Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Features and More

Review: The Avett Brothers deliver a genre-defying romp at Clearwater Jazz Holiday

CLEARWATER — The folks behind the Clearwater Jazz Holiday have guts and gumption, and so do the Avett Brothers, the four-day fest's hard-stompin' alt-folk finale. And if the 33rd version of the Coachman Park event commenced with a harrumph of farewell free music, goodbye traditional jazz acts, it ended with a shaggy bear hug and an all-is-well nod to the future.

Jazzbo boobirds will always peck at the fest for genre-smooshing — blues guitarist Bonnie Raitt kickstarted things Thursday — but let 'em gripe all they want. If the Avetts proved anything, it's that pushing the musical envelope can be an invigorating thing, especially when it draws a massive crowd of young and old, scruffy teens and well-heeled oldsters, all of whom left this Jazz Holiday more than eager for the next.

And yes, this was the first year the event charged for tickets, but to see the Avetts — arguably the hottest, most current act the Jazz Holiday has booked in years — for as little as $10 is a remarkable steal. Hey, I dig gratis goods as much as the next cheapskate, but the Avetts, touring behind new album The Carpenter, were a priceless rush, an experience, a modern melding of the Band and the Dead with a contempo twist.

Backed by three equally adept touring mates, Scott Avett (on banjo) and Seth Avett (on guitar), with "official brother" Bob Crawford (on bass), are a peculiar trio for sure, opening their two-hour set with the rambunctious neo-rockabilly Go to Sleep and Will You Return? before side-stepping into the bent waltz of Down With the Shine, all of it sepia-toned in circa-'70s desert rock.

Much like roots-rock peers Mumford & Sons and, to an extent, the Zac Brown Band, the Avett Brothers appeal to macho men and great swaths of swoony women, making the girls sigh with the delicate mountain ballad January Wedding (performed by Seth) and making the guys fist-pump with Distraction #74 (performed by Scott), which commenced with a cheeky rustic rap. (Scott can also get downright punk at times, a hootenanny with a rebel yell.)

The only time the bros wandered close to jazz was on the occasional ragtimey breakdown — these dudes lovvve to jam, don'tcha know — and yet the slick improvisation was there as well as crack, inventive musicianship.

The Avetts are the ideal argument for why the Jazz Holiday should evolve, become more of a catchall for smart, eclectic bands who have no use for elitist genre loyalty.

In fact, as the set grew longer, the influences grew more varied: the Beatles-esque harmonizing on the power-pop of Slight Figure of Speech, the tender bro-on-bro vocal glory of Murder in the City. The crowd hooted and hollered for most of the epic set, and yet it fell near-silent when the Seth, Scott and Bob gathered close 'round a center mike for the classic gospel hush of Just a Closer Walk With Thee.

For local music fans hungry for a moving experience, their prayers were answered, salvation at a bargain price.

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

Comments
Bill Cosby jokes in 1st show since 2015 he ‘used to be’ comedian

Bill Cosby jokes in 1st show since 2015 he ‘used to be’ comedian

PHILADELPHIA — Bill Cosby performed in public for the first time since a sex abuse scandal embroiled him in 2015, joking that he "used to be a comedian" and playing with a jazz band in his hometown as a retrial looms in his criminal sexual assault ca...
Updated: 1 hour ago
What’s your most romantic food story? We want to hear it

What’s your most romantic food story? We want to hear it

Calling all romantic foodies: We want to hear about your tales of love and food. For Valentine’s Day this year, we’re looking into some famously adorable dishes, like Engagement Chicken, a roast chicken first published in Glamour magazine in 2004 tha...
Published: 01/23/18
Jobsite’s ‘The Tempest’ balances reverence and irreverence in a busy Shakespeare tribute

Jobsite’s ‘The Tempest’ balances reverence and irreverence in a busy Shakespeare tribute

TAMPA — The Tempest begins with shadow play, a ship tossed on high seas. Projected onto a backdrop, the shadow of that ship looks proportionate to the waves that rock it. You see this, even as a daemonic spirit holds a toy replica in her hand, the ac...
Published: 01/22/18
Taste test: New cereals

Taste test: New cereals

The cereal aisle is one of our favorites at the grocery store. Every week, it seems new options are rolled out, each with even more sugar, chocolate or some twist on an old favorite. January seems a particularly popular month for new cereal promotion...
Published: 01/22/18

From the food editor: Mastering the frittata, with help from a lot of mozzarella cheese

Let’s talk about frittatas. Specifically, how I can never seem to make one that actually tastes good. They are described in blogs and cookbooks as an easy, breezy dish suitable for using up leftovers lingering in your fridge. Like a quiche, but low-c...
Published: 01/22/18
Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

TAMPA — Many times during Sinfonietta, Leoš Janácek’s notoriously difficult but joyous work, it was impossible for a regular patron of the Florida Orchestra to escape this observation: They have never sounded quite like this.This isn’t to say musicia...
Published: 01/20/18
‘Mike Hammer - Encore for Murder’ serves up hard-boiled 1950s fare with a healthy side of wit

‘Mike Hammer - Encore for Murder’ serves up hard-boiled 1950s fare with a healthy side of wit

CLEARWATER — From the moment the title character takes center stage, Mike Hammer — Encore for Murder is sold. Rarely does one actor own an entire production the way Gary Sandy owns this world premiere, and it’s a pleasure at watch, in large measure t...
Published: 01/19/18
Banksy’s Haight Street Rat coming to Winter Haven gallery

Banksy’s Haight Street Rat coming to Winter Haven gallery

Fans of notorious street artist and activist Banksy won’t have to travel too far to see one of his original pieces, thanks to an exhibit opening on Jan. 27 at the Outer Space Gallery in Winter Haven. The "Haight Street Rat" will be on display, on the...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

Inside American Stage’s plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people

ST. PETERSBURG An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated t...
Published: 01/18/18
Overtourism and safety cited in Fodor’s where-not-to-go list

Overtourism and safety cited in Fodor’s where-not-to-go list

As you contemplate all those "where to go in 2018" lists, here’s a twist: a list of places to avoid in the new year. The where not to go list is from Fodor’s, the travel guidebook publisher. Fodor’s "no list" includes places plagued by overtourism an...
Published: 01/18/18