One thing about the Americana/roots scene (and arguably music in general these days) is that there are so many great bands flying under the radar that I’ll ‘discover’ a new one and say, “they’ve been around for how long?!?” Such is the case for me with The Wood Brothers. I’ve seen the name here and there, but never had the opportunity to catch them until now, nor did I realize that Oliver and Chris Wood along with Jano Rix on drums, keys and shitar have been making music together for over 10 years now. Better late than never they say, so when I saw they were coming to the area with the T Sisters, who I did know and had been waiting to see again, I had to catch the show.
Opening the night was the T Sisters (Erika, Rachel and Chloe) who I first became aware of when they were part of the Hillside Album Hour at Merlefest in 2013 adding their beautiful harmonies to Deja Vu. Based in the Bay Area, they seem to do most of their touring on the left coast so I was glad to see them finally make their way east for some shows.
The sisters wasted no time in regaling us with their sibling harmonies but really wowed the crowd a few songs into the set when they put down their instruments and sang acapella. First came “Thief” from their latest record, but the their gorgeous take on Paul Simon’s “American Tune” was really something special. They then picked up their instruments again and played “Sticks and Stones” and “The Road” from last fall’s self-titled album and closed the set with “Woo Woo” from 2014’s Kindred Lines. It looks like they are expanding their touring schedule and visiting more of the country in coming months so keep an eye out for them.
After a brief break the Wood Brothers strolled onto the stage and opened with the Wailers’ “Stop That Train,” then a couple songs in got the Monday night crowd thinking of a party with “I Got Loaded.” Despite being new to this band, I quickly got into the sound of how well Chris’ jazz-influenced bass combines with Oliver’s more traditional blues guitar playing.
Things cooled off a bit with a nice cover of The Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” in tribute to the recently departed Butch Trucks. Throughout the night Chris showed off some fancy footwork whether it was dancing with his stand-up bass during “Snake Eyes,” or shimmying around the side of the stage while Rix laid down a drum solo during “One More Day.” Near the end of the set the boys all gathered around a vintage mic in very subdued light to sing “The Muse,” then continued the “Oh Wood Brothers where art thou?” segment by inviting the T Sisters up for “Sing About It.”
After ending their set by getting the crowd on their feet with “Honey Jar” they returned for their encore as Oliver gave props to the venue, the beautiful 91-year old Carolina Theatre, noting that “not every place has a place this nice,” before reminiscing about Levon Helm and closing the show with The Band’s “Ophelia”.
While this was my first Wood Brothers experience, it was obvious that many in the theater were big fans, especially during “Luckiest Man” which became a sing-along. One thing I enjoy about finding an established band and seeing them live is looking forward to checking out their catalog, something I definitely plan on doing with the Wood Brothers. I’ll also be catching their live show again next chance I get, which will be this summer as they join the Tedeschi/Trucks band on their third Wheels of Soul tour.
For more photos from the show visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tgunsher/albums/72157678779523550