Rochester is a strong music city, based mostly on its flourishing local scene. Touring acts aren’t as kind to this city between cities. But every once in a while a band comes through, latches on, and rides the tide to local hero-dom.
The Wood Brothers are such a band. First opening for the poster-child of Rochester hero bands, Tedeschi Trucks Band. Then breaking through as a club pass band at the Rochester International Jazz Fest. They quickly returned as a main stage headliner, and headlined at the Lilac Festival soon after that. Wednesday night they were back at the Kodak Center for a rare wintertime visit. Tedeschi Trucks, Jazz Fest, Lilac Fest, Kodak… hitting all the Rochester sweet spots, it’s no wonder they’ve found a place in the city’s hearts.
On top of that, they welcomed Rochester-native, Kat Wright, to open their whole tour. Excited to be back in her hometown, she recalled Rochester memories, got shout outs from friends, family and fans in the crowd, and dedicated a song to a friend celebrating her birthday. Her usual eight-strong Indomitable Soul Band was stripped down to her, Bob Wagner on guitar and Josh Weinstein on bass. They rearranged some older tunes for the occasion, threw in a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Me Like a Man,” and introduced a few new ones, like the sultry slow burning “Let Me In” and the bluegrass-infused reggae of “Can’t Explain.”
The Wood Brothers had some new songs in their arsenal as well, coming with a stellar new album in tow. They opened with the first track, “Alabaster,” with “Little Bit Sweet” and the West-African inflected “Don’t Think About My Death” not too far behind. Though for the most part they stuck to the tried and true classics, digging through their songbook generously, presenting the full spectrum of their wares.
The seated crowd was soon on its feet, filling the aisles, dancing and singing along. The best dance moves as always though, belonged to bassist Chris Wood. His fancy footwork only outmatched by his fancy fretwork, both on display during a rumbling bass and drums segment during “Who the Devil.”
Midway through their set, during the old-school format portion of the evening with Jano Rix out front on his ‘shitar,’ the band injected the excellent Rochester local scene into their set. They invited Aaron Lipp on banjo and Wright on vocals for a rollicking rendition of the Wood Brothers oldie “One More Day.” The set peaked at the penultimate “Happiness Jones” with its funky grooving soul on full display.
Oliver Wood made sure to seal the deal on the mutual feelings between band and crowd before calling it a night, “We love Rochester!” One thing seems certain, it won’t be long before the two meet again.
Setlist: Alabaster, American Heartache, Atlas, Little Bit Sweet, Shoofly Pie, Don’t Think About My Death, Luckiest Man, Mary Anna, Little Bit Broken, Postcards from Hell, Pray Enough, Who the Devil, Loaded, One More Day*, I Got Loaded, Happiness Jones, Snake Eyes.
Encore: Chevrolet (Ed & Lonnie Young).
* with Aaron Lipp on Banjo and Kat Wright on vocals.