The Avett Brothers—The New Kings of Southern Rock

They’re the best thing to happen to Southern rock since “Free Bird.” This string-happy trio (brothers Scott and Seth Avett, and Bob Crawford), former indie rockers who found their niche in punk-inflected American folk rock (that’s right), know their way around a song.

Video Exclusive: "Pretty Girl from Raleigh”

No strangers to hard work (Scott and Seth grew up baling hay on their family’s North Carolina farm), the boys have built their fan base the old-fashioned grassroots way—one jam session, handshake, music festival, and 100-city string of gigs at a time.

We recently spent a day with the boys on the family farm, where Scott still lives in an apartment above the shed behind his parents’ house. These guys are rock stars, make no mistake. They sell out concert halls worldwide. Girls scream their names. But after an afternoon with them, shooting hoops on the cracked concrete pad, playing “dress-up” with an endless supply of Scott’s hats, goofing off on a rust-lacquered scooter uncovered in the barn, you realize they’re still just good ole Carolina boys. Playful at heart. Devoted to their (growing) families. With an almost-umbilical link to this Piedmont landscape. It’s easy to imagine the pre-rock star versions running heels-to-bottom through pastures and building forts in the woods.

And that’s what sets them apart from other road warriors of this genre. They aren’t just rockers with a Southern sound. Their sound (whinnied bluegrass, soulful harmonies, story-rich songwriting to make a country singer swoon, fist-pumping hooks) continues to evolve. They are Southern. In all the ways that matter. And did we mention that they rock? Seriously rock.