Wheels of Soul Tour Coming to PPAC Friday – Interview with Oliver Wood

The Wood Brothers
Tedeschi Trucks Band Ride the Wheels of Soul Tour into Providence

A rock show is coming to Providence Friday night and this is one of those concerts where the opening bands are just as stellar as the main act. The Tedeschi-Trucks Band headline the “Wheels of Soul 2017” show that also includes the Wood Brothers and Hot Tuna.

Oliver Wood, guitarist and singer of The Wood Brothers, is excited about the tour getting underway. We spoke to him last week as the band was preparing for their first show on the tour in New Hampshire.

“We go way back with Tedeschi-Trucks, their fans are serious music fans, so it’s really comfortable for us. It’s all about the music, they’re not ‘show bizzy,’” he explained.

As mentioned, the Wood Brothers and Hot Tuna are not just “opening acts,” they are a major part of the show. “It’s a little more like a festival,” Wood noted, when asked how he prepares for the tour. “Everything’s done on a larger scale (than smaller club shows), there might be more upbeat songs, and less nuance due to the larger venues.”

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Roots Music

The Wood Brothers emerged as part of the resurgence of “roots” music in recent years. They came together in 2006, more or less a side project for brothers Oliver and Chris Wood. At the time, Oliver was leading his own band King Johnson, while Chris was part of the hip jazz collective Medeski, Martin and Wood. Since then, the Wood Brothers, with their blues/rock/roots mix, have gained a dedicated following, and are known for their spirited live shows.

“There have been several ‘resurgences,’ noted Wood. “There was the blues resurgence and the folk explosion in the late 1950’s. Sometimes it’s a reaction to what’s going on. After years of heavy rock, grunge, and pop-rock, people seemed to crave smaller scale acoustic music. For us, it started out as a back to basics thing with acoustic instruments. Ultimately, it resonates (with people) cause it’s good music.”

Levon Helm

The Wood Brothers appeared several times in “The Barn,” the celebrated performance space of legendary Band drummer and singer, Levon Helm. He was “a mentor by example,” according to Wood. “He treated people well, he was a humble, down to earth soul. We really admired that. Musically, he was just so passionate – and in the moment, every time he played. He was a gracious and graceful human being.”

The “Midnight Rambles” held at Helm’s barn are legendary in music circles, with fans and fellow musicians travelling to “The Barn,” in historic Woodstock, NY to hear him in the early 2000’s. The Wood Brothers returned there last summer to record their latest album, the soul shaking Live at the Barn. It includes The Band classic “Ophelia” among other Wood Brothers’ favorites. “It was a special show in an intimate spot,” recalled Wood.

Hot Tuna Play the Wheels of Soul Tour Friday

The other “opener” is Hot Tuna, with Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy, formerly of Jefferson Airplane. Talk about living legends! And if you’ve never seen Tedeschi Trucks, you’re in for a treat. Boston bred Susan Tedeschi and husband Derek Trucks, bred on the Allman Brothers, lead one of the strongest and most soulful live bands touring today.

Tickets for the Wheels of Soul tour are available here. Music starts promptly at 7:30 in Friday July 7. This is one you don’t want to miss. Meanwhile, check out their video “Midnight in Harlem” below.