It's not as cool as it used to be to see The Wood Brothers. At least that's how it seemed January 14th when the duo played the Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground. But that observation has nothing to do with the pithy charm of the siblings' music‚ which remains intact‚ or the frigid temperatures outside the venue.
There was‚ in fact‚ more than enough body heat in the small room at the club because‚ in contrast to prior appearances of The Woods -- and so noted by Chris a half hour in -- the place was packed. And noisy to boot with the capacity audience's enthusiasm getting the best of them. The anticipatory recognition of songs like "Loaded" almost but not quite drowned out the subtle virtues of the modern gospel-laced country blues the duo play.
But The Wood Brothers welcomed the added enthusiasm‚ and they should because they deserve the recognition. The siblings are still like the music they play‚ unassuming and witty even when rendering something so deceptively cathartic as "Postcards From Hell." And the twosome‚ particularly guitarist/vocalist Oliver‚ quickly developed a rapport with their listeners -- at least those closest to the stage: "lotsa cleavage up here in the front…but it's all about the music‚ right?"
Whether everyone in the room caught that is debatable (though not moot) since it's that sort of nonchalance that is so essential to a Wood Brothers performance‚ live or recorded. Chris and Oliver are certainly gaining confidence in what they do -- the former more forceful in his harmony singing‚ while the latter sprung up from his chair for a quick guitar boogaloo late in the set -- but their delivery remains understated. So it was the blustery attitude of the attendees that was out of proportion to the relative quiet of this mid-week appearance‚ again perhaps in compensation for the wicked winter weather everyone was escaping.
The sinuous reggae arrangement of Jimi Hendrix' "Angel" was one moment audience and performer were right in sync‚ though the sing-along didn't quite materialize because‚ as is their wont‚ The Wood Brothers still don't improvise much. Though they could stand to stretch out more‚ as "Make Me Down a Pallet on Your Floor" lends itself to some full-fledged jamming beyond the fleeting participation of Grace Potter on harmony (she seemingly can't help but steal a show -- not necessarily a compliment) and The Nocturnals' drummer Matthew Burr.
In the long term‚ it's a good thing the Wood Brothers' appeal has outgrown tiny rooms‚ especially if their continue to nurture their music to grow likewise.
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