Last month, the Oliver Wood Trio, comprised of longtime bandmate and Wood brother Jano Rix, as well as good friend Ted Pecchio, absolutely lit up the new City Winery NYC Ballroom with a raging storm of blues/rock/funk/folk rock energy. In support of Always Smilin, the new album, Oliver shared new and old material to help bring back the excitement of live music in the beginning of the restriction lifting, vaccine-era portion of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He opened the show with a traditional gospel blues folk song “Now Is A Needed Time” which featured stellar fingerpicking. The energy warmed up with a rocking vibe as he segued into the Wood Brothers classic “Chocolate On my Tongue.” Next, the trio performed a soulful rendition of Oliver’s new song Soul of This Town, co-written with Phil Cook (Hiss Golden Messenger). He told the audience that the theme and inspiration for the lyrics of the song stemmed from “the joy of gentrification.”
Oliver calmed the energy down for the next song, another traditional gospel blues track “Lord I’m Climbing High Mountains.” He added his own slide guitar style too it with a unique distortion effect. To continue the mellow mood, Oliver played another sentimental Wood Brothers tune “Lovin’ Arms” which is a tribute to his late mother who battled ALS and wasn’t able to hug her children anymore. Oliver mentioned it was also appropriate to play the song given the fact that not many people were giving hugs this past year due to the pandemic. He labeled his current tour as “A Tribute To Hugs”.
Next, The energy was uplifted with a vibrant version of “Mary Anna”, another Wood Brothers classic hit. The rocking jams continued with “The Battle is Over (But the War Goes On)” a new song from Oliver’s debut solo album.
The next highlight In the set list was an old song Fine Line which was originally performed by Oliver’s band before the Wood Brothers called King Johnson. Later on in the set her delivered an electric blues rock soulful rendition of Mississippi John hurts “Pay Day” which featured Ukulele bass.
Sticking to his blues roots influences, Oliver delivered a powerful rendition of his new song “Kindness”. Then, to close the set he delivered the absolute highlight of the night “Postcards From Hell”. Whether the act is billed as The Wood Brothers or simply Oliver Wood, you don’t want to miss his show.
Scott J. Herman