Hailed by NPR’s Mountain Stage as “one of the most exciting bands to experience live,” The Wood Brothers—guitarist Oliver Wood, bassist Chris Wood, and drummer Jano Rix—have built their reputation on the kind of exhilarating performances that defy easy categorization. The trio’s delivery lives at the intersection of arena energy and theater intimacy, with songs that threaten to blow the roof off the joint one minute and bring a tear to your eye the next. At every turn, the band gleefully subverts expectation, surprising even themselves at times as they blur the lines between folk and rock, blues and funk, traditional and trailblazing. Given that pedigree, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect venue for the group than San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, where the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Muddy Waters, among others, have all left their mark, and where The Wood Brothers settled in for a two-night stand earlier this year that’s been faithfully captured on their essential new album, ‘Live at the Fillmore.’
“That room just feels like a classic from the moment you arrive,” Oliver says of the iconic space. “All of our heroes have performed there at one time or another, and it’s really special to be able to walk in their footsteps. It inspires us every we time we get on that stage.”
Drawing on performances from both nights, ‘Live at the Fillmore’ finds the band rising to meet the history of the room, feeding off their fans’ wild enthusiasm and intense focus to present a career-spanning set that showcases both their airtight harmonies and peerless musicianship. Rix simultaneously plays keyboards and drums to stunning effect on soulful show opener “Blue and Green” and a driving cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man,” while Oliver moves effortlessly between blistering Delta slide guitar on “Sky High” and tender acoustic fingerpicking on “Keep Me Around,” and Chris’s sinuous upright bass shines on “River Takes The Town” and kicks into overdrive on the mind-bending “Atlas.” Tracks like the breezy “Chocolate On My Tongue” and timely “Can’t Look Away” (a rarely-played deep cut with candid social commentary), take on new life with adventurous, extended improvisations, and reimagined versions of Tommy Johnson’s “Big Road Blues” and Charles Wright’s “Express Yourself” flow seamlessly in and out of the band’s original material.
“The longer we play together, the more we can read each other’s thoughts and anticipate each other’s musical choices, so we’re always evolving and reinventing aspects of our show,” says Chris. “The venue we’re performing in plays a big part in all of that, too. We made our last live album at Levon Helm’s barn, which is a very small, intimate place, but the Fillmore’s much bigger, and you can really hear that reflected in the scale of these performances.”
‘Live at the Fillmore’ follows The Wood Brothers’ most recent studio release, 2018’s critically lauded ‘One Drop Of Truth,’ which hit #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and garnered a GRAMMY nomination for Best Americana Album. NPR praised the record’s “unexpected changes and kaleidoscopic array of influences,” while Uncut hailed its “virtuosic performances and subtly evocative lyrics,” and Blurt proclaimed it “a career-defining album.” Tracks from the record racked up roughly 8 million streams on Spotify alone, and the band took the album on the road for extensive tour dates in the US and Europe, including their first-ever headline performance at Red Rocks and festival appearances everywhere from Bonnaroo to XPoNential.