If somehow the picking of a few guitars and harmonies of Southern gospel find their way from the North Carolina mountains, there’s a chance the Avett family is at work.
The name Avett is well known thanks to the indie folk music styling of the Avett Brothers Seth and Scott, but they received their name and musical influence from their father Jim Avett.
Jim grew up with gospel music in the church and at the house. His father was a Methodist preacher and his mother a concert pianist turned church organist who instilled in him the life-molding values of music and morals.
Jim Avett is a classic man, a hardworking farmer, and devoted father. His early life included more welding than musical performance in order to take care of his wife and three children. Now that his children have more than made a name for themselves, he is out to share the joy of folk-gospel with the nation.
Since 2008, Jim has released three albums. “Jim Avett and Family” is a compilation of tracks featuring vocal and musical talents of all of the Avett children and their father. Jim often sings gospels with his daughter Bonnie, including a number of their duets on his newest albums “Tribes” and “Second Chance.”
His musical interests first developed on the keys of his house piano as he was required to practice at least three times a week for three years. He ventured into other branches of the string family, such as the violin for four years and later, the guitar.
He received his first guitar at the age of 13, recognizing the learning process as a “watch and do” experience. His brother, six years Jim’s senior, offered, “Boy, you want me to teach you how to play that thing?” And so goes the story of how he learned the first three strings, impressing “musically illiterate women” for months until he realized there was a fourth string.
Needless to say, Jim eventually became very well acquainted with all of the strings on his guitar and has since discovered his love for picking. He loves to hear every single string when he plays, setting his style apart from today’s popular music.
Of his many influences that include Thomas T. Hall and Bill Haggard, Jim cites Don Watcherson as “a moving force in music”. A moving force does not need to be a nationwide awakening, but if he can look into the audience to see one girl dancing or one man looking up to the sky, he knows music is at work.
He believes that the sole purpose for songwriting is writing “to affect lives.” Conversely, he told his sons that if “no one likes the songs you write, we’ll entertain ourselves on the porch.”
When Seth and Scott Avett travelled to Tennessee to showcase their music, the producer fell in love with their unique sound but told them that no one sells that kind of music these days. According to the producer, they were reminiscent the Louvin Brothers and the Everly Brothers. Jim takes pride in this fact because “the Louvins taught the Everlys and the Everlys taught the Beetles and the Beetles taught the world.”
Well, who taught the Avetts? Jim Avett.
Jim will be performing at the Sentient Bean March 13.