FAN FRIDAY Shawna Simmons- The Avett Brothers, Crackerfarm, Avett Nation and Surviving a Tornado

shawna-group This year I made the decision to do whatever I could to see The Avett Brothers as much as I possibly could. I know many will understand and agree when I say there have been many difficult times in life when their music has been invaluable to me. The music gets in your blood and you just can’t wait until that next show, so I had quite an exciting April planned. First, I was thrilled to see shows near me in Texas, so of course I would hit Dallas and Austin, then Arkansas was announced, and finally the Charlotte show came up. I just had to see them at home, and as I planned my trip the opportunity opened to attend Wilmington and the show after the Braves game. When all was said and done, I had tickets for six shows in two weeks. Again, I had quite an April, or Ave-pril as my friends and I began to call it, planned with the boys.

Things started out like a dream. Searcy, Arkansas is a show I will never forget. I met some incredible friends from Avett Nation, got right on the front row in front of Seth, and got to meet Scott and Seth after the show. We had a wonderful time visiting with them and having some real conversation and sweet personal moments with both of them. Everything you’ve heard about them is true and more. It’s so moving to have them speak to you as if you are the only person in their world at that moment and see their sincerity when they thank you for being there.

Then I was off to North Carolina. Wilmington, Charlotte, and the Braves game were all their own unique experience full of plenty of Avett friends. Each show had a special moment: talking to Travis and Pete in Wilmington, meeting Jim Avett , Mike (crackerfarm), and Bob Crawford in Charlotte (and a host of Avett friends), and standing in the sunshine on Turner Field seeing the boys’ undeniable joy at being there. I hated to have to leave Charlotte. The city, the people, and the memories are things I will hold close to me for years.

Shortly after I returned home, the announcement was made that the Texas shows would be postponed due to the impending arrival of Scott’s child. Several friends asked if I was upset about it, but how can you be when it’s for such a wonderful reason. Two days after I returned from Charlotte, I was actually thankful the shows were postponed.

April 14, 2011, a massive tornado devastated the small town I’ve grown up in, destroying close to 200 homes, including mine. That night, my phone, facebook, and email lit up with people from all over asking if I was okay. I was overwhelmed with the love and support of all the beautiful people in the Avett community. I’ve received so many lovely messages and cards, I can’t even count who all I’ve heard from. In the midst of it all, I’m sure you all saw the sweet message from Mike on the Crackerfarm Charlotte video. I can’t even describe to you how much that meant to me. He’s truly a great guy, and I’m so happy to have met him in Charlotte. I’ve also received personal messages from Avett family members and crew. What a community Scott and Seth have built. I can think of no better legacy.

shawna-fretboard I have an extensive collection of Avett memorabilia. From a Fretboard Journal they boys signed in Arkansas, to the special poster from Charlotte, to the signed I and Love and You box set. I was devastated at the thought of losing things that could never be replaced. I was overjoyed when I walked in to see the ceiling had collapsed right over my “music section.” Everything underneath was dry and in pristine condition. Fretboard Journal got a little soggy, but it’s still with me. Even Scott’s poster was still in the tube and completely dry. I lost so much but finding those little things that meant so much was enough to keep me going.
Through the grapevine I heard someone in the Avett camp had heard about the storm and wanted to do something for me. The day we tore down what was left of the house, I received a box from North Carolina marked only “Avett Bros Care Package.” shawna-avett-package I don’t know who sent it or how it all came about, but I know I’m overwhelmed and humbled that these wonderful people were thinking of me, just one person, thousands of miles away, and took time from their busy lives to let me know I am loved. Understandably this is not something they can do for everyone, so I won’t elaborate on it, but I know this is something they’d do for any one of us they see repeatedly on the road.

They do love us just as much as we love them and as much as they say they do. It’s a beautiful thing to actually see the proof in action. If you don’t already love them, you can’t keep from it now. I’ve had family and friends laugh at my obsession with The Avett Brothers. I’ve had people complain I spend too much time and money on them. But once they saw all of this unfold, they understood. I keep hearing from close friends and family “Oh I see now why you love them so much.” What a thrill it is to know I have October to look forward to for those makeup Texas shows. I hope I’ll maybe get to talk to them again then, if not before, and thank them personally.

As I close this I just want to say a wholehearted thank you to everyone in the Avett community. All of you have shown me an overwhelming amount of support and love. I can’t express in words what it means to know people are thinking of you. I hope everyone will keep the folks in the south in your thoughts and prayers as they were devastated by storms this week. I know I’m actually one of the more fortunate ones and for that I’m thankful. And finally, I’m so thankful for The Avett Brothers, their crew, family, and community they’ve built. I don’t know what I’d do without you.

Thank you Shawna Simmons of  Tushka, OK for sharing a little piece of yourself and what has to have been such a trying time for you and your family!

If you would like to help Shawna or the Tushka community please see below. They could really use a little help in totally rebuilding their lives from scratch.

Donate to Shawna:
A paypal acount ( has been set up to donate directly to Shawna and her family. Log into/Setup your paypal account, Click Send Money, Enter and select personal and then select gift.

Donate to Tushka:
Southeastern Oklahoma Chapter (American Red Cross)
Address: 200 E Adams Ave, McAlester, OK 74501
Contact: Rhonda Webb
Phone: 918-423-0481

Link to Shawna’s storm photos


1 Comment Leave yours

  1. Kathy Breukelman #

    Shawna you have been a shining example of optimism, bravery and all that is possible when times are tough. Your post is beautiful and a testament to how music unites people and brings out the goodness in so many.

    You are still in our prayers as you continue to rebuild your home and community. Love and music can conquer so much during our darkest days.


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