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Published: 2008/06/04
by Dan Alford

The Wood Brothers, Bowery Ballroom, NYC- 5/17

It's not often that you find a quiet room in New York City, especially on a Saturday night. Yet when Oliver and Chris Wood were just notes into "Buckets of Rain," the whole Bowery Ballroom was still and listening, hanging on every note and vocal twang. That's not to say it remained so; there were of course scene staples like Drunk Girl down in front, and Idiot Solo Clapper, who was doing his best to spoil the Wood Brothers’ cover of "Angel"” for everyone. But it seemed that every time the crowd grew chatty, the pair played even quieter, drawing everyone back to the stage.

And there was, of course, much to appreciate on that stage, whether is was the off beat, slapping and thumping percussion on hollow body instruments to open "Twisted" or the incredibly tight, but nonchalant acoustic slide on “"One More Day"”or big brother Wood holding out that one note at the peak of "Fall Too Fast." There is something so wholesome and true about this pair of siblings working their way through such an amazing, albeit short songbook, something so delicate in Chris's vocals on “"Don't Look Back." But don't think it was a sleepy, quiet night. The pair certainly knows how to tear it up alone, and when there band doubled in size over the course of "Chevrolet" and “"Atlas," with the addition of John Medeski (who produced the new release on Blue Note, Loaded) and Kenny Wolleson (who plays on much of the album), they began to burn up the stage. The latter tune was rockin’and set feet flying as Medeski laid his burden down on those organ keys. A sweet, melancholy, down tempo "Loving Arms" followed, with a slick, sultry "Where My Baby Might Be" slinking up behind it. Cool wooden box drumming and haunting melodica set the tone- everything is creepier with Medeski; everything kicks more ass with Medeski.

Eventually the augmentations slipped away, and the duo was left for an excellent "Postcards From Hell" but Wolleson was back soon enough, adding brushes to “"Walk Away" and by this point every single song was shining- during "Pray Enough"” Oliver was up off the chair, playing hard, and Medeski was in full, well, full Medeski, kicked back and up on one foot, just letting it go. For the encore, the brothers played “"Chocolate on My Tongue," taking everyone to that warm whiskey sweet place, before bringing back their guests, along with Amos Lee, who added vocals to "Angel"” and the set-closing "Make Me Down a Pallet on Your Floor" earlier in the night, for "Luckiest Man," complete with a quiet Rhodes intro and devastating bass work. These guys really have something special going on, and it makes me feels good.

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