On Thursday, January 24, The Wood Brothers crossed another historic venue off of their “to-play” list. Since reopening in 2011, The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY (also found on the National Register of Historic Landmarks) has regained its status as one of the Empire State’s most popular venues. While the band has left their mark on rooms from Buffalo to Brooklyn and all the spaces in between, January 2019 would be the first time they touched down at Jerry Garcia’s beloved Westchester digs.
Thursday night’s gig was so significant to the trio that they offered a free live stream for fans across the country unable to attend. Priscilla Renea opened the show backed by her two-piece eclectic bandmates and thrilled the audience by singing some of her co-written worldwide hits. After meeting The Wood Brothers in Nashville while recording her debut solo album, Coloured, the boys asked her to join them on tour. Penning tunes popularized by Ke$ha, Rhianna, Mariah Carey and Fifth Harmony is a feat of its own, but after hearing her vocal range and seeing her stage presence, it is clear that there is more to Priscilla’s impressive skill set than making others famous. While already well-known to a southern audience, this was surely far from the last time fans will hear her name in the Northeast.
The headlining neo-folk act showed up on stage around 9:30 p.m. and kicked off their thirsty Thursday show with “Stumbled In”. Not usually known for on-screen appearances, The Wood Brothers did not seem as loose as usual and instead stuck with a straightforward approach throughout most of the performance. Not veering into the realm of improvisation does have its benefits, however, as they played with clarity and focus from start to finish, tackling songs that encompassed their entire 14-year career.
“This Is It” was the first of several songs throughout the setlist that can be found on the Grammy-nominated 2018 album, One Drop of Truth, which Oliver Wood calls, “The freest album we’ve done.” Smoke Ring Halo’s “Mary Anna” took the third spot in the set and was played with a faster tempo than usual—getting both the streaming audience and Capitol Theatre crowd moving. One reason fans continue flocking to Wood Brothers’ shows year after year is that the band likes to keep things fresh, for themselves and their audience. While the songs may never stretch to jam band levels of improvisation, the structures and approach to originals and covers alike are frequently modified from tour to tour. After Oliver gave a shout out to the opening act, “Pay Attention” was softly woven into the set. “Sky High” and “One Drop of Truth” were played back-to-back, and showed the range of roots featured of the newest album—the first with a southern-fried twang and the next with classic Americana notes. You can watch pro-shot video of the first few songs from the performance below via The Relix Channel.
The Wood Brothers – The Capitol Theatre – 1/24/19
After band intros, the three-piece band delicately played “Chocolate On My Tongue”, one of the first neo-folk original tunes that got them on the map in the mid-2000s. Since the debut of 2006’s Ways Not to Lose, Oliver and Chris Wood added the vital Jano Rix, who adds flavor to every studio and live recipe. On “Chocolate On My Tongue”, his backbeat drumming added an unexpected hip-hop spice to the slow-moving fan-favorite. The trio transitioned right into a high-energy “Trouble In Mind” which can be heard at a slower, more traditional tempo on the Live at the Barn recording. Once again showing their respect for the history of music, “Trouble In Mind” dates back to the 19th century and has been recorded by a myriad of artists from various genres long before Chris Wood ever picked up a bass.
Keeping their eyes on the crowd and not the cameras, the band paired two Paradise (2015) originals together with “Raindrop” and “Snake Eyes”. Chris added heavy effects to the electric bass and took control as Oliver changed guitars midway through the latter. After some rocking Wood Brothers, the crew brought out their old-timey single microphone for the section of the show they refer to as, “O Wood Brother, Where Art Thou?” The rowdy members of the audience were shushed by Chris and the trio peacefully harmonized on “The Muse”. To continue their theme of pairing up songs from the same album, the band invited Priscilla back onstage for The Muse (2013) track “Sing About It”. Priscilla’s deep and soulful vocals got the crowd howling over the quietly-played tune and it was clear to even The Wood Brothers that she had stolen the spotlight during her guest appearance with them.
Jano strapped on his personally invented instrument, the shuitar, for a hot version of “When I Was Young”. Although the band continues to stick to the one-set format, as soon as their traditional microphone gets put away, they tend to rage with a “second-set” renewed energy. “Where My Baby Might Be” was played with a True Detective title track feel as Chris delivered a super dank bass line that eerily bounced off the walls of The Cap. Aware of the crowd’s excitement, Chris rambunctiously hopped on Jano’s drum kit platform to rock out with his (un-blood-related) brother. Next up, Oliver cooled things down with “Postcards From Hell” and dedicated to the track to all the artists out there. In recent performances, “Honey Jar” has found the band running around stage like AC/DC, but in order to stay on-screen friendly, Oliver remained stationary for the set-closing rendition.
The band chose the Jimmy Reed cover of “Big Boss Man” as the first half of the encore before launching into arguably their most iconic tune, “Luckiest Man.” An impressive aspect of the encore was Jano’s incredibly versatile playing. It is unclear if he is the lucky one to have such a talented family duo in his band or if they are lucky to have such a diverse one-man-band in theirs. At certain points during the cover and the original classic, it sounded like there were at least four artists on stage as Jano softly played keyboard with one hand and banged on the drums with the other. One thing cannot be denied—as the popularity of The Wood Brothers continues to grow, so does their talent.
The Wood Brothers tour dates are currently scheduled nationwide through August. For a full list of upcoming dates, head to the band’s website. To find out if they win a “Best Americana Album” Grammy award for One Drop of Truth, tune into the ceremony on Sunday, February 10th.
Setlist: The Wood Brothers | The Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 1/24/18
Set I (9:26PM–10:48PM) : Stumbled In, This Is It, Mary Anna, Pay Attention, Sky High, One Drop of Truth, Chocolate On My Tongue> Trouble In Mind, Raindrop, Snake Eyes, The Muse, Sing About It, When I Was Young, Where My Baby Might Be, Shoofly Pie, Postcards From Hell, Honey Jar
Encore (10:51PM–11:00PM): Big Boss Man, Luckiest Man