REVIEW: The Wood Brothers at Turner Hall Ballroom

It’s been too long since The Wood Brothers graced Milwaukee with their presence, and let me say it was a welcome return. The blues rock Americana infused trio took to Turner Hall on Friday, Nov 7th to a packed house and without any bells or whistles started their show. There’s something about this type of music that fits perfectly in Turner Hall that allowed The Wood Brothers to really blow the roof off the place. Their simple blues riffs paired with their upright bass really brought their music come alive and wouldn’t wane in any portion of their set.

The Band

The Wood Brothers are an American roots band consisting of brothers Chris (upright bass) and Oliver Wood (acoustic and electric guitars), as well as multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix. Their music is a combination of folk, gospel, blues and jazz.

Dubbed “masters of soulful folk” by Paste, The Wood Brothers formed after brothers Chris and Oliver Wood pursued separate musical careers for 15 years. Chris already had legions of devoted fans for his incomparable work as one-third of Medeski Martin &Wood, while Oliver toured with Tinsley Ellis before releasing a half-dozen albums with his band King Johnson. With drummer Jano Rix added as a permanent third member, it’s become quite clear that The Wood Brothers is indeed the main act.

The Experience

The Wood Brothers are unlike many of the shows I typically see. In terms of music, very much my wheel house, but the confidence that The Wood Brothers have is unparrell to most other bands I’ve seen. These are musicians deep in their prime of creating and performing. Every note, beat and lyric is unique and wouldn’t sound nearly as good if performed by any other artist. Listening to The Wood Brothers is a humbling experience. It is the culmination of years or perfecting their sound and still delivering on new material.

Coming off their pandemic album titled Kingdom in My Mind, The Wood Brothers still provide the music their fanbase loves them for with some great tracks that were applauded and sang along with at this show, which is always welcome, especially when has 6 albums in their discography already. Some of their standout songs from this album like “Little Bit Broken” and “Alabaster” had some of their biggest crowd reactions, especially peppered between their more famous songs like “Postcards from Hell” and “The Muse”. There were little to no lull in the show, which can be surprising given a few of their slower songs. The Wood Brothers didn’t miss a cue from their audience and kept giving and giving, it was absolutely fantastic.

The times where their drummer, Jano Rix would step down from the drumset to come join the brothers were some of my favorite moments. At one point they gathered around a large microphone, dubbed “Bike Mike” and performed a few of their songs with the opener as well, which just adds to the growing community of this roots vibe the band carries throughout their style. The Wood Brothers went on to play an 18 song setlist with an encore to boot and it felt like the night happened still too fast. Anytime a band can leave me feeling like that will stick in my memory for a long time to come. I hope that The Wood Brothers don’t wait as long to make their Milwaukee return. If that Friday is any indication of what they’re capable of, then Milwaukee will be sure to turn out like they did, time and time again.

The Verdict

The Wood Brothers are not to be missed. The mixture of their unique sound, on stage presence, and all around down home vibe were a welcome treat. Their extended discography allows each song to tell it’s own story and leaves you wondering what’s next in terms of their shows as well as feeling familiar with whatever they might hold in store. I added The Wood Brothers to my list of never miss shows going forward. When the blues music hits your soul you know you’re hearing something special.

Set List:

Fall Too Fast
Mary Anna
Pray Enough
Postcards From Hell
Little Bit Broken
The Muse
Keep Me Around
Shoofly Pie
The One I Love
One Drop of Truth
Who the Devil
Sing About It
Liza Jane
Little Blue
Think About My Death
Happiness Jones
Luckiest Man


Honey Jar

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