The Wood Brothers, Todd Snider and more

Mountain Stage w/ Special Guest Host Peter Mulvey

The Wood Brothers, Todd Snider and more

Sun · June 24, 2018

Doors: 6:30 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

$20.00

This event is all ages

Presented during FestivALL Charleston by Holiday Inn and Suites at Charleston Conference Center.

Available to Mountain Stage Members March 16 at 10am.

On-sale to public: March 23 at 10a.m.

Advance Tickets: $20

Day of Show: $35

Available online, by phone (877.987.6487), or at Taylor Books - Downtown Charleston.​​

Become a Mountain Stage Member for public radio perks and early access to tickets! mountainstage.org/member

The Wood Brothers
The Wood Brothers
“It’s the freest album we’ve done, the most independent album we’ve done, and was the most fun we’ve ever had making a record,” says Oliver Wood. “And most importantly, this is the most purely Wood Brothers’ album we’ve ever made.”
Indeed, The Wood Brothers’ sixth outing, ‘One Drop of Truth,’ dives headfirst into a deep wellspring of sounds, styles and influences. Whereas their previous outings have often followed a conceptual and sonic through-line, here the long-standing trio featuring brothers Oliver and Chris Wood along with Jano Rix treat each song as if it were its own short film. The plaintive, country-folk of the album’s opening track “River Takes The Town” gives way to the The Band-esque Americana soul of “Happiness Jones.” The wistful ballad “Strange As It Seems” floats on a cloud of stream of consciousness, standing in stark contrast to “Sky High”—a Saturday night barnburner built upon stinging slide guitar funk. “Seasick Emotions” is rife with turmoil, yet “Sparking Wine” is jaunty and carefree. The end result is undeniably The Wood Brothers’ most dynamic recording to date.
“Often, when you’re making an album in the traditional way, there will be a unifying concept, whether that be in the approach to the music stylistically or lyrically in terms over the overall narrative. And even though there are some themes that revealed themselves later, this one is all over the place,” explains Oliver Wood. “What I really love about this record is that each one of these songs has its own little world. There are diver-se sounds and vibes from one track to the next.”
Building off the success of their previous studio album, 2015’s ‘Paradise,’ which was dubbed “the warmest, most sublime and occasionally rowdiest Wood Brothers release yet,” by American Songwriter, the band found themselves at a fortuitous crossroads. Following a tour with Tedeschi Trucks Ba¬¬¬¬¬nd, high profile festival dates and sold out headline shows, the band felt free from the cyclical album release, tour, write, record and do-it-all-over-again pressures of the traditional music business. With all three members living in Nashville affording easy access to each other and a wealth of local independent studios at their disposal, they started work in January of 2017 with a new approach.
“Instead of going into one studio and recording it all at the same time, we picked a couple studios, and started to experiment,” says Chris Wood. “Sometimes we’d just make demos of songs to see if we got anything we liked. There was no pressure, and that really freed us up. We just did one or two songs a day, put it aside, let the songs simmer, and then we’d have a fresh perspective on what was working or not working. You need time to go by to gain objectivity.”
The band extended this approach to the mixing process, sending tracks to four different mixing engineers, each selected based on what the song demanded. Scotty Hard (who’s worked extensively with Medeski Martin & Wood, among others) was recruited for the “edgier, funkier tunes,” “Sky High” and “Happiness Jones.” Mike Poole (who worked on The Wood Brothers album ‘The Muse’) mixed “Sparkling Wine” and “Strange As It Seems.” Their old friend Brandon Belle from Zac Brown’s studio Southern Ground took on “Laughin’ Or Crying.” The remainder of the album was mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Trina Shoemaker, especially sought after by The Wood Brothers for her work with Brandi Carlile.
While the songs on ‘One Drop of Truth’ achieve the goal of standing on their own, a few common themes did, inevitably, emerge. Water—whether in a teardrop, a storm, a river or a libation—was being used as a metaphor in the search for truth and happiness. Chris Wood’s “Seasick Emotion,” one of two songs he sings on the collection serves as a prime example: “All the blue sky is gone / How can I get out of bed / This hurricane in my head / I’m just a boat in a storm / How can I know where to go / When everything that I know / Is already lost in the wind.”
“That one was written last fall during a hurricane, while at the same time the election was coming up, and there was all this crazy energy in the world,” Chris reveals. “I definitely got swept away emotionally by everything that was going on.”
Album opener, “River Takes the Town,” takes on both figurative and literal meaning. It was completed just as a series of hurricanes were decimating parts of the U.S.: “It's been a few days since I heard any word from you / and I don't sleep easy, I don't sleep easy / and the rain keeps comin’, the rain keeps comin’ / nothin's ever for certain / 'til the levee breaks down / the water comes in and the river / the river takes the town.”
“I remember hearing a news story about a flood in Shreveport, and I wrote the line ‘I hope the levee in Shreveport does what it's supposed to do,’” explains Oliver. “I was writing literally, at first, about how scary it must be when people lose power and communication with those they love. But then the lyrics became a metaphor for something more interpersonal. And by the end of this summer, it seemed to take on new meaning yet again.”
Though emotional struggle is a recurring thread, so is the comforting truth of how much wisdom comes from the hard times. The song “Happiness Jones”, was based on a news article Oliver read about how our society is addicted to happiness, antidepressants, and the distorted “happy” reality social media can depict. As a result, people feel like it’s unnatural to be sad, yet. sadness can be a gift: “All of my wisdom came from all the toughest days / I never learned a thing bein’ happy / all of my sufferin’ came / I didn’t appreciate it / I never learned a thing being happy.”
While the majority of ‘One Drop of Truth’ was written and recorded as a group, the standout track “Strange As It Seems,” described by Chris as, “a classic Oliver song,” was an exception.
“I had recorded it a couple months before Chris and Jano added their parts, so I was excited to see what they would do with it. We talked a lot about it having a dreamlike quality to it. Chris has all these cool sound effects that he can make with the bowed bass, and then Jano played the melodica and the piano on it, and they added exactly the atmosphere that it needed,” explains Oliver. “Conceptually, I almost think of it like a Tim Burton movie, where you go to sleep, and you go into this dream world, to meet your lover, but you do so with purpose. You bring your wallet, you get dressed up, you’re going on a date. The idea being, that you rendezvous in the dream. One of my favorite things about any song is ambiguity, leaving it open to interpretation. Maybe the man and woman in this song are already married, and they’re on separate sides of the bed, and they’re disconnected, so they’re hoping to find a better version of a partner in their dreams. Or, maybe they are two lonely people, in separate places, finding each other in this dreamworld. But at the end of the song, the guy wakes up, and he goes down to the kitchen, and he’s with his wife and it’s a beautiful thing, and they dance in the light. So perhaps there’s also an element of hope, whether they’re lonely, or they’re disconnected, there’s still a connection there, sometimes you have to go to that other level to realize it.”
Fittingly titled, ‘One Drop of Truth,’ the latest entry in The Wood Brothers evolution finds three musicians being true to themselves. At a point in their career where most artists would be looking to strategically position themselves for even greater commercial success, they instead turned to artistic expression in service of the muse. In chaotic times when honesty is in short supply and ulterior motives seem to always be at play, The Wood Brothers put faith in themselves and ultimately their audience by writing and recording a collection of songs that is honest and pure. As they sing on the album’s title track: “Rather die hungry / than feasting on lies / Give me one drop of truth / I cannot deny.”
Todd Snider
Todd Snider
You don't expect barrelhouse boogie woogie, straight up garage rock or power pop from the ratchety voice who gave you "Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues," the iconic East Nashville Skyline or the Great American Taxi-backed Time As We Know It: The Songs of Jerry Jeff Walker. Yet fresh from fronting the freewheeling social commentary of the jam-meets-Tom Petty Hard Working Americans – featuring Widespread Panic's Dave Schools and Chris Robinson Brotherhood's Neal Casal – Todd Snider's Eastside Bulldog suggests there's a new kinda rumble under the hood of the iconoclastic troubadour.
"I think if you work so hard to be taken seriously, you've missed the rock and roll," Snider says with a wry smile, equal parts Shakespeare's Puck and naughty teenager. "What's wrong with uptempo and positive? This is Saturday night: crank it up when you're ready to go out, drive too fast, get yer ya-yas out. Just let it go, and dive in -- and get rockin'."
 Random notions sunk into the East Nashville soil when the cabin-fevered folkie would spend time at home. Knowing you can't saturate the market, he'd call up friends like Elizabeth Cook and Kevin Gordon, and hit various bars under the moniker Elmo Buzz & the Bulldogs. The randy, rousing group – "kinda like the Rolling Thunder Review, with horns and girls" – quickly became a hipster's favorite, mating Jerry Lee Lewis' fraught rock with the Kingsmen's swing'n soul.
 Never intended as more than a local kick-out-the-carbons joyride, the Bulldog buzz infected more than East Nashville's 5 Points neighborhood. A day of recording with Emmylou Harris' steelman/original Mavericks' producer Steve Fishell – for a master class he runs – captured the combustion and kinetics in a way that merged crazed music lovers, alcohol and freewheeling musicians.
But it wasn't until manager Burt Stein encouraged Snider to take his Dogs to Cash Cabin to try and catch lightning in a studio one more time that the music from the "mythic" Elmo Buzz, the never-made-it bar-rocker whose schtick the Peace Queer creator "stole," was crystalized, and was finally committed to tape. Eastside Bulldog is romp, a stomp and one hell of a party.
"This," Snider enthuses, "is the afterparty after the party."
From the Bo Diddley grindhouse bully smackdown "Enough Is Enough" to the freewheeling "Secret Agent Man"-style pep club rally "Eastside Bulldogs," the bass heavy, horn squonking instrumental "Bocephus" that evokes the Champs' "Tequila" with its own feverish cry of Hank Williams Jr's nickname to the Fats Domino meets Little Richard rager "37206," which proclaims "I got the tshirt – and the bumper sticker," this is Snider unbridled.
"We're kinda like the Kingsmen: they're always blazing and they barely make it when the vocal kicks in. Like the end of the solo on 'Louie, Louie,' that's my favorite musical moment ever... Because just when you think it's all gonna fall apart, it comes together and explodes. It's so good!"
One listen to the careening refrain of "chicks and cars and partying hard," with Jen Gunderman's pumping piano and Snider's slamming surf guitar on the music business skewering "Hey, Pretty Boy," it's obvious that spun-out fishtailing is where it's at for the man whose writing's been hailed by John Prine, Jimmy Buffett, Kris Kristofferson, Keith Sykes and Guy Clark. Snider sees no compromise or contradiction in these euphoria-pumping party songs.
 "To me, it's a deeper thing: If you don't think 'Whomp Bop A Lu Bop' is genius, you're missing it. As a person in folk, I think 'Sha na NA na NA' or a bunch of 'shadoobies' are the lyric that's got it! 'Tuttti Frutti' is deeper than 'Blowin' In The Wind,' even as the guy who wishes he'd written 'Blowin' In The Wind.' It says more about everything, love, rage, sex – all of it."
It doesn't hurt that Snider's current cavalcade of songs includes the barbed-wire surf guitar strewn trog-pop "Are You With Me," the burlesque-y churn and shuffle of "Come On Up" in full carny barker exhortation or the farfisa power-pop pogo delight of "Ways & Means," which invokes "Private Eyes" songwriter Warren Pash's cash. Even the cacophony meets freefalling "Check It Out" suggests a meth-addled percussive-driven "Land of a 1000 Dances."
"That's the whole idea: it's the opposite of what you expect from me. But I like songs that say, 'Hey, baby, let's rock and roll..,' especially more than once. I like there's lotsa spots to yell. I like that the whole record is over in less than half an hour – and it's all fun!
"I hope my artsy fartsy friends can hear this and like it. For some people, if it's not super-serious and talking about the things they think they should worry about, then it's not art. But you know, the real art is stuff that makes you feel! 
 "You listen to this, and it's not going to matter – as long as it's tonight! And ALL night! As long as my baby's with me, and we're getting it, and..."
 Snider almost runs out of breath. He's fired up. He's ready to party. And for the man who's the post-modern troubadour state-of-the-world pulse taker, it's simple. "This is genuinely my political statement to the world: if you ask me about the election or the state of the world, I'm like Our Party is – We Party Balls! Turn It Up, Man! We're Doomed; Let's Dance!
 "Oh, and all those kick ass, wicked sweet leads? Those are my wicked sweet kick ass leads for the first time! I play about as good as a kid in high school – and that's exactly what we're looking for."
So as the sax bleats and sweats, the tempo bunches and catches, kick off your shoes and drop your center of gravity. For Snider, it's just thus. Get your "Funky Tomato" and go.
Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Roots music legends, Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, have been friends for 30 years, but only recently realized they had never played music with each other before. So in 2017, Grammy winner Alvin and Grammy nominee Gilmore, decided to hit the highway to swap songs, tell stories, and share their life experiences in an intimate acoustic environment. Though Texas born Gilmore was twice named Country Artist of the Year by Rolling Stone, and California native Alvin first came to fame in the hard rocking rhythm and blues band The Blasters, they discovered that their musical roots in old blues and folk music are exactly the same. In these spontaneous shows, audiences will not only hear classic original compositions from the two, but they also choose songs that include a wide spectrum of songwriters and styles - Everything from old jug band numbers to Merle Haggard and Sam Cooke, to the Young Bloods 60’s anthem, “Get Together”.
Kat Wright
Kat Wright
Kat Wright, whose voice is both sultry and dynamic, delicate yet powerful; gritty but highly emotive and nuanced, has been described as “a young Bonnie Raitt meets Amy Winehouse”. Add to that voice enough stage presence to tame lions, and the combination of feline femininity proves immediately enchanting. There’s soul flowing in and out of her rock ‘n’ roll with a serpentine seduction. Some of soul music’s sweet, grand dames belt, shout, seethe, and succumb, while Wright sings gently like a heartache’s apology. It’s funky in spots and beautiful all over. And it hurts a little … like it should.
Venue Information:
Culture Center Theater
West Virginia State Capitol Grounds
Charleston, WV, 25305
http://www.wvculture.org/agency/cultcenter.html