The Wood Brothers are singer/guitarist Oliver and bass/harmonica/background vocalist Chris with drummer/melodica/chitar/backing vocalist Jano Rix. The trio plays everything on the verge of rhythm and blues, soul, gospel, folk, jazz and blues. All in this pleasant way. Every song has this melody that is explored in depth and the most is gotten out of one harmony wise. Musically there is never a dull moment, as this trio is good. Songs are flowing freely, organically and musically. Not only listening is advised when attending the Wood Brothers, watching how they play is also. All three are extremely proficient on their instruments.
It is safe to say that The Wood Brothers are descendants from The Band. The melodica is the poor man's replica of Garth Hudson's accordion. I just could not help picturing Hudson on stage at those moments. The rough voice of Levon Helm is missing in the Wood Brothers, but the rest is there, including an encore of 'Ain't no more cane'. (Not the first time that I heard that song in the Q Bus!) Thus all directions of Americana, old and new, were explored by the trio. It made for a very diversified evening, 'Across the great divide' and back..
There are some things that stand out. The drummer picks up a, cheap looking, guitar before the first song and this melodica. The guitar however is his version of a charismo. Miked-up, all sorts of percussive sounds come from the instrument, more a bongo with all sorts of embellishments. In between he plays keyboard parts. Chris Wood plays a stand up bass so old that it looks like it traversed the Wild West and everything since. Still all these beautiful, smooth sounds come out of it, belying its looks. A little harmonica is played as well. Oliver sings with a bit nasal sound, close to a Southern drawl we know from the movies, but has a fine, clear voice. As soon as Chris and Jano weave themselves around Oliver's voice, magic is in the air. Jano displays all these tricks with drumming, incorporating percussive instruments into the drumming and adds major to the sounds of the two brothers and sings great in his own right as well.
A major highlight was Chris Wood doing a Ry Cooder, 'Paris, Texas' trick on his bass. Bowing the instrument he played this desolate blues with all the wines and stops like Cooder does on the soundtrack of Wim Wenders' famous desert movie. This was pretty amazing. With naming Ry Cooder here's another big name the Wood Brothers compare to and favorably. Both explore American music of the past and bring it to the here and now.
To conclude. This was a fun evening with great musicians. They plan to be around again next year, I would not miss them if I were you.
You an order 'Loaded' here
or 'Smoke ring halo' here