The Wood Brothers – Tickets – Granada Theater – Dallas, TX – December 4th, 2016

The Wood Brothers

The Wood Brothers

Ben Sollee

Sun Dec 04 2016

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Granada Theater

$29 - $45 (Fees Included)

This event is 14 and over

Doors @ 7p | Ben Sollee @ 8p | The Wood Brothers @ 9:05p

The Wood Brothers
The Wood Brothers
THE WOOD BROTHERS


The cover of The Wood Brothers' gorgeous new album, 'Paradise,' is adorned with an illustration of a mule staring at a carrot dangling just inches in front of its mouth. The carrot, though, is hanging from a stick affixed to the mule's own head.

"In some ways, he's already got it," explains guitarist Oliver Wood. "And in some ways,
he'll never have it."

That paradox is at the core of 'Paradise,' an album about longing and desire and the ways in which the pursuit of fulfillment can keep it perpetually out of our reach. It's a beautiful collection, the band's most sophisticated work to date and also their most rocking, with bassist Chris Wood playing electric on tracks for the first time. Recorded at Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye studio in Nashville, 'Paradise' captures the latest chapter in the ongoing evolution of a band—and a family—navigating the joy and challenges of a
life in music.

Dubbed "masters of soulful folk" by Paste, The Wood Brothers released their debut studio album, 'Ways Not To Lose,' on Blue Note in 2006. You'd be forgiven at the time for expecting it to be something of a side project. Chris Wood already had legions of devoted fans for his incomparable work as one-third of Medeski Martin & Wood, while his brother Oliver toured with Tinsley Ellis before releasing a half-dozen albums with his band King Johnson. Almost a decade later and with drummer Jano Rix added as a permanent third member, it's become quite clear that The Wood Brothers is indeed the main act.

'Paradise' follows the band's acclaimed 2013 release 'The Muse,' which was recorded almost entirely live around a tree of microphones in Zac Brown's Southern Ground studio. Hailed previously by the New York Times for their "gripping" vocals and by the LA Times for their "taught musicianship," the brothers found the live setting to be a remarkable showcase for their live chemistry and charismatic magnetism. But when it came time to record 'Paradise,' their fifth studio album, the band knew the music called for a different approach.

"For this album, we wanted to have a more up-close and dry sound," explains Chris. "I worked on another record at Easy Eye and I just loved the room. Dan's studio is cool because it's not old, but it feels that way when you walk into it. It reminds me of Sun Studios. It just has that feeling of a small room with natural compression, and I think you hear that in the sounds on the record."

The decision to record in Nashville was no coincidence either, as this marks the first album written with the entire band living in Music City.

"Oliver and I spent a lot of hours just in a room together writing songs," says Chris. "That's really never happened before. All the music in the past was written long distance or over the course of touring. It's definitely the most collaborative album we've ever made."

"It was kind of a luxury to be able to play together not just at a soundcheck," adds Jano. "It was a different starting point. Rather than people bringing in compositions that were relatively finished, we were starting from the ground up as a group."

The album opens with "Singing To Strangers," which sets the tone for what's to come both musically and thematically.

"Singing to strangers is something we do every night," explains Oliver, "and there's some satisfaction about singing to strangers. It's this weird thing that I think we get addicted to. It's not that we need attention as much as we need connection. On a good
night, when we're singing to strangers, everybody in the room bonds, and you have this amazing sense of connection."

That desire for connection permeates the album, from "Touch Of Your Hand"—a song about what Chris describes as "the most basic human need that there is to "Two Places"—a track about longing for home and family while on the road—to "Never And Always," which examines the fundamental emotional experiences of loneliness and belonging. "Snake Eyes" and "American Heartache" both explore the dark side of longing, how the constant need for more in our consumer culture can engender a perpetual dissatisfaction with never having enough, while on "Without Desire," they find the beauty and the magic that the titular emotion can bring into our lives.

"Desire gets a bad rap sometimes," explains Chris, "and people think it’s the root of all of our problems. We wanted a song that said, 'Maybe it's not, maybe we need it.' What would it be like if we didn’t desire all those good things in life?"

In addition to Chris's electric bass, which appears on two tracks, the album also showcases Jano's "shuitar," a portmanteau for "shitty guitar." The name belies the instrument's complexity, though. It's actually an acoustic guitar that Jano has rigged up with noisemakers to function as an easy-to-travel-with drum kit.

"I made one in The Wood Brothers because we needed a portable drum set we could take to play on sessions and on the radio," he explains, "but then we've been using it so much live, we started writing for it and not wanting it to even sound like a drum set anymore. We wanted to let it be its own thing."

It turns up prominently on "Heartbreak Lullaby," which also features guitar playing from Oliver inspired by field recordings of African folk musicians. There's more to Jano than percussion, though, as he sits down at the piano on several tracks on 'Paradise,' including album closer "River Of Sin."

"That song imagines how when people get baptized in a river, it's supposed to wash away their sins," explains Chris. "But what happens to the water? Where do the sins go? And what if you live downstream from all that baptizing?"

"A lot of the songs are dealing with these themes of longing and desire," adds Oliver, "but the album finishes with 'River of Sin' because it's a positive and empowering message, which is that you can't really do anything unless you're persistent. The narrator is humble and understands that there are all these things larger than him and he's just trying to understand them and he's determined to do better and be as good as he can. And he recognizes the only way to do that is to keep trying."

It's a fitting, lovely, gospel-tinged ending to an album that traces both the darkness and the beauty in our nature, the perpetual hope and the futility of it all. The quest for the carrot often blinds us to the fact that we already possess it, and that's the irony of desire.

"He who is not contented with what he has would not be contented with what he would like to have." Socrates said that.

"I can't live without desire / If I didn't want anything / Why would I rise? / Why would I sing?" The Wood Brothers said that.
Ben Sollee
Ben Sollee
Kentucky-born cellist and composer Ben Sollee likes to keep moving. He kicked off 2014 with the release of his score for the documentary film Maidentrip. In March, he performed at Carnegie Hall as part of a tribute to Paul Simon. And you may have caught Sollee on the road supporting song-writer William Fitzsimmons throughout April and May. If you've seen him perform, you know it's not to missed.

For listeners just discovering Ben's music, you'll find that there's a lot more to it than songs. Over the 6 years following the release of his debut record, Learning to Bend, Sollee has told an unconventional story with his rugged cello playing. Seeking a deeper connection to communities on the road, Ben first packed his touring life onto his bicycle in 2009. Since then he has ridden over 4,000 miles from show to show. He has been invited to perform and speak on sustainability at a number of festivals including South by Southwest Music (2011) and TEDx San Diego (2012).

Closer to home, Ben has devoted a tremendous amount of energy to raising awareness about the practice of mountaintop removal mining in Central Appalachia. His 2010 collaborative album Dear Companion (Sub Pop) brought together fellow Kentucky artist Daniel Martin Moore with producer Jim James (My Morning Jacket) to shed light on the issue. In teaming up with international organizations such as Patagonia Clothing and Oxfam America, Ben has come to be known as a thoughtful activist who mobilizes his audiences to take environmental actions through the power of live music.

Like his contemporaries Chris Thile and Abigail Washburn, Sollee's music is difficult to pin down. Following a performance at the Lincoln Center's American Songbook series, the New York Times remarked how Sollee's "…meticulous, fluent arrangements continually morphed from one thing to another. Appalachian mountain music gave way to the blues, and one song was appended with a fragment from a Bach cello suite, beautifully played." It's Ben's quality of narrative and presence on stage that unifies his musical influences.

However, always on the move, Sollee's musical career has expanded beyond the stage into film and TV. Shows like ABC's Parenthood and HBO's Weeds have placed featured Ben's songs. In 2013, he was invited by director Mark Steven Johnson to write a song for the film Killing Season starring John Travolta and Robert De Niro. Ben has also has written music for ballet, most recently performing with the North Carolina Dance Theater in the world premiere of Dangerous Liaisons, and is currently at work on scores for several pieces of theatre. He continues touring, including headlining dates throughout the United States in the fall of 2014, and has recently returned from his first solo tour of Europe, which took him to three countries to play eleven shows in two weeks.