The Wood Brothers

Doc Roc Presents

The Wood Brothers

Sean McConnell

Tue Dec 05

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Cain's Ballroom

Tulsa, OK

$20.00 - $35.00

This event is all ages


Advance $20
Day of Show $23
Door $23
Mezzanine (21+) $35

There is a $2 fee that applies to each ticket purchased at the Cain's Box Office.

No re-entry! No smoking! No refunds!

Support acts are subject to change without notice!

The Wood Brothers
The Wood Brothers
“It’s the freest album we’ve done, the most independent album we’ve done, and was the most fun we’ve ever had making a record,” says Oliver Wood. “And most importantly, this is the most purely Wood Brothers’ album we’ve ever made.”

Indeed, The Wood Brothers’ sixth outing, ‘One Drop of Truth,’ dives headfirst into a deep wellspring of sounds, styles and influences. Whereas their previous outings have often followed a conceptual and sonic through-line, here the long-standing trio featuring brothers Oliver and Chris Wood along with Jano Rix treat each song as if it were its own short film. The plaintive, country-folk of the album’s opening track “River Takes The Town” gives way to the The Band-esque Americana soul of “Happiness Jones.” The wistful ballad “Strange As It Seems” floats on a cloud of stream of consciousness, standing in stark contrast to “Sky High”—a Saturday night barnburner built upon stinging slide guitar funk. “Seasick Emotions” is rife with turmoil, yet “Sparking Wine” is jaunty and carefree. The end result is undeniably The Wood Brothers’ most dynamic recording to date.

“Often, when you’re making an album in the traditional way, there will be a unifying concept, whether that be in the approach to the music stylistically or lyrically in terms over the overall narrative. And even though there are some themes that revealed themselves later, this one is all over the place,” explains Oliver Wood. “What I really love about this record is that each one of these songs has its own little world. There are diver-se sounds and vibes from one track to the next.”

Building off the success of their previous studio album, 2015’s ‘Paradise,’ which was dubbed “the warmest, most sublime and occasionally rowdiest Wood Brothers release yet,” by American Songwriter, the band found themselves at a fortuitous crossroads. Following a tour with Tedeschi Trucks Ba¬¬¬¬¬nd, high profile festival dates and sold out headline shows, the band felt free from the cyclical album release, tour, write, record and do-it-all-over-again pressures of the traditional music business. With all three members living in Nashville affording easy access to each other and a wealth of local independent studios at their disposal, they started work in January of 2017 with a new approach.

“Instead of going into one studio and recording it all at the same time, we picked a couple studios, and started to experiment,” says Chris Wood. “Sometimes we’d just make demos of songs to see if we got anything we liked. There was no pressure, and that really freed us up. We just did one or two songs a day, put it aside, let the songs simmer, and then we’d have a fresh perspective on what was working or not working. You need time to go by to gain objectivity.”

The band extended this approach to the mixing process, sending tracks to four different mixing engineers, each selected based on what the song demanded. Scotty Hard (who’s worked extensively with Medeski Martin & Wood, among others) was recruited for the “edgier, funkier tunes,” “Sky High” and “Happiness Jones.” Mike Poole (who worked on The Wood Brothers album ‘The Muse’) mixed “Sparkling Wine” and “Strange As It Seems.” Their old friend Brandon Belle from Zac Brown’s studio Southern Ground took on “Laughin’ Or Crying.” The remainder of the album was mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Trina Shoemaker, especially sought after by The Wood Brothers for her work with Brandi Carlile.

While the songs on ‘One Drop of Truth’ achieve the goal of standing on their own, a few common themes did, inevitably, emerge. Water—whether in a teardrop, a storm, a river or a libation—was being used as a metaphor in the search for truth and happiness. Chris Wood’s “Seasick Emotion,” one of two songs he sings on the collection serves as a prime example: “All the blue sky is gone / How can I get out of bed / This hurricane in my head / I’m just a boat in a storm / How can I know where to go / When everything that I know / Is already lost in the wind.”

“That one was written last fall during a hurricane, while at the same time the election was coming up, and there was all this crazy energy in the world,” Chris reveals. “I definitely got swept away emotionally by everything that was going on.”

Album opener, “River Takes the Town,” takes on both figurative and literal meaning. It was completed just as a series of hurricanes were decimating parts of the U.S.: “It's been a few days since I heard any word from you / and I don't sleep easy, I don't sleep easy / and the rain keeps comin’, the rain keeps comin’ / nothin's ever for certain / 'til the levee breaks down / the water comes in and the river / the river takes the town.”

“I remember hearing a news story about a flood in Shreveport, and I wrote the line ‘I hope the levee in Shreveport does what it's supposed to do,’” explains Oliver. “I was writing literally, at first, about how scary it must be when people lose power and communication with those they love. But then the lyrics became a metaphor for something more interpersonal. And by the end of this summer, it seemed to take on new meaning yet again.”

Though emotional struggle is a recurring thread, so is the comforting truth of how much wisdom comes from the hard times. The song “Happiness Jones”, was based on a news article Oliver read about how our society is addicted to happiness, antidepressants, and the distorted “happy” reality social media can depict. As a result, people feel like it’s unnatural to be sad, yet. sadness can be a gift: “All of my wisdom came from all the toughest days / I never learned a thing bein’ happy / all of my sufferin’ came / I didn’t appreciate it / I never learned a thing being happy.”

While the majority of ‘One Drop of Truth’ was written and recorded as a group, the standout track “Strange As It Seems,” described by Chris as, “a classic Oliver song,” was an exception.

“I had recorded it a couple months before Chris and Jano added their parts, so I was excited to see what they would do with it. We talked a lot about it having a dreamlike quality to it. Chris has all these cool sound effects that he can make with the bowed bass, and then Jano played the melodica and the piano on it, and they added exactly the atmosphere that it needed,” explains Oliver. “Conceptually, I almost think of it like a Tim Burton movie, where you go to sleep, and you go into this dream world, to meet your lover, but you do so with purpose. You bring your wallet, you get dressed up, you’re going on a date. The idea being, that you rendezvous in the dream. One of my favorite things about any song is ambiguity, leaving it open to interpretation. Maybe the man and woman in this song are already married, and they’re on separate sides of the bed, and they’re disconnected, so they’re hoping to find a better version of a partner in their dreams. Or, maybe they are two lonely people, in separate places, finding each other in this dreamworld. But at the end of the song, the guy wakes up, and he goes down to the kitchen, and he’s with his wife and it’s a beautiful thing, and they dance in the light. So perhaps there’s also an element of hope, whether they’re lonely, or they’re disconnected, there’s still a connection there, sometimes you have to go to that other level to realize it.”

Fittingly titled, ‘One Drop of Truth,’ the latest entry in The Wood Brothers evolution finds three musicians being true to themselves. At a point in their career where most artists would be looking to strategically position themselves for even greater commercial success, they instead turned to artistic expression in service of the muse. In chaotic times when honesty is in short supply and ulterior motives seem to always be at play, The Wood Brothers put faith in themselves and ultimately their audience by writing and recording a collection of songs that is honest and pure. As they sing on the album’s title track: “Rather die hungry / than feasting on lies / Give me one drop of truth / I cannot deny.”
Sean McConnell
Sean McConnell
In today’s louder-is-mightier world, it takes guts to be quiet. But when the right artist summons the courage, strips down, and finds the right songs, one voice and one guitar can make an all-consuming roar.

“I’ve just always been a sucker for acoustic records,” Sean McConnell says. “The bare bones, the stories, the chair squeaking, the fingers gliding across strings. Hearing the sound of the room it was recorded in. A lot of the music I grew up listening to was like that, and I’m drawn to it. It’s like home base.”

With his anticipated new album Undone, McConnell makes a triumphant return to home base. The 11-song acoustic collection captures the singer-songwriter’s two most arresting skills: room-shushing story songs and gut-punching vocals. The project is an inspired re-recording of last summer’s Sean McConnell, with the addition of a new duet, “Nothing on You,” written with and featuring the peerless Lori McKenna.

Last year’s eponymous album garnered serious praise from Rolling Stone, No Depression, Lone Star Music Magazine, and more, and when asked why it deserved an acoustic revisit, McConnell doesn’t hesitate. “The main reason is I’ve just always known I wanted to have an acoustic version of these songs ready for people to hear,” he says. “It’s the kind of collection that really calls for it. I could hear it in my head the whole time, that this record had a second life in a different soundscape.”

Listening to McConnell’s rich tenor deliver his conversational explorations of roots, discovery, longing, and loss, it’s hard to imagine a performer or songs more capable of standing on their own.

McConnell is young, but he isn’t green. Since releasing his first album at 15, he has toured relentlessly, playing everywhere from Harvard Square coffeehouses to Texas hole in the walls. A loyal fanbase thousands deep has long-since discovered the devoted road dog whose voice quiets boisterous bar rooms easily, and with soulful dignity.

Music has been part of McConnell's life for as long as he can remember. "My mom was a singer and my dad was a guitar player and songwriter," he says. "They'd play in coffeehouses and I'd go along and watch them perform, and seeing that lifestyle showed me that music was an option. Seeing my dad painstakingly writing songs had a huge influence on me, and gave me license to feel like I could enter that world.”

By the age of 10, McConnell had become proficient on guitar and was writing his first songs. "I fell in love with the instrument first," he recalls. "Learning guitar gave me a feeling of uncharted territory laid out in front of me.” When McConnell was about 11, the family moved from Massachusetts to Georgia, where he stayed until heading to Middle Tennessee State University just outside of Nashville for college. Nashville proved a good fit, as an impressive mix of mainstream heavyweights, pop stars, and Americana stalwarts began cutting McConnell songs: Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Meat Loaf, David Nail, Brothers Osborne, and Buddy Miller are a mere skimming of that ever-growing list.

His supportive family background helped to instill the confidence and drive to pursue his muse early on. “I started playing in middle school, doing any gig I could get just to get my chops up,” he says. “By high school, I would be doing local gigs and really promoting them, bringing out a couple hundred kids to my shows a few times a month and starting to make a decent living at it. That made me think that maybe I could do this in other towns. So I started traveling around the southeast a little bit, and there was always enough progress to take things to the next level. While I was in college, I did a lot of college touring, just me driving all over the United States in a Toyota Corolla. It was hard work, but it showed me that I could do it.”

McConnell continued to record as well, self-releasing nine projects before last summer’s self-titled album, which was his first collaboration with a label, Rounder. Undone continues his partnership with the roots music haven.

"It's a real storyteller record, and it's pretty autobiographical,” McConnell says. “I'm learning how to be more honest and understated in my writing, and I wanted to match that sonically and vocally. When I look at this collection of songs, I see a lot of nostalgia, and looking back on sacred moments. I'm kind of nostalgic and reflective by nature.”

Lonely piano kicks off the record on “Holy Days,” as McConnell explores that distinct blend of captivity and freedom that defines youth. He highlights the track as a favorite, noting that it’s the most different from the original version. “We were rolling tape as I sat down for the first time to learn it on the piano,” McConnell says. “When I was done, I popped out into the control room to take some notes and then give it another go, but when I heard it playing back through the speakers I fell in love with what we captured. It has a sort of charming clumsiness for me. I can hear myself stumbling on all these odd little accidental notes because I didn’t know what I was doing, and it resulted in a performance I couldn’t recreate.”

McConnell treads similar ground on “Ghost Town” as he haunts streets, parking lots, and names left behind to grow up. Stunner “Queen of St. Mary’s Choir” traces McConnell’s personal history to gritty, poetic perfection, proving it’s often a writer’s most obviously autobiographical work that resonates most deeply with audiences. One of many showcases for McConnell’s breathtaking vocals, “Babylon” features accompanying keys and bemoans the confusion that unfolds when things fall apart with heartbreaking clarity.

"I'm really attracted to songwriters who just put it out there honestly, and I feel like I'm getting back to basics and expressing things in a simple, direct way on this album," he says. "I'm just trying to learn how to be a more honest storyteller, trying to get my mind in a place where I'm not actually thinking and the music's just kind of happening naturally.”

Sweet “Hey Mary” is a guitar-driven charmer, while “One Acre of Land” is a moving offer to build real love that lasts. Performed and written with McKenna, the sparse and gorgeous “Nothing on You” captures the eclipsing power of love. “We laughed as much as we sang,” McConnell says of recording the track with McKenna. “It just took a few passes, and that was it. It’s a memory I’ll always cherish, and it’s a real thrill to have it be a part of this collection.”

Writing better songs than ever before and singing them like no one else can, McConnell is now in a place that can’t help but feel like fate. "From a very young age, I just knew that I was gonna spend my life making music," he says. "I never really questioned it, so I just forged ahead and didn't let anything stop me.”
Venue Information:
Cain's Ballroom
423 N Main St.
Tulsa, OK, 74103
http://www.cainsballroom.com