Reviews

The Wood Brothers: 24 September 2011 - Boulder, CO

Photo Credit: Matthew Speck.

The Boulder natives came home and put on a show full of bass solos, sing-alongs, drum breaks, and, of course, a groove.

The Wood Brothers

The Wood Brothers

City: Boulder, CO
Venue: The Fox Theatre
Date: 2011-09-24

It was kind of a weird night at The Fox, and for no other reason than they put some chairs in the front section of the floor for this show -- it’s normally a standing room only venue that gets overcrowded before it reaches its 650 capacity. There may have been the though that people wouldn’t be interested in dancing to the mostly laid-back Americana of The Wood Brothers. But sounds on an album can be deceiving: it was still a shuffle-your-feet kind of evening.

It was a hometown show for the brothers Wood. Chris -- better known for his work with Medeski, Martin & Wood -- and his older brother Oliver grew up together in Boulder, CO and "try to milk that as much as [they] can," according to Oliver. And rightfully so -- the Boulder faithful are proud, and will do just about anything short of mixing paper with plastic to defend their town.

Following an hour-long set by Clay Cook (Zac Brown Band, John Mayer, among others), The Wood Brothers took to the stage alongside drummer Jano Rix on a Saturday to a nearly packed house, and for the next two hours played a healthy mix of songs both upbeat and mellow -- full of bass solos, sing-alongs, drum breaks, and, of course, a groove.

The show consisted mostly of songs from their newest release, Smoke Ring Halo, including the title track, as well as "Stumbled In", "Made it up the Mountain", and show opener "When I Was Young". "Shoofly Pie", another from the new record, rides on Chris’s bass. Watching him play the line on his upright bass is like watching a grasshopper fight a spider -- his hand crawls and jumps all over the neck while Oliver waxes poetic about his favorite dessert.

What was most surprising to me -- though I’m rather familiar with their catalogue -- were the amount of references to faith in their songs. When just listening to an album, you might notice one or two that jump out at you. But with tunes from all four records mixed up and jumbled into one set, it was far more noticeable. It’s not that they’re being preachy though, it’s far from overbearing, nor are they classified as a religious band in any respect -- it’s just what they write about. Mostly, it seems to be Oliver’s pondering over faith, as one might question a lover (reference: most of the songs that have ever been written). Though many listeners are for some reason turned off by references to God of any kind in music, (meanwhile, it’s widely accepted in literature, film, fine art, etc.), this is a refreshing change. The Wood’s do it with grace, and don’t focus on it as a reason for listening to their music.

Although they focused mostly on new songs, they did not ignore their favorites from previous albums. A slowed-down version of "Pray Enough" from Loaded and a jacked up "One More Day" from Ways Not to Lose were certain highlights. After bringing Cook on stage for a few songs, the encore featured an Allen Toussaint song, "Get out of My Life Woman", which appears on their album Up Above My Head. The Wood Brothers original fan favorite, "Luckiest Man" from Ways Not to Lose closed out the show.

See larger versions of these images at PopMatters' Facebook Page.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image