F riday’s show at eTown Hall will be something like a homecoming for The Wood Brothers and Gretchen Peters.
Though Peters and The Wood Brothers were not born in Boulder and don’t live here now, they spent significant chunks of their childhoods here. Oliver and Chris Wood left town after high school, so rather than absorbing local music at the bars, they got it through their father.
“Our dad is a musician and he was a big influence on us. He played guitar around the house and sang,” Oliver Wood said. “He used to go take us to see Hot Rize … It was awesome.”
When they left home, Chris headed for the Northeast and Oliver went to the Southeast. Pursuing separate music careers for about 15 years in those different regions — Chris with Medeski Martin & Wood, and Oliver with his band King Johnson — they developed different musical styles.
“My brother is still up in Catskills in upstate New York, and I’ve lived in Atlanta for last 25 years, but I just moved to Nashville,” Oliver said. “The music scenes are both great and they’re quite different. Where I’ve been influenced by a lot of southern music from New Orleans, soul music to country and all that, that’s my background. Chris started up in the Northeast and he was on the jazz tip of things. That was sort of his angle for a while.”
When they finally came together as The Wood Brothers, all of that would be noticeable in the music. With Oliver on guitar and Chris on bass and harmonica, and both singing, they blend blues, soul, jazz and folk. It’s the sort of music that makes you feel at home, even if that music wasn’t in your home.
But it goes beyond genre, of course, because the music is coming from a sense of family.
“Over the years we’ve come full circle to play together and come back to our roots, which really included what our dad was doing back around the campfire,” Oliver said.
Fifteen years into their separate careers, Oliver sat in with Medeski Martin & Wood, and both brothers realized they should be playing together.
“Chris and I had a really great time. It was just immediate chemistry between us and this immediate connection,” Oliver said. “I think we’re kind of grateful that we get to have this family enterprise and we’re both doing what we love to do and that happens to be the same thing. For whatever reason, we just had to go our own way first and really find ourselves.”
Since then, The Wood Brothers have released three full-length albums, and the first volume of their live record, Live, Volume 1: Sky High, was released in May 2012. The second volume, Nail and Tooth, is due out next week, on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, they’re very busy actually playing live. On Monday, they appeared on Jimmy Kimmel live — an new experience for the brothers that Oliver called “very surreal” and “show bizzy.” After they play eTown Hall , they’ll be on the road through early November.
As for the eTown show, the brothers are looking forward to hearing and meeting fellow one-time Boulderite Gretchen Peters, and seeing their dad, who still lives here.
The homey Boulder show will be at eTown’s newly constructed eTown Hall at 1535 Spruce St. The show is serving as one of the venue’s “soft openings” in advance of official grand opening.