Words by: Rich Lieberman

The Wood Brothers :: 02.07.07 :: Joe's Pub :: New York, NY

The Wood Brothers
On a cold NYC evening, with lots of other musical options in town, Joe's Pub played host to a gem that'd warm the heart of any music lover. Upon entering you feel the intimacy instantly - candlelight, plush velvet couches, and fantastic, understated architecture. The Wood Brothers took the stage to a sold out room of 180 lucky people, the smallest venue on this tour.

"We love playing in NYC," says Oliver Wood. "We like playing at a smaller venue than we normally would. I like Joe's Pub. It's a lot of fun, and it's a lot more intimate. There is such an awesome energy in the whole city. It's exciting regardless of where you go."

Oliver and Chris Wood (bassist for legendary jazz-rock trio Medeski Martin & Wood) produce a rootsy blending of blues, folk, and rock in a style that's timeless. The brothers cite their father, also a singer/songwriter, as their earliest influence. They remember digging into his record collection at a very early age. Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, they jammed together often in their early years.

The Wood Brothers by Sara Montour
"I started out on bass actually," says Oliver. "I'm four years older than Chris, and I got a bass and eventually traded it in for a guitar. I gave Chris the bass and, of course, he became one of the best bass players anybody's ever seen! So, I like to take a little credit for that."

This collaboration combines their shared childhood influences with everything they've learned since leaving home. "As far as being family, it's cool. We get to see each other and hang out a lot because we're working," says Oliver. "Musically it's cool, too. I feel like there is some sort of built-in genetic vibe that goes on, in our singing especially."

The Wood Brothers debut studio release, Ways Not To Lose, produced by John Medeski, has been garnering critical acclaim since its release last year. The crowd at Joe's Pub was treated to selections from that record in addition to great new songs. The pair plans to get back in the studio in the next few months to start recording their follow-up to Ways.

Chris Wood by Dino Perrucci
They received a warm greeting from the crowd as Chris Wood picked up his trusty stand-up bass and Oliver Wood sat down and grabbed a gorgeous National Steel Guitar. A quick hello and they launched into the blues. Oliver's voice has an inviting, distinctive southern vibe that suits the songs well. Chris just manhandles the bass, effortlessly moving up and down the frets, while also lending fine vocal harmonies.

"Chocolate on my Tongue" found Chris sliding a bow across the bass strings to accompany Oliver's fine finger-picking for one of the sweetest songs off Ways. The new songs were fresh and played well for the quietly focused crowd. The first of the new selections, written by Chris, started out with Chris rhythmically banging the side of his bass as Oliver picked up the tempo for the fast paced number.

"The first record we just jumped in and made a record. I already had a bunch of songs," says Oliver. "But, this new record, we're basically writing almost every song together. It's a total collaborative effort. We both start off writing stuff alone but eventually we bring it together. [We] both spend a lot of time with the songs and they become really collaborative. That is one of the things we are most proud of."

For this NYC gig, The Wood Brothers brought along NYC drummer Kenny Wollesen, who also appears on Ways. The drums allow the brothers to stretch out a bit, get edgier, especially on songs like "Atlas."

The Wood Brothers
On "Where My Baby Might Be," Oliver quipped, "Chris Wood on the harp, ladies and gentlemen. On the bass he's a virtuoso. On the harmonica, well, he owns one." As the audience laughed, Chris was smiling and playfully flashing Oliver the bird - sibling rivalry at its best.

This bluesy number was incredible. Chris blew the harp and played beefy, ferocious bass lines, not letting up on the harp for a single breath. Oliver's National Steel guitar rang with beautiful slide sounds. Crisp and pristine when playing soft or crunchy like George Thorogood when needed, Oliver knows just how to compliment Chris's bass.

Other highlights included "Luckiest Man," "Walk Away," and "Glad." Every once in a while it's nice to sit in a small, dark club with people that respect hearing every note of an acoustic performance. Yet, as Oliver Wood points out, this is a duo that can handle any setting. They will be joining MMW on the road soon, as well as playing festivals this summer.

"It's a different kind of vibe! That's one of the things that's really special about what we're doing," says Oliver. "[We] sort of imply a larger group in a way. Chris is such a monster bass player; he's so rhythmic and strong. It feels like between the two of us we can almost make it sound like there is a third person with us. We can make a lot of noise."

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[Published on: 3/12/07]

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Patjcostell starstarstarstar Tue 3/13/2007 05:44AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I caught these guys up in Burlington opening for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and they blew me away, pretty much the entire reason I went to Newport last summer. If you haven't had a chance to see them live I recommend it. Wel written article, could have used some better pictures though. Thanks for the effort.

jelly1 starstarstarstarstar Tue 3/13/2007 08:05AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Go Oliver!
A Great Man...

Tony8 starstarstarstarstar Tue 3/13/2007 10:07AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Very good read! I love to hear about smaller acts and venues...sometimes those are the best! Very rootsy vibes.

phhil starstarstarstarstar Tue 3/13/2007 10:13AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


love the album. havent got the chance to see them yet. hopefully this summer. good article

phishr82 starstarstarstarstar Tue 3/13/2007 02:25PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i havent heard these guys yet but thanks to this article i will definately check them out. well written!

WILBUR!!! starstarstarstarstar Tue 3/13/2007 02:28PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


it's amazing how these brothers can be sooooo good at completely different styles of music. Oliver has an undeniabley fantastic and unique voice, and chris, well we know all about him!!! cant wait to see em this summer...

good article
needs more pics...

DarthHater starstarstarstarstar Wed 3/14/2007 06:16AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This article makes me want to move back to NYC and listen to some quality live music. I'll have to check them out if they ever get down to perform in the Miami area.

pat5507 starstarstarstarstar Wed 3/14/2007 06:41AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great article about a great band. If you get a chance go check them out. They're not anything like medeski, but i love them

BonnieB starstarstarstar Wed 3/14/2007 07:36AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Despite being older than your usual readers, I thoroughly enjoyed the article. The well-written description of the club setting (made me wish I had been there) and the relationship between the brothers made this article memorable. I'll be back.

OysterDead starstarstarstarstar Wed 3/14/2007 11:12AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Absolutely Killer!
I got the chance to see them in Raleigh 3/6. The crowd was quiet and small. Good vibes! Great Music! High Times!

Chris on harmonica and bass was epic in my mind. That dude rocked it!

chinchillafury starstarstarstarstar Wed 3/14/2007 07:33PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

"Chris just manhandles the bass, effortlessly moving up and down the frets, while also lending fine vocal harmonies".
I totally agree with this statement, but I can't help pointing out the fact that an upright bass does not have frets. Sorry for being the bass geek, I will accept your thumbs down rating. Long live Chris Wood / The Wood Brothers / MMW.

jonathanleeder Fri 3/16/2007 08:04AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This venue JOE'S PUB is one of the cooler venues in the city. I shot a Japanese Mastercard commercial here this past fall and couldn't wait to make it back for a real show. This past week I saw a UK band called FINK play an acoustic set and the sound was incredible. Def try and catch a show at this venue if you can.

yemmw starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/16/2007 05:11PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Saw them 3/3 in Memphis. I thought they were so good. Oliver came out and jammed with MMW during the second set. It was badass.

Stanleyfunkybutt starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/17/2007 12:39PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Correction: The drummer's name is not Kenny Wallace, it's Kenny Wolleson from Sex Mob. He is one of the finest drummers I've heard and his name deserves to be spelled right. He can be heard on records by Bill Frisell, Norah Jones, John Zorn and a tome of other shit I'm forgetting.

corinnemccabe starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/23/2007 04:54PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Rich's writing makes the reader (me) feel like I am actually at the show, feeling and seeing everything he experiences. He clearly has a gift for understanding and expressing the mood and atmosphere of a show that makes a reader feel like they are right there next to him. Besides this ability for creating an atmosphere Rich's article is clearly well written and I have come to trust and value his opinion implicitly.

julieef Thu 6/28/2007 10:27AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

These guys are the best!!! If you get a chance to see them MUST will be fans forever...I know we are!!! Miss you O!!

scrufjz1 starstarstarstar Fri 1/25/2008 06:08AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


just saw 'em for the 1st time last night. i have "ways not to lose" and the show just blew me away. covered 'midnight rider' and 'fixing a hole'. so cool!