There’s one day a year that The Avett Brothers look forward to more than any other, surpassing even major milestones such as headlining Austin City Limits and Bonnaroo, receiving Grammy nominations and performing on national television. This is the renowned Americana rockers’ annual Legendary Giveback concert, which features a headlining performance by the band and benefits three charities that are near and dear to their hearts.
Now in its third year, the Legendary Giveback will be sponsored by independent soft drink company Cheerwine and takes place December 13 at the House of Blues Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. It will also be live-streamed on Yahoo Live.
One of the charities benefiting from this year’s Giveback Concert is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which is especially meaningful to bassist Bob Crawford, whose four-year-old daughter has spent much of her life being treated there for an inoperable brain tumor.
“It’s a tough thing – there’s a fine line with entertainers getting involved with advocacy,” muses Crawford. “Sometimes you’re stepping over the line a bit. I go way over the line for St. Jude’s and special needs children because I have a special needs child who has cancer. She’s been receiving treatment there so I can personally vouch for it. When you’re in the middle of it, it’s easy to shout it to the world.”
This year’s Giveback concert will also benefit Kids First of the Carolinas, a grassroots community organization that helps children and families in need, and Lowcountry Food Bank, which aims to end hunger in the coastal region of South Carolina.
“We’ve raised over $125,000 [for charities] so far,” says Tom Barbitta, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Cheerwine. “We’re doing this all for the betterment of the community, and that keeps us real and keeps us focused,” he says. “We decided to work together because the band and the brand share the same values. These are great guys and they believe in community and giving back.”
The North Carolina quartet, which also includes brothers Scott and Seth Avett, and Joe Kwon, boasts a loyal fanbase that often takes the initiative when it comes to giving back. “Many times our fans have taken things on without our even saying anything,” says Crawford. “For example, before our show in Portland, our fans decided to volunteer at a Portland food bank. A couple of members of the band went out to join them. We did it because that’s where our heart leads us and our fans did it too. Maybe they followed by example and they took it upon themselves to do it.”
Crawford took some time off from the band when his young daughter, Hallie, was first diagnosed with cancer, and admits that it was initially extremely difficult for him to return to performing when his daughter was fighting for her life. “Hallie would be in the hospital or receiving chemotherapy and here [at our concerts] these people were having a party. When you suffer a tragedy you tend to be able to see the world and life very clearly, at least for a short period of time, and you see the things that are most important. But we can’t live in crisis mode forever. We thrive in normalcy and things that can take our minds away from things that are so serious. We need music and things like that.”
“I had a problem being so serious all the time, a problem asking myself, ‘Do I belong up here?'” he adds. “Then this woman [who was battling cancer] wrote me this letter and talked about what she went through, and she said it meant so much for her to see me up there doing what I do.”
Crawford says that the life experiences that the band has faced over the past few years are finding their way into material they’re working on for a new album, which sees them teaming up with longtime producer Rick Rubin once again. “Our lives have changed dramatically – we’ve faced numerous challenges – so there will be reflections of what we’ve gone through,” he says of the follow-up to 2013’s Magpie and the Dandelion.
“[The Legendary Giveback] has become a very special thing for us every year,” says Crawford. “We pray that it continues to grow and prosper and shine a light on various charities. There are other ways of giving than reaching into a pocketbook or going to a concert. Volunteering and being aware of what other people are going through are also incredibly important.”