LIVE: The Wood Brothers @ Club Helsinki, 8/15/14

August 21st, 2014, 4:00 pm by Greg
The Wood Brothers

The Wood Brothers

Review and photographs by Richard Brody

The sold-out, standing-room-only Club Helsinki crowd came expecting a great show. The Wood Brothers did not disappoint. They opened with “Sing About It” from their current album The Muse. The strolling bass line laid down by Chris Wood that began the song was quickly followed by the light touch of Oliver Wood’s acoustic guitar, and then Jano Rix’s melodica, and when the last instrumental note vanished into the night, the first vocal line was sung a cappella: “If you get too worried, what you ought to do is sing,” the second half of which was sung in three part gospel-like harmony. We were barely a minute into the show, and the band had displayed their ability to seamlessly integrate several musical styles that captured their essence.

Good songwriters need inspiration and the title track of The Muse is an homage to Oliver’s wife, who provides the space and support for the tunes to get created. But it was the birth of his child that helped him complete the song with the lines:

“And if I was thinkin’ I’d be thinkin’ thank God whoever you are
For the muse and the miracle right here in my arms.”

Yet the music was not all nice and tender. The band turned up the heat on a number of songs, most notably “Honey Jar,” a funk-influenced tune that began with some dizzyingly fast bass and drums that carried the song until it slid into a slower tempo blues bridge that transitioned back into the fast stuff and remained there until its crescendo finish. And then there was arguably the crowd’s favorite “Who the Devil” that began slowly with Chris’ bowed bass leading and building to a rocking instrumental break that provided numerous improvisational sparks led by Oliver’s electric guitar that was overtaken by Rix’s percussion and Chris’ thumping bass, and then slowly brought back to the song’s opening tempo by Chris’ bowed bass.

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LIVE: The Wood Brothers @ The Egg, 2/23/14

March 5th, 2014, 2:00 pm by Greg
Chris Wood on bass and Oliver Wood doing the vocals and guitar attack

Chris Wood on bass and Oliver Wood doing the vocals and guitar attack

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Led by bassist Chris Wood (of Medeski Martin & Wood) and guitarist-vocalist Oliver Wood, the Wood Brothers – also featuring drummer Jano Rix – captivated the sold-crowd at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre last month in support of their new album, The Muse, produced by Buddy Miller.

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LIVE: The Wood Brothers @ The Egg, 2/22/13

February 27th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Sara
Chris Wood, Jano Rix, Oliver Wood

Chris Wood, Jano Rix, Oliver Wood

Review and photographs by J Hunter

“If you get worried/What you ought to do is sing!”

That was the first piece of advice the full house at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre got from the Wood Brothers, and there was plenty more where that came from. Don’t worry, though; the galvanizing alt-country unit hasn’t become a trio of self-help gurus. But between revival-tent gospel vibe that’s at the root of their music and an arsenal of songs that implore you to keep the faith (in whatever), you can’t help coming away from their show smiling a little wider and standing a little taller.

Despite the reassuring lyrics at the top of this review, bassist Chris Wood seemed a little nonplussed about his surroundings. “I’ve been in the big Egg a few times,” he told us right after a bouncing take on “Atlas,” which was very similar to the video that accompanied my review of the Brothers’ new disc Live, Volume 2: Nail & Tooth. “This is… the Quail Egg, I don’t know…”

“This is the sperm,” someone in the crowd yelled, inspiring much hilarity.

Never at a loss, guitarist Oliver Wood cracked, “Yes, we’re gonna fertilize this place with great music!” Procreation humor aside, great music was on tap all night long, washing over us in a flood of country, blues and gospel that had deep roots but spoke with a voice well-versed in the modern day. And all of it was as lead-pencil simple as it gets: Guitar, bass and drums – no horns, no effects, no filler and no bullshit. The closest thing to high-tech we got was “Big Mike,” a massive area mic that was the great-great-grandson of the ones used at the Grand Ol’ Opry back in the heyday of Hank Williams (not to be confused with Hank Williams, Jr, who couldn’t carry his daddy’s guitar case). Oh, and then there was percussionist Jano Rix’s melodica, which he played as the Brothers gathered round Big Mike and tried out new material that dovetailed perfectly with the Brothers’ established catalog.

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CD Pick of the Week: The Wood Brothers’ “Live, Volume 2: Nail & Tooth”

February 21st, 2013, 3:00 pm by Sara

The Wood Brothers: Live, Volume 2: Nail & Tooth

Live, Volume 2: Nail & Tooth
(Southern Ground Artists)

The Wood Brothers’ show at Yhe Egg on Friday (February 22) is sold out, and has been for some time. No big surprise, to my mind: One of the best musical nights I ever spent was when guitarist Oliver Wood and bassist Chris Wood (plus a special surprise guest named John Medeski) brought their rocking alt-country act to the late Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble in 2010. I’d never seen the duo before that night, and I swore I’d see them again after they slayed me in the aisles. Great vocals, phenomenal musicianship, undeniable authenticity, energy that flows over you like high tide on Big Wednesday… Take it from me; the Wood Brothers are the total package, and in concert, it just gets better.

“Okay, J,” you say, fighting off your exasperation. “But if I can’t get into this show, why are you torturing me by writing about how great these guys are?!” Well, because I want to clue you in to the music that’s been living in my car’s sound system ever since the disc came in the mail: Live, Volume 2: Nail & Tooth, the second of two live dates the Wood Brothers released in 2012 through Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Artists label. Some of the music on Tooth (and its predecessor Sky High) comes from the Brothers’ 2011 release Smoke Ring Halo, which they previewed when I saw them at the Ramble, but the rest is music we’ve heard in places like Revolution Hall and Club Helsinki, and others have heard at big-ticket shows like Bonnaroo and the Newport Folk Festival.

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LIVE: The Wood Brothers @ Putnam Den, 6/22/2012

July 30th, 2012, 2:30 pm by Greg
Oliver Wood

Oliver Wood

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

While speaking to the audience after the first song, Oliver Wood, lead singer and guitarist of the Wood Brothers, implied how tiring it is for serious creative musicians to be “playing in bars.”

The meaning behind that was not a slight against the Putnam Den or its audience. It was simply a fact echoed time-and-again by many musicians because they find it difficult to be heard over the chatter and noise from the back of the room and the bar.

Luckily, this time out, this was not the case.

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Chris Wood, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?

July 22nd, 2010, 2:30 pm by Greg

The Wood Brothers

The Wood Brothers

“The first one I ever bought?

Early on, I think I was listening to my brother’s records – ’60s rock like Hendrix, the Doors and the Beatles.

So by the time I finally actually bought a record myself, I was already taking music lessons. I went out and bought ‘Kind of Blue’ because my teacher said, ‘You gotta have that one.'”

Bassist Chris Wood joins his brother Oliver in concert as the Wood Brothers at Club Helsinki Hudson in Hudson at 8pm on Sunday. He will also be joining the other members of Medeski, Martin & Wood to play at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock at 8pm on Thursday, August 26.

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