Chris and Oliver Wood built their singular sibling duo patiently, transitioning over several years from divergent and distant musical careers. Since moving from separate cities to Nashville and adding drummer Jano Rix about five years ago however, The Wood Brothers have enjoyed accelerating success.
The trio further burnished its reputation as a studio band when its sixth album dropped to critical acclaim on Feb. 2. One Drop of Truth, on the band’s own Honey Jar Records, debuted at No. 11 on the Americana radio chart and jumped to No. 5 this week.
Days later, The Wood Brothers announced their first ever headlining show at The Ryman Auditorium set for Saturday, March 17. In an interview this week, Oliver and Chris reflected on the landmark booking.
‘We’re going to try to treat it like another show so we don’t freak out,” Oliver said, sparking brotherly laughter.
“Yeah, obviously it’s considered sacred ground,” said Chris. “I’ve played there before. Medeski, Martin and Wood played there. I find the stuff that really shines there is the stripped down acoustic stuff. So I know that kind of thing is going to work great in there.”
Chris says the house can expect the Woods’ usual variety, from around-one-microphone acoustic to full drum kit and electric guitar. Guests? They’re still deciding. Memphis folk soul standout Valerie June is set to open the show.
Chris: “You experience all your music in a new way when you put yourself in a new space or a new context, so just to have our show in that room is going to be something we’re going to enjoy experiencing just as much as anybody who might be watching.”
Ever-better halls and ever-larger venues have been commonplace since the Wood Brothers kicked their act into high gear around the turn of this decade. After growing up in Boulder, CO, where they played some music together and shared some core influences, they went separate ways musically for more than a decade.
Oliver played support guitar to blues man Tinsley Ellis and then formed the six-piece King Johnson, a funky road warrior band with horns and percussion out of Atlanta. Chris pursued his love of jazz at music school and then in New York where his trio with keyboardist John Medeski and drummer Billy Martin played rock venues (an inspired idea) and became the rarest of things, a popular progressive jazz band. At a combo show of the two bands, the brothers made music and began collaborating to reconnect. A four-album run on Zac Brown’s Southern Ground label firmly established them in the Americana world.
They already relied on intricate rhythmic interplay between guitar and acoustic bass, so when Jano Rix came along on percussion and drums, the band became as funky as any large ensemble out there, all in a tidy trio.
For the new One Drop of Truth project, the brothers tried a new approach, recording across several studios over many months, instead of holing up and tracking the full disc at once. They even had three different recording engineers mix different songs, depending on mood.
Oliver said it was the change of energy they needed. “It’s kind of fun to record the songs as they are written, because you’re sort of tapping that inspiration. Okay this song is hot, we’re excited about it. Let’s not put it on the back burner until we have ten more songs. Let’s go ahead and go in the studio and see what it does.”