THE WOOD BROTHERS - Live in Ponte Vedra, FL
December 10, 2011 - Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
words : Scott T. Horowitz photos: Fran Ruchalski
Opening with the title track from their new album, “Smoke Ring Halo”, The Wood Brothers filled the hall with perfect harmonies on the first of many heart wrenching and soul stirring stories to stream through the vessels that are Oliver and Chris Wood. On “When I was Young”, Brother Oliver displays a level of self awareness that usually doesn’t come side by side with the candor he pairs with it. A song celebrating the uncertainties of growing older – how things one used to hold as important fade into insignificance and how things one would never ponder suddenly hold so much weight. Such realizations can bring uneasiness and the act of pondering what one ponders can bring up all sorts of fear; however, Oliver Wood’s light shines bright even from the darkest depths of thought and self observation. More often than not, songs are written of famous musicians and people of well-known stature.
Nonetheless, “Postcards from Hell” is about a musician so obscure that Oliver Wood didn’t bother saying his name for sake of the poor souls who would’ve cheered to pretend they knew who he was. Truth is, we’ve all seen the essence which is embodied by the focus of this song, but how many recognize it when it is performing amid flat screen TVs, in the corner of a loud bar, or on a street sidewalk? Oliver Wood has seen it, and more importantly he captured it in rhythm, melody, and word. With a profound reverence he sings, “And if you ask him how he sings his blues so well / He says I got a soul that I won’t sell / And I don’t read post cards from Hell”.
Chris Wood was an absolute force all evening. He provided low end foundations for his brother to trot upon as well as dishing out his fair share of ridiculous leads, with and without a bow. Also, he provided a marvelous vocal performance with his harmonies and above all with his moving display of lead vocals on “Don’t Look Back”. He sang, with eyes closed, for his late mother: “All I can do is follow your stare / And I don’t know where you’re going / But I will see you where the angels sing to me” which resonates with anyone who has lost a loved one to terminal illness.
A recent addition to The Wood Brothers lineup is drummer, percussionist, melodica player, & Shuitarist Jano Rix. He provided a very tasteful approach to drums and vocals and elevated the music to new heights. As a huge fan of The Wood Brothers being a duo, I must admit that Jano Rix is a perfect fit for making this group a trio.
After encoring with “Payday”, a song written by the folk legend Mississippi John Hurt and a splendid rendition of The Beatles’ “Fixin’ a Hole”, The Wood Brothers said farewell and thanked the crowd profusely for its great display of attentiveness and respect – providing a perfect space for the sharing of their genuine, and true, front porch soul music.
SETLIST: Smoke Ring Halo, When I Was Young, Pray Enough, Postcards From Hell, One More Day, Stumbled In, Don’t Look back, Luckiest Man, Bass Solo > Chevrolet, Chocolate On My Tongue, Shoofly Pie, Loaded, Spirit, Honey Spoon, Atlas
E: Payday, Fixin’ a Hole
Early in the evening, local folk phenomenon Whetherman warmed up the December stage with his patented tales of positivity and Midwestern melodic prose. Ably assisted by local songstress Rachel Murray, Whetherman continued his ascent through the consciousness of North Florida's acoustic music community.