Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
As Comfortable as Home: Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield perform at the Keswick Theater
“When I first heard Jessica sing this song, there was a spark,” Seth Avett said while sitting at the piano to the far right of the Keswick Theatre’s stage. He talked about when he realized their this common love for Elliott Smith had to become a project, and how he kept coming back to Jessica Lea Mayfield singing “Twilight” as the push to keep up with it over the years.
Conveying a sense of home, Avett and Mayfield performed in front of a kitchen backdrop on Saturday evening, complete with a working kettle, refrigerator, vacuum, shelves of teas and cereals, and a table placed to hold Seth’s various guitars. Touching on a bit more than cherished Elliott Smith tunes, the two musicians intertwined some of Smith’s influences along with their own works for the set.
Just like their tribute project (which will be out tomorrow), many of the songs came from Smith’s posthumous album From a Basement on the Hill, including “A Fond Farewell,” “Let’s Get Lost,” and “Memory Lane.” When Avett briefly took the spotlight for “Angeles,” Mayfield and upright bassist Paul Defiglia showed no hesitation to use their functional almost-home to freshen their teas.
“One of the things that attracted me to Seth as a human being is his ability to write songs,” Mayfield complimented before leading Avett’s original “Rain on my Tin Roof.” It wasn’t long before he returned the favor and played the first song he ever heard Mayfield perform, “For Today.” As the show continued, there was a comfortable back and forth between the musicians, both in their harmonization and their comments about one another. It felt like I was sitting in on a living room jam session – but with a couch that could sit a few hundred friends. From The Beatles to The Dillards (famous from the Andy Griffith show), Bob Dylan to Hank Williams, Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield left no major influence out when it came to understanding Elliott Smith on a deeper level.
After leaving the stage with a standing ovation, all three musicians came back through the dining room door with Avett repeating “We’d love to.” Playing a three song encore, the musicians seem genuinely humbled that so many people came out to share evening of musical crossroads.
If you missed last night’s performance, check out the setlist and photo gallery below. Find future dates and tickets for this once in a lifetime tour here.
A Fond Farewell (Elliott Smith)
Britain Baby (Elliott Smith)
Between the Bars (Elliott Smith)
Just Like a Woman (Bob Dylan)
Settin’ the Woods in Fire (Hank Williams)
There is a Time (The Dillards)
Rain on my Tin Roof (Seth Avett)
Pitseleh (Elliott Smith)
Beginning (new song, Seth Avett)
I Will (The Beatles)
For Today (Jessica Lea Mayfield)
Angeles (Elliott Smith)
Someone I Used to Know (Elliott Smith)
Kiss Me Again (Jessica Lea Mayfield)
Our Hearts are Wrong (Jessica Lea Mayfield)
Big Ballad of Nothing (Elliott Smith)
Memory Lane (Elliott Smith)
I Me Mine (The Beatles)
Miss Misery (Elliott Smith)
Twilight (Elliott Smith)