The Wood Brothers at The Jefferson Theater

The Wood Brothers at The Jefferson Theater
Charlottesville, VA
January 25, 2018
Writer/Photographer: Bob Adamek

The Wood Brothers opened up an extensive tour to support their upcoming album “One Drop Of Truth”, which will be released nationwide on February 2nd, at The Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville VA. The tour has them running pretty hard through April at this point, with dates already showing up in May and June. On this night the band was clearly ready to go back to work.

After a terrific set from the opening act, Stray Birds, The Wood Brothers welcomed the sold out house with the first track from the new record, “River Takes The Town”, a bittersweet feeling blues with beautiful harmonies. From there the band started to dive in to their considerably deep catalogue with, “Keep Me Around” from the album “The Muse” and then “Snake Eyes” from their last studio record “Paradise”.

At the beginning of “Snake Eyes” bassist Chris Wood took the first of two long forays on the night, into a modern day David Byrne-esc dance around the stage with and without his upright bass. His lean arms and legs curving and waving, it seems like he’s always on the edge of losing his balance, which he never does. The energy in the room and on stage was right, and Chris whipped up the crowd while his guitarist brother Oliver and drummer/percussionist/keyboardist Jano Rix set up the song.

Chris spent a lot of the night doing short dances when he wasn’t playing; he was fully immersed in the music. In fact The Wood Brothers seem to be transported when they are playing, all three members super focused on the music, listening and reacting to each other, all determined to never miss playing the right accent to back a solo, the right syncopation to deepen the groove. It is a marvelous thing to watch them playing in the pocket. It is a spiritual connection to the music and a determination to honor the audience by delivering exactly what they came to see. They care deeply about what they are doing.

After several more songs the band arrived at another song from their new record, “Laughing or Crying”. This song has a wonderfully moody opening where Oliver played a deliberate and dark rhythmic guitar, Chris played percussion on his upright bass and Jano added spooky little melodic phrases from his keyboard suped up to sound like a very distorted Fender Rhodes. This song in turn set the mood for a quiet section of the night, where the band unplugs and plays around a single condenser mic at the center of the stage. Chris called it their “Oh Wood Brother, where art thou” section. When the crowd finally quieted, the band went into “Firewater” and then a jaw-dropping version of “The Muse”.

Returning to electric play, they started with the last of three new songs, “Happiness Jones”, which they released through various media outlets and has also been making rounds on Sirius/XM radio. Chris plays electric bass on this track, and when he plays electric the gig gets decidedly funky. The energy never really let up from there and one of the night’s highlights came when the band let the crowd sing large chunks of “Luckiest Man” for them.

Another hi was Jano’s combination drum/keyboard solo. It’s hard to oversell Jano’s musical acumen. Whether playing his modified classical guitar called the Shiutar as a percussion instrument, his drum kit, keyboards or background vocals, Jano is simply as musical a musician as you are likely to ever see.

In fact, the band is as tight and musical a unit as you may ever see. Don’t miss them if they come anywhere close!