The Wood Brothers

As I hold my little boy’s hand

feel him growing’ up so fast

and my father holds on to mine

feel him shaken’ hands with time

It’s a little bit sweet

It’s a little bit bitter

“Little Bit Sweet,” The Wood Brothers

[ Article by Andy Blackman Hurwitz ]

[ Photography by Jen Strogatz ]

A little bit sweet and a little bit bitter perfectly describes the surreal experience that was the Wood Brothers live at the Fillmore in Fishtown. Brothers Oliver and Chris Wood, have been playing together all of their lives and it was a little bit sweet to see this roots-rock-country powerhouse pack Philly’s finest room.   But sometimes the magnetic verse and acoustic gemstones produced on stage are best suited for a more intimate venue leaving some hard core fans a little bit bitter that their best kept secret is no longer their own.  

Anytime these brothers together with now permanent third member Jano Rix bring their songs to life pure magic and true beauty ensues. Most that bear witness leave with their hearts & souls transformed. 

The magic is in the music which goes right to the heart.  The three creators together seem much larger than the sum of their parts. Pound for pound Chris Wood is easily the most versatile bass player alive today – i challenge anyone to find an instrumentalist that can jump from electric to acoustic with such skill, ease and alacrity. Jano plays both drums and keyboards (at the same time!) and seems like he has 7 brains all firing simultaneously at lightning speed.  And then there’s  Oliver who might be the most underrated slide guitarist on the scene today – able to shred like Duanne Allman or switch to acoustic  and pick like Chet Atkins.  

But the true beauty of any Brothers song resides in the poetry that takes over the soul.  Though emotional struggle is a repeated thread, so too is the warm solace of how much wisdom comes from hard times.   There’s also a certain simplicity to their almost Buddha like way of celebrating the simple joys of life.   Credit their mother, a poet, who instilled a passion for storytelling and turn of phrase coupled with  the unrivaled bond of a shared childhood and emotional journey for creating a powerful pen to match their battle born musical swords. 

What follows is Saturday nights’s complete set list paired with a lyrical nugget from each song.

Alabaster – 

 The last phone booth in New York City

Ringing all day, calling somebody home

She doesn’t answer, she walks faster

She won’t be going back to Alabaster”.

American Heartache

Wanna make peace but I don’t have the skills

When I feel pain I reach for the pill

I wish I had a body of steel but I’m over the hill

Stuck in a dream, It’s only American heartache 

Nothing is wrong, nothing’s at stake,

I only feel bad when I can’t have it all

Sky High 

There’s something ’bout the tears

Coming down from your eyes

There’s something ’bout the lows

Takes the highs to the sky

Little Bit Sweet

I look my lover straight in the eye

stops the clock she looks in mine

precious moment i’m holding’ on

then she blinks

the moments gone

and it’s a little bit sweet….it’s a little bit bitter

Shoofly Pie

I’m gonna give you the wheel; I’m gonna let you drive

But you gotta make me; shoofly pie

Don’t forget the sweet molasses; I won’t leave a crumb

Don’t you just sit there laughing; When you know how bad I need some

You know how bad; I need some of that

Shoofly pie”

Don’t Think About  My Death

I will get by staring’ at the moon

i will get high all alone in my room

i will survive these stories in my head

when i’m loving you i don’t think about my death. 

Luckiest Man

I done talked to the devil when he calls my name

But sometimes when I’m losing it all seems the same

And when I fall I’m back up again

Just to slip on the same mistakes and slide right back in

But people say I’m the luckiest man

Yeah they say, Running is useless and fighting is foolish

You’re not gonna win but still you’re the luckiest man. 

Mary Anna

Of the two of us I know I’ve been the fool right from the start

Every other day I fumbled for the light switch to your heart

But lately I’ve been thinkin’ You’re gettin’ mighty cold

And if it ain’t the switch, honey, well it just might be the bulb

Oh won’t you cut all the lights Mary Anna

Little Bit Broken

The more i live the more i know

I should wear my scars like medals of gold

Every beat up heart’s got more soul 

and everybody’s a little broken 

and it’s alright

Postcards from Hell

I’ve seen him playin’ some old cheap guitar

But he could play on pots and pans

You never heard a soul so pure and true

It’s flowin’ right out of his hands

He can sing sweet as a choir girl

Or he can sing a house on fire

I’ve seen him callin’ up the angels

And use a breeze for a telephone wire

And if you ask him

How he sings his blues so well

He says

I got a soul that I won’t sell

I got a soul that I won’t sell

I got a soul that I won’t sell

And I don’t read postcards from hell

One Drop of Truth

Rather run for my life

Than be stuck in a hole

Staring at the sky

Another lonely soul

Rather die thirsty

Than drowned in tears

Crying and drinking

My heart full of fear

Rather die hungry

Than feasting on lies

Give me one drop of truth

I cannot deny

Who the Devil

Do you gotta be lost to be found

Who the devil spins the world around

Before you know the sun’s up it goes down

Do you gotta be lost to be found

Who the devil spins the world around

Well it is what it is and it isn’t what it ain’t

Doesn’t matter what it was cause you know it’s gonna keep on moving

Loaded

You shied away but I hunted you down

The truth is a bully and it’ll slap you around

I know it can be

A pretty rough ride

When my true heart’s kickin’ my side

Liza Jane (traditional cover)

I Got Loaded (cover of the 1951 song by Peppermint Harris . It was also the title of his 2004 album, which was a re-release of prior recordings. This song has been re-recorded a number of times, most notably by Los Lobos, Robert Cray

Lovin’ Arms

Well, it’s a sad face you wear

Like a burned out sun

‘Cause you miss those lovin’ arms

Think a grown man will care

About his boot lace undone

But you just miss those lovin’ arms

Yeah, you miss those lovin’ arms

And you got a good mind to pray

They say somebody playing but what if he’s got slippery hands

Happiness Jones / Express Yourself

All of my answers came drivin’ myself insane

Yeah I had a dragon to tame to get happy

All of my peace and quiet came from puttin’ out fire

Yeah I kept a spark alive to get happy

That old dragon, when he comes back mad

I got a Happiness Jones so bad

I got a Happiness Jones

Oh whoa

Snake Eyes

 Don’t mind livin’ on grits

But i’m tired of eatin’ crow and i need a hit

Of something to wash it down, lord turn it around

I keep dreaming of those snake eyes

ENCORE 

Chevrolet (traditional)

Honey Jar

Standing on the back of that train with your open arms

Looking at the big sky listening to the smoke alarm

If you’re wondering what happened well your heart must have jumped the track

You put your lips out in the wind and you hope you get some kissing back

Every night you get the same old dream

There’s a spoon full of honey where your heart should be

And there’s honey dripping off of your spoon

Honey dripping off of your spoon

Honey dripping off of your spoon

Honey dripping off of your spoon

As Oliver Wood shared with us “This is the biggest crowd we’ve ever played for in Philly and we’re so happy because  $1 from every ticket sold will go towards helping women survivors recover and heal from trafficking, prostitution, and addiction.”   

Thistle Farms is a nonprofit social enterprise based in Nashville, TN, providing a safe place to live, a meaningful job, and a lifelong sisterhood of support. For more info, visit https://thistlefarms.org/pages/our-mission

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