Jim Avett may not have made a career out of music the way his famous sons in The Avett Brothers have, but he continues to make a life of it.
Avett performs at Dyson House Listening Room on Thursday, June 23. Baton Rouge band See Schaff Run will open the show. The show begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15.
The son of a concert pianist and a Methodist preacher, Avett was raised to believe an understanding of music was as important as anything else.
“Music shows how things fit together — it’s a lot like mathematics,” Avett said. “You can play music on any level. You can play chess like you play checkers, or you can get it really complicated.”
Avett maintained an appreciation for music while he invested himself in other ventures throughout his adulthood. He joined the U.S. Navy, worked with juvenile delinquents as a state employee and ran a welding business.
“I’ve done a lot of different things,” Avett said. “There’s a lot of work you can do and welding was a way of making a living, but as far as running a business versus music, music was always important.”
Avett’s musical goal is to share something — a story, philosophy or incident — that connects the songwriter’s experiences to the listener.
“I think the idea of life is to leave it better than you found it, and the whole point of writing music is to affect people’s lives,” Avett said. “It was never a dream of mine to be on a stage. I don’t think money or popularity gets you ahead in life, but if I can affect lives from a stage, then I’ll get on a stage.”
With the success of his sons’ alternative folk band The Avett Brothers, Avett is often asked what it takes to make it in music.
“It takes the same thing as in any job,” Avett said. “Every person can be a success. Every person is unique. You just have to get it out of you. People don’t realize that. Talent is not as important as working hard.”
The Avett family still plays and performs together as often as they can. Avett’s daughter, Bonnie, accompanies him on gospel gigs when he’s close to home, playing anywhere from churches to bars.
“If you’re gonna save souls, you need to go wherever the souls that need saving are,” Avett said of the gospel shows.
Likewise, he is not unfamiliar to Avett Brothers’ crowds. Although, the size of the auditorium is never what impresses him when it comes to performing.
“I would rather play to 10 people that want to hear the song than thousands that don’t, and I’ve done both,” Avett said. “Getting on stage, you don’t think about the size of the audience that much, you try to reach out to whoever is there.”