The Wood Brothers

The Wood Brothers

Two brothers decide to form a band, adapting the blues, folk and other roots-music sounds they loved as kids into their own evocative sound and twining their voices in the sort of high-lonesome harmony blend for which sibling singers are often renowned. While that's not a terribly unusual story, Oliver Wood (guitar, vocals) and Chris Wood (bass, vocals, harmonica) took a twisty path to their ultimate collaboration.

Indeed, The Wood Brothers pursued separate projects for some 15 years before joining forces. Originally hailing from Boulder, Colorado, Chris and Oliver imbibed the heady tones and stories of American roots music – notably folk, blues, bluegrass and country – at the feet of their father, a molecular biologist with a passion for music and performing. Their mother, a poet, meanwhile, taught them a deep appreciation for storytelling and turn of phrase.

Oliver ended up in Atlanta, soaking up the roots of blues, the soul of the south and founded his band, King Johnson. Chris ended up in New York City and formed the hugely influential, instrumental trio Medeski Martin & Wood. In 2004, the brothers seized the opportunity presented by a family reunion andrecorded some material together. 2006 saw the release of their debut album, Ways Not to Lose, which was named top pick in folk by Amazon.com's editors that year. "Modern folk and blues rarely sounds as inventive and colorful," declared Amazon reviewers. The brothers' sophomore release, Loaded (2008), was heralded as one of NPR's "Overlooked 11." Both albums were produced by Chris' MMW bandmate, John Medeski.

In August, 2011, The Wood Brothers released their third full-length studio album, titled Smoke Ring Halo, on Zac Brown's independent record label, Southern Ground Artists. Produced and engineered by Jim Scott (Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams), Smoke Ring Halo has received critical praise. Paste Magazine lauds "Smoke Ring Halo only further cements the pair's reputation as masters of soulful folk." And Nate Chien of the New York Times exclaims, "This band has been working at something and it shows."

Chris Kasper

Chris Kasper is an American songwriter, with a style rooted in folk, rock and blues. His music has been compared to everything from Paul Simon to Beck. For the past 12 years, he has been on the road in one form or another, traveling in and out of his home base of Philadelphia, scoring shows and tours with the likes of Amos Lee, The Wood Brothers, and The Avett Brothers, among others. After 4 albums and 25 years of playing music, Chris has emerged as one of the most compelling musicians and songwriters, period. With his most recent recording, Bagabones, Chris steps into the shoes of producer and arranger. The result is an album of rare depth and true originality that stands up on its own to be recognized.

Bagabones was written in small cabin in West Hurley, NY, just outside the town of Woodstock. The cabin was built in the mid 70's by his late uncle and Chris felt the energy of Woodstock dance its way into these songs. By retreating there for the winter with a some notebooks, a pawn shop tape recorder, a rescued puppy and some fine spirits, Chris dove deep into his own musical history. Daily walks to the top of Byrdcliffe Mountain, spent listening to and studying his heroes, helped clarify his vision of songwriting and arranging. This also allowed Chris to hone in on certain producers and their style. Finding the right producer is like finding another member of the band. They play a key roll in the development and representation of the music, and the choice should not be taken lightly. When it came time to move forward, Chris decided since the vision was clear on what he wanted: he would produce himself.

Enter Kawari Studios and the artistry of engineer Matt Muir. His
knowledge of vintage gear and recording techniques focused in on a sound the loosely channels the Woodstock years of Van Morrison, The Band, and of course, Bob Dylan. Chris also used his touring band to play on the record. He knew that if he were to lose sight and burn out, his long time friends and the calm approach of Matt Muir would help reassure his direction.

Chris had some conscious sonic choices on Bagabones. The first was to eliminate crash cymbals from drummer Daniel "Skrappy" Bower's kit, giving the sound much more space and weight. The second was to use Phil D'Agostino's skills on upright bass to enhance the earthiness of it all. Further influenced by records like Beck's Sea Change and the soundtrack to Beasts of the Southern Wild, Chris collaborated with long time friend and fiddler, Kiley Ryan, to produce both lush string arrangements and rhythmic pizzicato sections. Finally, he saw an opportunity to again break the mold of predictability by diving into minor keys rather than (what was becoming known as) his signature major key, dreamy sound.

When it came time to mix, Chris sought out the mastery and expertise of long time Philly soul producer, Jim Salamone (Teddy Pendergrass). Jim brought out the subtleties to life, gave everything a sonic place and formed a tight bond with Chris and this record. By the end of this process, the both of them realized that they captured a sound rarely found from a self-produced, independent artist.

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The Wood Brothers with Chris Kasper

Wednesday, October 16 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Local 506

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