Catasauqua Press

Monday, November 20, 2017
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOThe Wood Brothers, 7 p.m. Nov. 5, Sherman Theater Stroudsburg CONTRIBUTED PHOTOThe Wood Brothers, 7 p.m. Nov. 5, Sherman Theater Stroudsburg

The Wood Brothers ramble to Sherman Theater

Saturday, November 4, 2017 by LUKE MUENCH Special to The Press in Focus

As the name suggests, The Wood Brothers is as much family-oriented as it is a musically-talented band.

“[Chris Wood, bassist, and I] are good at balancing passion with compromise. Ninety-eight percent of the time, it’s awesome working with my sibling,” says guitarist Oliver Wood.

The Wood Brothers perform in concert, 7 p.m. Nov. 5, Sherman Theater Stroudsburg.

“We started this group later in our lives, so by then we had played separately, went off in different directions, and got involved in different scenes before we decided to play together. So, by the time we did, I was almost 40 and he was 36. We developed and grew up in our own ways, got rid of some of that baggage you carry.”

The mentality of family extends to the third member of the team, drummer Jano Rix, an honorary brother in many ways.

“He’s been on the team for six years now, so yeah, we call him family,” Oliver Wood says in a phone interview. “Musically speaking, we’ve definitely proven ourselves over the years together, all three of us, and that’s made a lot of things gel. There’s no substitute for time. Starting with a sibling genetic blend was an advantage and adding him has been great.”

The Wood Brothers are noted for performances at Levon Helm’s legendary “Midnight Ramble” at the late member of The Band’s Woodstock, N.Y., barn. The Wood Brothers returned to the barn Aug. 19, 2016, for the first “Ramble” since Helm’s passing, recorded for the album, “Live At The Barn.”

The group’s 2015’s critically-acclaimed “Paradise,” recorded in Nashville, Tenn., debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and launched The Wood Brothers into the most successful year of their career, with performances from Bonnaroo to Red Rocks to Carnegie Hall.

A strong focus of a number of The Wood Brothers’ songs is the audience interaction. The group encourages fans to sing along during certain parts or get involved in some manner.

“What has become important about [performing] is the connectivity of the way the music brings everyone together, and the audience with each other and with us, just making a room of people a part of us and vice versa.”

“It sounds corny but that connection between them and us, that’s what it’s all about, that’s what makes it feel good. It heals people and brings them together. It’s really important that the audience feels a part of it. I don’t think it’s a conscious thing in the show, but when talking about it afterwards it becomes clear to me that it’s important that they feel like they’re participating.”

In many ways, the diversity of audiences has helped Oliver Wood connect with them over the years.

“I feel like our fan base is an amazing cross-section of ages for one thing. I’ve had a lot of couples say that this is ‘their music,’ parents and kids say this is something they could agree on listening to, so, I dunno, in some ways I feel like demographically it’s nice and spread out in age and gender.”

For Oliver Wood, this makes something of a statement of how many of his audience members listens to The Wood Brothers’ music.

“I’ve witnessed some interesting pop trends recently, and some audiences get that music whether they are into it or not just by listening to the radio, and I don’t imagine they look for it, they just find it and consume it. ‘The Wood Brothers’ fans are more like me, in that they seek out the music they like.”

In many ways, it’s this connection that, for Oliver Wood, makes every performance a joy to be a part of.

“I almost feel like it’s beyond my control, but the connection with the crowd is still incredibly important. It’s a good feeling and helps you know you’re at that point of connection.”

In this sense, The Wood Brothers looks to create an atmosphere that communicates one incredibly important message to those who choose to listen.

“Well, it’s hard to think of one emotion, but I will say these days, just hopefulness. I keep going back to it, but the part of the music that makes everyone feels connected gives them strength and hope, and there’s a lot of things to feel hopeless about these days.

“I think what makes people feels hopeless is feeling alone and unloved, so the most gratifying thing that can happen as a performer is knowing that your song or album got someone through this terrible event in their life. The music has helped, and I would hope people feel happy and hopeful, two things that get forgotten about sometimes.”

Tickets: Sherman Theatre box office, 524 Main St., Stroudsburg; shermantheater.com; ticketsales@shermantheater.com; 570-420-2808