O Brothers, Where Art Thou?
Giving Live at the Barn a spin transports me right away to upstate New York — wide streets with colorful brownstones, barber’s poles perched on corners, weekend parades through town, fireworks, and happy farmlands sprawled out across the horizon. Close your eyes and you’re spending an evening with the Wood Brothers at Levon Helm’s famed barn in Woodstock. Not only was Helm a leader of The Band, but his influence trickled down the Hudson River and bathed New York City in a funky, eccentric, and rootsy embrace. This is apparent on “Who the Devil,” a track that the Wood Brothers use to show off their gospel chops and flex their funk muscles. In fact, the entire set has an upbeat undercurrent that flows and roils like easy rapids or beginner moguls. Just enough pep and pop to give the roots group a definitive edge. This week, lend your ears to a few brother pairs, like the Louvins and Gibsons. Then, give your own brother in New Mexico a call and let him know that the songs you wrote together in high school weren’t half bad.