Album Reviews

The Wood Brothers

Live at the Barn

Artist:     The Wood Brothers

Album:     Live at the Barn

Label:     Honey Jar/Thirty Tigers

Release Date:     01/13/2017


There’s an irresistible audience/band connection on this live date at Levon Helm’s Barn, which, if you’ve been there like I have, you know that it’s a superb listening room due to its unique combination of intimacy and pure sound within those wooden walls. It’s an ideal setting for the Wood Brothers and their organic blend of roots, blues and jazz, which has captivated their loyal audience. The Wood Brothers developed a special bond with Levon before he passed away, and were honored to be playing in his place for the first time since the passing. Oliver says, “Since we actually got to know him, his influence was more than musical – it was personal. He was one of those unique and powerful personalities, and I’ll always remember how gracious he was… we have fond memories of playing with him and Amy in that barn.”

The trio does an amazing job of mixing acoustic with electric as Chris’s upright bass blends with Oliver’s guitars and Jano Rix’s drums and selected keyboards. The audience enthusiasm is evident from the very first track, and as the band moves into ‘Got Loaded” (often associated with Los Lobos), there’s a rousing call and response between band and fans. On the third cut in, “Tried and Tempted,” the energy the room is palpable. The trio runs a fine line between delivering structured songs and jamming. In both cases they keep it nice and loose. “It’s so intimate and casual that it feels less like a concert and more like a living room jam,” says Oliver. It’s only fitting that they ended their set with “Ophelia,” which has become a mainstay in the Wood Brothers’ repertoire. “I’d like to think we’re part of the same lineage as the Band.  We certainly draw from a lot of the same roots, and they’ve always been an inspiration. Their music reminds us to be ourselves.” Enduring live albums are those that make you wish dearly that you were at the show. This set is one of those.

-Jim Hynes

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