Live on a Sunday evening at Philly’s Union Transfer venue, there was a whole lotta sonic sanctification goin’ on… (Photo by Matt Rea, via the band’s Facebook page.)
BY JOHN B. MOORE
The Wood Brothers have not received a lot of mainstream press coverage over the years. You’d be hard pressed to find their music on the radio. And still the band managed to pack Philly’s 1,200 seat Union Transfer on a cold Sunday in January recently. And it took just two songs from the neo-folk, blues, Americana revivalists to realize why.
The band started off the set with the stellar “The River Takes the Town,” off their just released album, One Drop of Truth (reviewed HERE), followed by “Keep Me Around” from 2013’s Muse. And that was all it took to win over the crowd that stayed with the band throughout the impressive set.
The trio, comprised of brothers Chris and Oliver Wood, along with drummer Jano Rox, played a blistering set that managed to fill the cavernous venue, despite only having three musicians up there (and two of them playing acoustic instruments). Although Oliver is technically the guy in front of the microphone, his brother Chris, deftly handling the stand-up bass, was the main focus throughout, swaying, dancing and playing his bass with both a bow and plucking at it like a rockabilly legend. You have to go back to the Stray Cats’ Lee Rocker in his mid-80s prime to find a bass player that can steal a show like Chris. Even Rox got off his stool for part of the set, picking up an acoustic guitar and playing it like a drum with open handed slaps and steel brushes.
Midway through the show, the trio huddled around an antique microphone to play through a series of solid traditional folk and blues numbers, including a remarkable take on “Midnight Special,” surrounded by members of Nashville’s Stray Birds, the show openers that night.
With little press or airplay, The Wood Brothers have managed to build a fervent fan base over the past decade thanks to little more than great songs and night after night of memorable shows. The Philly set proves that formula is still working remarkably well for the trio.