Interview: Snake Anthony and the Wood Brothers Shed Across New York State

The Wood Brothers started 2022 in the Empire State with dates in Rochester’s Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater, Albany’s Palace Theater and Plattsburgh’s Strand Center for the Arts. It marks the Wood Brothers first time at Kodak since Feb 2020, and bassist Chris Wood took some time after the gig for a quick chat with NYS Music.

chris wood

Matthew Romano: Good to have the Wood Brothers back at Kodak Theater for the first time since Feb 2020. Eastman School of Music Steve Gadd’s quote comes to mind from your performance. “When you get it musically to a level where everyone on the bandstand is having fun and can hear each other and you can trust the audience is hearing it the way you are it gets to a spiritual level. In Japan or wherever you are. That’s the goal.” How did last night’s energy feel at Kodak?

Chris Wood: Yea last night was the first show we had since the holiday break. Combination of excitement to be back and playing with band mates and touring with our crew we love. But also the feeling of being a little bit rusty. Got to get my sound right. Ya know?

MR: Well the vibe you guys gave off on the bandstand looked like a lot of fun. The dynamics alone. You jumping from the Hofner to the stand up. Jano jumping from the kit to shitar. Handheld keyboards. Oliver switched acoustic and electric with rip snorting slide guitar. 

CW: We want sonic variety. As well as musical variety and of course dynamics.  Some songs are like a rock band and then some stripped down. For us that’s what makes the show interesting. It’s not just one thing all night. There’s a real shape to the set. Different moments that have a completely different vibe.  The tone pallet ya know?

chris wood

MR: Well your going back to The Palace Theater in Albany where MMW in December 2000 had Trey Anastasio come sit in for an improvisational Partido Alto. Then a “We are rolling” second set jam. Any memories of that pallet?

CW:  Trey has sat in with us a bunch. I didn’t realize that it was in Albany too. Before we knew Phish was when we were in our downtown New York City music scene. We had no concept of the jam band scene. We lived in a different musical universe. Phish started playing us during their set breaks and then their fans showed up almost overnight in our crowd . But as far as musical memories that go back to 2000…I had no idea that tape was out there (laughter)

MR: MMW’s “Your Name is Snake Anthony” has helped coin the term for the Capital Region for cats on the road, “Shedding up and down the Hudson River” 

CW: Well you can thank Col. Bruce Hampton for that. 

MR: That was the Colonel?

CW:  That’s Bruce. Yea we just sent that track to him and we’re like do something over this and he just improvised that over it. Right. Like “we lived in a shed.” That’s all Bruce.

MR: Seeing “Atlas” get played differently again last night keeps that song with a fun on the road vibe, stopping on a dime. What’s behind the scenes on “Atlas” that keeps it fresh?

CW: It was on our first wood bros record. It was a song that existed before the wood bros in Oliver’s band King Johnson. He wrote it for them in the 90s. The live arrangement is always morphing. It’s gotten really fast and sometimes it’s stripped down with the Rix on shitar and then electric loud and rocking. That’s what’s fun. A song like that can arrange it in completely different ways. Real, versatile and playful. 

MR: Hopefully “Snake Anthony” will help you realize that you’re the best on the road in 2022.

Photo Gallery by Brian Ferguson: The Wood Brothers, Richie Stearns and Aaron Lipp from Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Tuesday, January 25, 2022.

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