Review | The Wood Brothers at The Granada Theatre

UCSB Arts & Lectures Presented Americana Band on October 12

The Wood Brothers | Credit: Alysse Gafkjen

Nothing says “Americana” quite like performers huddling together to harmonize at a single microphone. When one of the band’s vocal mics went out during her opening set for The Wood Brothers at the Granada, Kat Wright called for her bass and guitar players to “shack up” on the remaining one. This iconic image of people singing together, so central to our collective memory of the early recordings and radio broadcasts that brought folk music to the wider world, is known among those who practice it as “shacking up.” Thank you, Kat Wright, for the definitive label and the lovely set. 

There was plenty of shacking up with Big Mic during the ample and adventurous set that came next from The Wood Brothers. They opened with “River Takes the Town,” a great example of their approach to songwriting, which blends worldly specifics — Shreveport, the rain, the levee — with universality, like the feeling that “I’ll never be the same since you held my hand and kissed me.” Throughout the evening, the amazing, slinky grooves the Woods laid down recalled another family act out of Louisiana: The Neville Brothers. 

The Wood Brothers deliver a fiercely multifaceted show. Oliver, Chris, and Jano Rix display amazing virtuosity on so many instruments, and the totality is so rigorously designed, right through to the lighting and visuals, that it’s a challenge to single out any one aspect of what they do as more amazing than all the others. “Alabaster” might be my favorite song, but there’s no question that Chris Wood’s dancing is the group’s secret engine of joy. He reminded me of how I felt as a kid when Snoopy busted a move on the Peanuts Christmas special. Happiness is a great band.


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