Anyone wondering about Wood & Wire's sound need not look any further than the four-piece band's name, which honors the purity of acoustic instruments and the gorgeous music a skilled artist can coax out of just simple wood and wire.
The Austin-based band's self-titled debut album, which will be released on February 5, 2013, is an engaging collection of music that is deeply rooted in bluegrass traditions, although the members themselves draw upon country and Americana and listen to everything from Doc Watson to Led Zeppelin.
Founded in 2010 by guitarist Tony Kamel and mandolin player Matt Slusher, who honed their acoustic skills playing with acts like Graham Wilkinson, South Austin Jug Band and Rodney Hayden, respectively, Wood & Wire began to take form when bassist Dom Fisher joined Matt and Tony's jam sessions. Last spring, the trio officially added Trevor Smith (Green Mountain Grass) on banjo and started making a name for itself on the Austin music scene, their infectious songs and high-energy live performances drawing fans to venues like the legendary Cactus Cafe.
Working with producer/engineer Erick Jaskowiak in Nashville, Wood & Wire cut fourteen stellar, original songs for their first album, which delivers what Smith describes as "a modern take on traditional mountain, hillbilly, and country music" and Slusher terms "Dirty Texas Grass." The material ranges from the historical ("Coal Mining One" is set in 1940s Kentucky) to the heartbreaking ("Setting the World on Fire") to the humorous (the raucous "Rollin' in the Washingtons" takes a less-than-sober look at the financial situations—or lack thereof--of touring bluegrass musicians who have a taste for liquor and an eye for the ladies), and they're all expertly arranged, thanks in part to the two band members who have had classical training. Tight, three-part harmonies, sprightly mandolin, and rolling banjo keep the band's sound grassy, while occasional contemporary flourishes, like the electric bass and the phaser effect on "Washingtons," speak to the group's diverse backgrounds and far-flung musical influences. Fiddler Brittany Haas adds an extra musical layer to several of the album's songs, including "Fool Out of Me," a waltz that, recorded live around a single microphone, feels as though it must have been found in a dusty stack of 45s and given new life.
Touring in early 2013 with Yonder Mountain String Band, Wood & Wire is poised to have a breakout year; as they bring fiery bluegrass footstompers and loose, acoustic jams to packed venues across the country, it'll be hard to say who's having a better time: the band or the crowd.