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.