It’s been a long and winding road for The Wood Brothers. Prior to forming in 2004, the duo made up of guitarist/vocalist Oliver Wood and bassist/vocalist Chris Wood had lived two distinct musical lives. Growing up together in Boulder, Colorado, the brothers were constantly surrounded by music. “It was always a big thing in our house,” said Chris recently via phone. “Our dad could have been a pro musician, but he went a different way and became a biologist. But he played around a lot. He knew a million songs and was really into the folk stuff of the ’50s and ’60s. Between him and his record collection, we were always exposed to music.”
The brothers spent their teens playing side by side but went their separate ways when Oliver, the eldest, departed for college. Over the course of the next 13 years, the Wood boys would go on to pursue music on their own unique terms. Chris began seriously gigging in his teens, eventually meeting up with John Medeski to form the seminal experimental jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood. Meanwhile, Oliver took to the road with bluesman Tinsley Ellis, with whom the young guitarist cut his teeth before forming his own band, King Johnson.
The brothers’ tours eventually crossed paths in the early ’00s, which led to jamming, writing, and finally a 2006 album, Ways Not to Lose. Today, the pair is going strong with four full-lengths and two new live records under their collective belt. Sonically, The Wood Brothers boast a lively and feel-good sound born of Oliver’s blues chops and Chris’s intricate fretwork, making for some of the most authentic and classic-sounding contemporary roots music out there today.
Ask Oliver, and he’ll tell you the project is as much about paying homage to his icons (Jimmy Reed, Lightning Hopkins, the Beatles) as it is about nurturing family ties. “Our mom passed away and our dad’s getting up there, so it’s just nice to be close to family,” he explained, “especially when you’re talking about songwriting, which is a very deep and personal thing. My brother and I have the same history and the same baggage. Our mom was a poet, so it’s kind of cool that we’re carrying on what our parents were really passionate about.”
The Wood Brothers play SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Thursday, November 15, at 8 p.m. Call (805) 962-7776 or visit clubmercy.com for tickets and info.