Basic Folk Podcast: Oliver Wood

Growing up, Oliver Wood thought he’d try the bass guitar, but after 6 months, he handed it to his younger brother Chris. That’s right, *the* Chris Wood, virtuosic bassist of acclaimed Medeski Martin and Wood. Even at a young age, the brothers’ styles were pretty clear. While Chris was getting intense about the bass, Oliver was meandering on the guitar and forging his own musical path. He ended up in Atlanta and eventually got a spot in Tinsley Ellis’ band, a very well respected blues player. Oliver was playing guitar and singing background vocals, but soon enough he was shifting to the spotlight. It turns out that Tinsley was a really important mentor for Oliver: he taught him the ins and outs of the business and encouraged him to sing. After touring hard for 15 years, Oliver and his brother met up again at a fateful shared 2004 bill. He sat in with MM&W and the brothers immediately felt that familial connection through their performance. They decided to keep up playing together and formed The Wood Brothers.

Coming together in the band, Chris and Oliver discovered that the music of their folk-singing father, Bill Wood, was acting as a huge inspiration. Bill spent time on the folk circuit surrounding Cambridge, MA in the 1950s, performing with legends like Joan Baez. He would settle down with a career as a biology teacher, but kept the spirit of folk music alive for his boys. Oliver talks about how forming a band around that sound made him appreciate his father in new ways. Seven albums later and The Wood Brothers are one of the most beloved bands in the Americana community. Oliver, who is motivated by connection and community, spent 2019 co-writing with various touring musicians making their way through Nashville. While this project was just for fun, he found the results inspiring enough to make a solo album during the 2020 pandemic, resulting in his debut album, Always Smilin’. Oliver talks about choosing joy, connection and feeling grounded through meditation, which has helped him immensely through the last 14 months.

Thank you, Oliver!



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