In 2012, the Avett Brothers joined Randy Travis for a taping of CMT Crossroads, a musical union that deftly matched the rootsy folk of the North Carolina band with the traditional country of fellow North Carolinian Travis. Seven years on, it stands as one of the best, most seamless Crossroads, a testament to the musicianship of the Avetts and the singing prowess of Travis, who no longer performs after suffering a stroke in 2013.
During a concert last weekend in Mississippi, the Avetts nodded to that pairing and their continuing respect for Travis’ music by performing his 1987 Number One “Forever and Ever, Amen” midway through their set. Brothers Seth and Scott Avett harmonize their way through the track, which moves along on the strength of Joe Kwon’s haunting cello and Scott’s propulsive banjo. The band often throws covers into their live shows, including Jim Croce’s “Operator” and assorted bluegrass traditionals.
Travis, inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016, will release his memoir, Forever and Ever, Amen, on May 14th. The Avett Brothers, meanwhile, released the new song “Neapolitan Sky” in February and will headline the Forecastle Music Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, on July 14th. Earlier this month, they announced that their music will form the basis for a new musical, Swept Away, opening in 2020.