The Wood Brothers 2.1.16
Words By Coleman Schwartz
Photos By J. Scott Shrader (J. Scott Shrader Photography)
This show demonstrated the breadth of the group’s material, starting off with softer, acoustic music and progressively adding in more distortion (and electricity) as the performance went on. The first songs featured Oliver Wood’s twangy acoustic guitar work, which held the crowd mesmerized and silent. It took a thunderous upright bass solo from Chris Wood to break the spell and bring the audience to their feet.
While Rix was on Shuitar, the band’s playing was generally mellow and focused towards Oliver’s ridiculously soulful vocal work. His voice has the outstanding nasal quality of the Slip’s Brad Barr, but with soaring sustain more similar to My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. This comparison was well illustrated by standout track “Postcards from Hell.” As his voice filled the entire theater, the hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention.
As he sang, I also noticed that his guitar work was impressively well-rounded. He can finger-pick in his sleep, and his strumming is consistently interesting. As he switched from acoustic to hollowbody electric, and then to resonator, I could see just how well he adapted his technique to get the very most out of each. To say he was well-rehearsed would be an understatement, because this man has clearly dedicated his life to this instrument.
I was also quite surprised at the amount of filthy funk grooves he was able to infuse into this folk show. He particularly stole the show during a cover of Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band's “Express Yourself,” which had everyone in the room jumping for joy. Oh, and did I mention that he also crushed on harmonica throughout the show? All of this versatility helped me to add a new wrinkle to my already-deep appreciation for Chris’s work.
The vocal harmonies between the two brothers were tight-as-could-be at all times. Hearing siblings play together is always a treat, especially siblings that have put in the time to nurture their natural connection. Their harmonies sounded excellent inside of the venue, which had been mixed pristinely for the evening. The sound quality shone brightly during their single-mic unplugged segment, which featured Rix on melodica, and supporting artist, Liz Vice, sitting-in to help them sing “I’ll Fly Away.” Her beautiful, gospel-inspired voice provided the perfect contrast to the brother’s folkier sound, really taking things to the next level.
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