We now know Playboy considers the University the nation’s number-one party school, but here’s a question just as debatable: Is Charlottesville a Southern city? Your Jersey friends will undoubtedly give a resounding “yes,” whereas the Northern Virginia contingent may jump to deny any Dixie leanings. Regardless of your opinion about where Charlottesville falls on the map (for the record, it’s below the Mason-Dixon line), the City has an undeniable charm, in equal parts due to its eclectic urbanity and its — dare I say — Southern hospitality.
So when two distinctly Southern brands decided to team up for an epic benefit concert, it’s no surprise they chose Charlottesville as the ideal location. Famous folk trio The Avett Brothers and everyone’s favorite Carolina soda, Cheerwine, are taking over the nTelos Wireless Pavilion Oct. 19 for the first annual Legendary Giveback. Benefiting Operation Homefront, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and the University’s Children’s Hospital, the concert will also be streamed live online for anyone who pledges time to the charity of his choice. Arts & Entertainment got in touch with Seth Avett, one of the band’s founding members, via email to get his thoughts on the epic event.
A & E: How did the idea for the Legendary Giveback concert come about?
Seth Avett: Scott (my brother) did a voice-over segment for Cheerwine’s ‘Legendary Tales’ series. He enjoyed the experience and got along with everyone involved in the project, so our relationship with the company started there. Of course, being from North Carolina, our actual relationship with the soda itself began a few decades back.
A & E: Which of the event’s charities do you connect with most personally, and why?
Avett: We see and believe in the value of each charity linked to the event, though we probably connect most personally with the University of Virginia Children’s hospital. Bob Crawford, our bassist and a core member of the band, has recently experienced the challenge of caring for, and seeking care for, his own young daughter. Hallie, almost 3 years of age, has spent the last 14 months battling brain cancer. It has been a learning experience for the Crawford family and all those connected to them. For this reason, we understand in a complete way the need for compassion and a medical focus for children with needs of any sort.
A & E: As seasoned live musicians, do you think there will be a difference in the atmosphere of a live benefit concert like this versus a regular tour date?
Avett: Well, the buildup for this performance is formidable to say the least. It’s been sold out for a while and the buzz surrounding it is growing daily. I can certainly feel the excitement from the fans. I know a lot of folks are making significant road trips to be there. I think it will be amplified by the overwhelming enthusiasm people are showing for supporting something good and for a chance to contribute. It’s gonna [sic] be a major celebration.
A & E: What about the nTelos Wireless Pavilion makes it an ideal location for the concert?
Avett: There’s a great community vibe to this venue. We’ve performed here a few times, and it always feels very open and friendly.
A & E: What aspects of your music, and folk music in general, resonate with the concert’s cause?
Avett: I’d like to think that there’s something in our music that promotes goodwill among folks; maybe some hope here and there. In any event, we as people, our band and crew, are overjoyed to be a part of it. There isn’t one of us involved that don’t fully believe in the power of helping whenever possible.
A & E: The concert has a very down home, Southern vibe, and you guys are of course from NC — what is your favorite aspect of the South?
Avett: The best barbecue on the planet. (Let the battle continue!)
A & E: You released a new album in September — should fans expect to hear a lot of material off The Carpenter at the concert?
Avett: Absolutely. But we’ll also be playing songs from throughout the span of our career for sure. For folks that have been with us as long as the people in Virginia have, we gotta [sic] get some earlier stuff in there, too.
For great music for a great cause, tune in this Friday at 7 p.m. Tickets are sold out, but Cheerwine will be live-streaming the concert from Ern Commons, complete with refreshments for all attendees. You can find out more at cheerwine.com/giveback.