The Wood Brothers ¦ Heart Is The Hero

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The Wood Brothers are an American roots band consisting of brothers Chris (upright bass) and Oliver Wood (acoustic and electric guitars), as well as multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix. Their music is a combination of folk, gospel, blues and jazz.[1]


From early in their childhood in Boulder, Colorado, Chris and Oliver Wood were steeped in American roots music.[1] Their father, a molecular biologist, performed classic songs at camp fires and family gatherings, while their mother, a poet, instilled a passion for storytelling and turn of phrase. The brothers bonded over their shared appreciation of bluesmen such as Jimmy Reed and Lightnin' Hopkins, but their paths, musical and otherwise, diverged.

Oliver moved to Atlanta, where he played guitar in cover bands before earning a spot in Tinsley Ellis’s touring act. At Ellis’s behest, Oliver began to sing and then founded King Johnson, a hard-touring group that released six albums of blues-inflected R&B, funk and country over the next 12 years. Chris, meanwhile, studied jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music and moved to New York City. In 1992, Chris co-founded the innovative jazz fusion group Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW), which released two dozen albums over the next two decades.[1]

After pursuing separate musical careers for some 15 years, the brothers performed together at a show in North Carolina on May 24, 2001:[2] Oliver sat in with MMW following King Johnson’s opening set. "I realized we should be playing music together," Chris recalled.[3]

Oliver talks about the formation of King Johnson and the influence of Sean Costello and Donnie McCormick, drummer and lead singer of Eric Quincy Tate, in a 2022 documentary by Hal Jacobs about his favorite Atlanta music club, the Northside Tavern.

The Wood Brothers performing at 2008 Langerado Music Festival


The brothers recorded a collection of Oliver's songs to create a demo album. They landed a recording contract with Blue Note Records, who released their first studio album Ways Not To Lose in 2006. The album was produced by Chris's MMW colleague John Medeski, and recorded during September 2005 at Allaire Studios in Shokan, New York. Kenny Wolleson supported the duo on drums and percussion. Music critic Steve Leggett said that Oliver's lyrics showed him to be in a state of "perpetual spiritual dilemma" but with a "dogged hope that shines through between the cracks," the words carried on a bed of "sparse and languid" folk-blues music.[4]

Their follow-up Loaded was released in 2008. The next year they released an EP of covers titled Up Above My Head. In 2011 the band moved recording to Nashville's Southern Ground Artists for Smoke Ring Halo, the band's first release on Zac Brown's Southern Ground label. Multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix joined the band during this period, adding his percussion and jazz piano skills, and providing vocals.[5] In 2012 they released Live Volume One: Sky High and Live Volume Two: Nail & Tooth issued as two separate CDs or a double-LP vinyl gatefold package.

In October 2013, the Wood Brothers' fifth studio release, The Muse was released, with Buddy Miller serving as record producer.[1] The album was recorded at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville. The Wood Brothers were by this time a Nashville-based band, with Oliver having relocated in 2012, and Chris following. It was the first time the brothers had lived in the same city since early adulthood.[6] The Muse provided the band with their first Billboard chart success, hitting the folk, country, indie and rock charts in late 2013.[1]

The band's next album, Paradise was released in 2015 on the Easy Eye Sound label. Paradise was the first album in which all three bandmembers shared songwriting credits.[6] Paradise was their most successful album up to that point, reaching number 1 on the Top Heatseekers chart, and number 12 on the US Country music chart.

On February 2, 2018, the Wood Brothers released their sixth full-length album, One Drop of Truth, which they self-produced and recorded.[7] The album was nominated for the Best Americana Album award at the 61st Grammy Awards.

The group released their eighth studio album, "Kingdom in My Mind" in January 2020.[8]

The group released their ninth studio album, “Heart is the Hero” in April 2023.


Studio albums

TitleDetailsPeak chart positionsSales
US Country
US Heat
US Indie
US Folk
US Rock
Ways Not to Lose
  • Release date: April 1, 2008
  • Label: Blue Note Records
Up Above My Head
(8-song collection of covers)
  • Release date: June 9, 2009
  • Label: Indirecto Records
Smoke Ring Halo
  • Release date: August 2, 2011
  • Label: Southern Ground
The Muse
  • Release date: October 1, 2013
  • Label: Southern Ground
  • Release date: October 2, 2015
  • Label: Honey Jar
One Drop of Truth
  • Release date: February 2, 2018
  • Label: Honey Jar
Kingdom in My Mind
  • Release date: January 24, 2020
  • Label: Honey Jar/Thirty Tigers
Heart Is the Hero
  • Release date: April 14, 2023
  • Label: Honey Jar/Thirty Tigers
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Live albums

TitleDetailsPeak chart positions
US Country[9]
Live at Tonic EP
  • Release date: 2005
  • Label: Junketboy
Live: Volume One: Sky High
  • Release date: May 8, 2012
  • Label: Southern Ground
Live: Volume Two: Nail and Tooth
  • Release date: August 12, 2012
  • Label: Southern Ground
Live at the Barn
  • Release date: January 13, 2017
  • Label: Honey Jar
Live at The Fillmore
  • Release date: September 6, 2019
  • Recorded: March 8 & 9, 2019
  • Label: Honey Jar/Thirty Tigers
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


  1. ^ a b c d e Monger, Timothy. "The Wood Brothers". AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  2. ^ "The Wood Brothers: A Little Bit Sweet". April 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "Wood Brothers - Interview & Music". Americana Music Show. 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
  4. ^ Leggett, Steve. "The Wood Brothers – Ways Not to Lose". AllMusic. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  5. ^ Fox, Randy (January 12, 2020). "A Kingdom of Fun". East Nashvillian. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  6. ^ a b from an interview with Oliver Wood on the Americana Music Show #276, published December 8, 2015
  7. ^ Oshinsky, Matthew (November 16, 2017). "Exclusive: The Wood Brothers Announce New Album One Drop of Truth, Share First Single". Paste Magazine.
  8. ^ "The Wood Brothers Return With Groove-Driven New Song 'Alabaster'". RollingStone Magazine. 2019-10-24.
  9. ^ a b "The Wood Brothers Chart History (Top Country Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 10, 2017.[dead link]
  10. ^ "The Wood Brothers Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 13, 2018.
  11. ^ "The Wood Brothers Chart History (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 13, 2018.
  12. ^ "The Wood Brothers Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 19, 2018.
  13. ^ "The Wood Brothers Chart History (Americana/Folk Albums)". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 19, 2018.
  14. ^ "The Wood Brothers Chart History (Top Rock Albums)". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 12, 2018.
  15. ^ Bjorke, Matt (October 12, 2015). "Top 10 Country Albums Chart: October 12, 2015". Roughstock.
  16. ^ Bjorke, Matt (February 20, 2018). "Top 10 Country Album Sales Chart: February 19, 2018". Roughstock. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  17. ^ Bjorke, Matt (February 25, 2020). "Top 10 Country Albums Chart in Pure Sales: February 24, 2020". Roughstock.

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The Wood Brothers ¦ Heart Is The Hero
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