Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Wood Brothers at Irving Plaza

During their childhood in Boulder, Colorado, brothers Oliver Wood and Chris Wood listened to their father perform classic songs at camp fires and family gatherings, while their mother, a poet, instilled in them her passion for storytelling and turn of phrase. Oliver moved to Atlanta, where he played guitar in cover bands before earning a spot in Tinsley Ellis’ touring act. Oliver began to sing and then founded the blues-rocking King Johnson. Chris, meanwhile, studied jazz bass, moved to New York City and, in the early 1990s, formed Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW), performing contemporary jazz and abstract music. When the two brothers played on the same bill one night, they realized that they could combine Oliver’s songwriting and Chris’s forward-thinking musicianship. The two formed the Wood Brothers, a folk and Americana trio that includes multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix. The trio presently is based in Nashville, Tennessee. The band's sixth studio album, One Drop of Truth, will be released tomorrow, February 2, 2018.

The Wood Brothers headlined two consecutive nights at Irving Plaza, and both nights welcomed keyboardist John Medeski of Medeski Martin & Wood for much of the set. The core of the music was rooted in Oliver Wood phrasing his vocals akin to Willie Nelson and Chris often adding the kind of harmony twinning that has clicked for many sibling singers before them. Rix added vocal harmony, melodica, and percussion on his drums or on his self-designed "suitar," a guitar re-fabricated as a percussion instrument. Medeski's contribution were far more than frill; on some songs his extensive keyboard fills reshaped and even dominated the compositions. The symbiotic intertwining of his mastery of the keys with the Wood Brothers' country-folk style took flight, taking simple songs and frequently turning them into barnburners. The support act, the Stray Birds, also joined the Wood Brothers around an old-timey microphone for the traditional "Down by the Riverside." The eclectic program swung from country blues to folk influences and included elements of gospel to jazz for a warm and spirited program.

Visit the Wood Brothers at

  1. Sing About It
  2. Atlas
  3. Mary Anna
  4. Fall Too Fast (with John Medeski)
  5. Tried and Tempted (with John Medeski)
  6. Snake Eyes
  7. Chocolate on My Tongue
  8. Neon Tombstone
  9. Laughin’ or Crying (with John Medeski)
  10. The Muse
  11. Chevrolet (with John Medeski)
  12. Down by the Riverside (traditional, with the Stray Birds)
  13. Happiness Jones (with John Medeski)
  14. You Wreck Me (Tom Petty cover, with John Medeski)
  15. Where My Baby Might Be (with John Medeski)
  16. Honey Jar (with John Medeski)
  1. Luckiest Man (with John Medeski)
  2. One More Day (with John Medeski)