Avett Bros, Lynyrd Skynyrd Will Play Azalea Festival
February 25, 2013 by Kim
Good ol’ Southern music is going to be the theme of this year’s Azalea Festival and that seems to please most of the Port City. North Carolina’s own Avett Brothers are returning to the N.C. Azalea Festival along with some of music’s most famous Southern boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The Avetts, who played to a sold-out crowd at UNCW’s Trask Coliseum in 2011, will be headliners for the 66th annual Azalea Festival on April 12th . The group – brothers Scott and Seth Avett, “honorary third brother” Bob Crawford and touring cellist Joe Kwon – will give a 7 p.m. concert on a Friday night at Cape Fear Community College’s downtown campus. Standing-room-only tickets are $45 each with no rain date and no refunds.
With a unique mix of Americana sounds – a concoction of bluegrass, country, rock and folk that Our State magazine once termed “porch punk” and “grunge grass” – the Avett Brothers have picked up a growing band of followers since their 2007 breakout album “Emotionalism.” Scott and Seth Avett began playing on their family farm outside of Concord, near Charlotte, and began touring after art studies at East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. They teamed up with Crawford after a chance meeting in the parking lot of a Queen City music store.
The group played frequently in Wilmington at the old Shanakee (now Copper Penny) and the Soapbox in their early years, and their song “I and Love and You” was in the soundtrack for a seventh-season episode of the locally filmed TV series “One Tree Hill.” In 2009, the year Rolling Stone magazine labeled them an “artist to watch,” their LP “I and Love and You” hit No. 7 on the Billboard rock album chart and No. 1 on its folk album chart. Appearances followed on the David Letterman, Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Fallon shows. In 2010, they were featured on PBS’s long-running “Austin City Limits.” In 2011, the Avetts played along with Bob Dylan and Mumford and Sons at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards. Their latest album, “The Carpenter,” debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Americana Album” category.
The second festival headliner will be Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Southern rock band with iconic hits including “Sweet Home, Alabama” and “Free Bird.” The group, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, will perform outdoors 7 p.m. April 11 on Cape Fear Community College’s campus in downtown Wilmington.
Originally formed in 1964 in Jacksonville, Fla., as “The Noble Five,” the band adopted the name Lynyrd Skynyrd as a back-handed tribute to a Jacksonville physical education teacher who was notorious for enforcing a no-long-hair rule at Robert E. Lee High School. Discovered in Atlanta in 1972 by Al Kooper of Blood, Sweat and Tears, the band was signed to Kooper’s Sounds of the South label and opened for The Who during its 1973 U.S. Quadrophenia tour.
The following year, the band charted with “Sweet Home, Alabama,” a cheeky response to Neil Young’s songs “Alabama” and “Southern Man.” In fact, Young and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant were friends, and Young wrote some material for Skynard that was never recorded. Later in 1974, Skynyrd hit the Billboard charts again with “Free Bird,” which had originally appeared on the band’s 1973 debut album, “Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd.” The song became so ubiquitous that, even today, some fans can be counted on to yell, “Play ‘Free Bird!’” at any rock show, regardless of who’s on stage.
The band’s first incarnation came to an end in 1977 after a charter plane crash killed Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines and injured a number of others, including guitarist Gary Rossington. Skynyrd reorganized in 1987, when Van Zant’s younger brother Johnny joined as lead singer and principal songwriter. The band’s current lineup includes Rossington (the sole surviving original member), veteran Rickey Medlocke and Mark “Sparky” Matejka on guitar; Johnny Van Zant on vocals; Robert Kearns on bass; Michael Cartellone on drums; and Peter “Keys” Pisarczyk on keyboards. More than 30 musicians have been members of the band over the years. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s most recent album was 2012′s “Last of a Dyin’ Breed.”
The 2013 N.C. Azalea Festival will be held April 10th-14th in Wilmington.