The Wood Brothers

Boarding House Park
40 French Street
Lowell, MA Venue Information
Buy Tickets Thursday July 9, 2015 7:30 PM
$35 in advance / $110 premium / $40 day of concert
No ticket fees!

Special Guests:
Tall Heights

Since 2006, Chris and Oliver Wood have released three studio albums of Americana as The Wood Brothers. Chris is a founding member of the jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood, and Oliver spent years as blues great Tinsley Ellis's guitarist. After pursuing separate musical careers for some 15 years, the brothers performed together at a show in North Carolina and decided they needed to play together. A demo landed them a record deal with Blue Note, who released Ways Not To Lose in 2006. Follow-up Loaded came in 2008; after covers EP Up Above My Head. The next year, the band moved to Zac Brown's Southern Ground Artists for Smoke Ring Halo and then 2012's Live, Volume One: Sky High and Live, Volume Two: Nail and Tooth.

From early in their childhood in Boulder, CO., Chris and Oliver were steeped in American roots music. The brothers bonded over bluesmen like Jimmy Reed and Lightnin' Hopkins, but their paths, musical and otherwise, would diverge. Oliver moved to Atlanta, where he played guitar in cover bands before earning a spot in Tinsley Ellis's touring act. At Ellis's behest, Oliver began to sing and then founded King Johnson, a hard-touring group that would release six albums of blues-inflected R&B, funk and country over the next 12 years. Chris, meanwhile, studied jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music, moved to New York City and, in the early '90s, formed Medeski Martin & Wood, which over the next two decades would become a cornerstone of contemporary jazz and abstract music.

The experience of recording their latest album, The Muse, marked a deeper level of collaboration for The Wood Brothers, a newfound fraternal synchronicity. Within the first few bars, it's clear the brothers are operating on a different plane than when we last heard them on 2011's Smoke Ring Halo. The components are similar: the dialed-in vocal harmonies, Oliver's gritty acoustic guitar, Chris's virtuosic upright bass, the warrior poet lyrics. But here there's a glue holding it all together. The cohesion comes from the brothers having spent the last two years on the road with new full-time member Jano Rix, a drummer and ace-in-the-hole multi-instrumentalist, whereas they relied on session musician-friends to fill out previous albums. Jano's additional harmonies give credence to the old trope that while two family members often harmonize preternaturally, it takes a third, non-related singer for the sound to really shine. And then there's Jano's work on his patented percussion instrument, the "shuitar," a shitty acoustic guitar rigged up with tuna cans and other noisemakers, which, in his hands, becomes a veritable drum kit.

On The Muse, the album shuffles between bluesy, classic country and swampy funk, mining the brothers' timeless influences (Robert Johnson, Willie Nelson, Charles Mingus) while sounding fresh enough to win over fans of today's mainstream roots-music acts (The Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons). The title track shows Oliver's songwriting at its most tender and autobiographical to date, as he sings of his "finest work yet" - his newborn child - in his endearingly offbeat voice, which The New York Times calls "gripping." Chris takes the vocal lead on "Sweet Maria" and "Losin'," and capably so, while on his standup bass, he's often playful, even rascally, imbuing the songs with humor with his warm, unpredictable notes. Jano, when not banging on his shuitar, adds refreshing flourishes of piano and melodica.

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Special Guest: TALL HEIGHTS

"Tall Heights's delicate melodies and gentle harmonies create a rare public space where the people can slow down, even stop, and suspend the chaos of city life in exchange for some really great music." - Meghna Chakrabarti, WBUR

"With a guitar, a cello, and two voices in sublime harmony, Tall Heights creates quiet pastoral music out of city life. Call it urban Americana. Call it simply gorgeous." - John Platt, WFUV

"If you still remember how happy your ears were when you first listened to Bon Iver or Arcade Fire and realized you'd stumbled into singer/songwriter oblivion... you can trust me when I say this show is worth seeing." - Boston Magazine

Tim Harrington and Paul Wright got their start playing for spare change in Boston's Faneuil Hall Marketplace. In a few short years since, Tall Heights has headlined venues across the country and toured down to Austin, TX to showcase at South By Southwest Music Festival.

For the duo's debut full-length effort, Man of Stone (May 2013), Tall Heights sinks deeper into the vast world they've meticulously built for two. The title track and first single, "Man of Stone", recalls a time when cavemen documented day-to-day existence on the walls of their stone-sheltered dwellings. "Emblems of cavemen they taught me / the importance of typing in bold," contextualizes the rest of the record and challenges a careful listener to view each song as a vital documentation of what is both banal and extraordinary. The record exists in a fire-lit, shadowy space for their growing army of fans to inhabit. After two powerful EPs, there has been a growing cry for more from these young artists and Tall Heights delivers with an LP of grand vision and scale.

Tall Heights released their first EP, Rafters, in September 2011. In a time when artists of their genre oft retreated to the wilderness to record, Tall Heights stayed in the city. These five tracks were recorded over a few sweltering months in a small bedroom of their Boston apartment with an SM58 microphone, an iMac, a guitar, a cello and their voices. And, although there was neither cabin nor lake, Rafters spread across their Thoreauvian folk scene like brushfire.

With their sophomore release, The Running of the Bulls EP (October, 2012), Tall Heights responded to their fans' growing hunger to download and relive the enchanting, bottomless ambiance of their live performance. Over four days at Q Division Studios in Somerville, MA, Tim and Paul shut their eyes, breathed and performed, recording some of their most haunting material. Thematically, the EP's narrative voice, quiet and bold, continually locates the artist as a vigilant figure on a fast-paced and ever changing landscape. Fittingly so, The Running of the Bulls EP, humble and live, further established Tall Heights as an ever stronger force on this robust folk scene amongst the nation's most esteemed new artists.

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