The crowd on the beach in Seaside Heights, NJ this Saturday, August 13, 2022 evening is ready to experience the vibe of two talented contemporary musical groups, The Wood Brothers and Greensky Bluegrass.
The Wood Brothers — guitarist Oliver Wood, bassist Chris Wood, and percussionist Jano Rix — take the stage first and open tonight’s show with the deliciously funky “Alabaster.”
On this catchy number, Oliver Wood’s country-tinged voice soulfully croons, “The last phone booth in New York City/Ringin’ all day callin’ somebody home/She doesn’t answer/She walks faster/She won’t be goin’ back to Alabaster,” as the band cooks behind him.
The trio follows up with the up-tempo and folksy “Little Bit Sweet” before vocal harmonies ring out on the group’s country-funk tune, “Wastin’ My Mind.” Music lovers on the beach dance with their fingers pointing in the air while the band jams.
The crowd hoots and hollers and Oliver Wood exclaims, “Thank you very much! We’re The Wood Brothers, and we’re happy to be here on the Jersey Shore with our buddies from Greensky Bluegrass.”
Oliver plays slide guitar on the country-rocker, “Can’t Look Away,” as brother Chris bows his acoustic bass for effect.
Concertgoers dance in the sand before Chris joins them with his own fancy footwork on “Atlas.” He follows up by impressing the crowd with a walking bass solo where he slides and bends the strings of his instrument on this rockin’ country two-step.
The crowd expresses its approval and Oliver responds, “Thank you! What a beautiful day,” before introducing percussionist Jano Rix who comes forward to play the melodica.
Stand-up bass, melodica, and acoustic guitar are featured on the poignant ballad,“The Muse,” where the crowd sings along on the “Times like these so sweet and so true/Thinkin’s the last thing that you wanna do” refrain.
“Thank you for singing along! You sound like angels,” declares Oliver before Chris Wood is featured on harmonica and Jano Rix plays the “shuitar” — a vintage guitar with percussion instruments attached to it — on the folksy “Keep Me Around.” On this rhythmic number, Oliver and the crowd sing together on the memorable “You keep me around” refrain.
A highlight of The Wood Brothers’ set is their performance of the jazz and funk-inspired “Little Bit Broken.” Music lovers happily dance in the sand and respond with their voices on the ultra-catchy “Everybody is a little bit broken and it’s alright/(It’s alright)” chorus as Jano Rix sings while keeping the funky beat.
Following the slow country-rock two-step, “Stumbled In,” Oliver plays jazz guitar, Jano plays keyboard, and Chris plays bass and harmonica on “Postcards from Hell.” Oliver’s distinctive country/blues vocal cries out with feeling on this rhythmic folk song as he croons, “I know a man who sings the blues/Yeah, he plays just what he feels” before slipping into his falsetto voice on the coda to whistles, cheers and applause.
Oliver suggests “How about a Saturday night dance party?” as the trio launches into “Happiness Jones.”
With it’s funky rock beat, the music rings out under flashing colored lights that dance and glow through smoky stage lights as Chris dances footloose and fancy free across the stage to audience whistles and hoots.
Jano Rix plays keyboard with one hand and drums with the other on “Luckiest Man.” Oliver invites the crowd to sing along on the “You’re the luckiest man” refrain before exclaiming, “Jersey, sing all by yourself!” and the crowd joyfully complies while Oliver conducts them.
“That’s some good singing, New Jersey! Wow!” exclaims Oliver before the musicians conclude the evening’s set with “One More Day.”
Music lovers dance beside the sea to the tune’s irresistible slap-happy vibe. Chris dances loose before picking up his bass and harmonizing with his colleagues on the memorable “What did I tell you?/What did I say?/Just when your faith is gone/Give it one more day” chorus to audience cheers and applause.
“Thank you so much! We love you!” declares Oliver as the band exits to a standing ovation.
During intermission, we chat with several concertgoers who share their thoughts on tonight’s performance by The Wood Brothers. Declares Scott from Toms River, “I never heard The Wood Brothers before tonight, but now they’re one of my favorite bands ever — they’re f*cking awesome! Their singer, Oliver Wood, is like a preacher, and it was just amazing to see the drummer playing keyboard with one hand while playing the drums with the other!”
Kevin from Ortley concurs, exclaiming, “The Wood Brothers are absolutely incredible! The whole band was great, and the bassist was phenomenal! I can’t wait to see them again.”
Shannon from Toms River maintains, “I loved seeing such great musicianship right here in my own backyard,” before insisting, “The whole band was amazing, and I was just blown away by the bass player, Chris Wood, from his bowing of his upright bass to his dancing. To me, he danced like he was the bass!” Carla from Point Pleasant asserts, “I loved The Wood Brothers’ song lyrics — I could understand every word they sang — plus, I can’t believe all of that music came out of just three musicians; each one is a master!”
Lastly, we chat with The Wood Brothers’ lead singer and guitarist, Oliver Wood, who shares his thoughts on tonight’s audience when he reveals, “Whenever you play a beach town, you wonder if you’re going to get a crowd that knows your music, but it was a pleasant surprise to hear this crowd tonight — they knew the songs, they were singing along, and we really enjoyed playing for them.”
As the sun sets in the west, the musicians of Greensky Bluegrass — Dave Bruzza on guitar, Paul Hoffman on mandolin, Michael Bont on banjo, Mike Devol on bass, and Anders Beck on dobro — take the stage as mandolinist Paul Hoffman looks out over the beach crowd and exclaims, “Yeah, boardwalk life! What a day!”
Opening with “New and Improved,” Dave Bruzza accompanies himself on acoustic guitar as he cries, “New and improved! State of the art! Got that new sh*t baby/Top of the line!”
The band jams under blue and purple lights which add to the vibe of their upbeat acoustic performance. Micheal Bont picks the strings of his banjo on this snappy bluegrass tune before the tempo ratchets up and lights dance to the music.
Colors morph and intensify as the music changes on “Just to Lie.” Anders Beck is featured on dobro while rays of light illuminate the stage and each of the Greensky instrumentalists takes a turn at soloing. The crowd willfully vibes to the groove before the group segues into “Hold On” where bassist Mike Devol and the other instrumentalists solo and the acoustic ensemble becomes a speeding train of string playing.
Following the up-tempo bluegrass number, “Burn Them,” the crowd whistles and cheers and Anders Beck declares, “It’s fun to play on the beach,” to which Paul Hoffman adds, “And let’s give it up for The Wood Brothers!”
Paul Hoffman accompanies himself on mandolin on “While Waiting” as he cries, “And I’m feeling so much closer/To everywhere I’ve been/The further I become from where I begin,” on this country blues song which transforms itself into a psychedelic jam.
Chinese lanterns dance on the ocean breeze while the music onstage picks up speed and fingers fly on “Kerosene.” Colored lights fade in and out over the talented group of musicians as they trade licks, the timbre and harmonics of their natural stringed instruments blending together, creating melodies and harmonies that intertwine into an intricate gumbo.
Following hoots and hollers, The Wood Brothers’ Oliver Wood returns to the stage to sing with mandolinist Paul Hoffman on a soulful cover version of “Midnight Rider.”
After the pair’s voices harmonize on the well-known “But I’m not gonna let ’em catch me, no/Not gonna let ’em catch the midnight rider” refrain, Oliver Wood claps along to the music while the strings jam on this classic song by The Allman Brothers Band.
Dave Bruzza handles the lead on “Steam Powered Aereoplane” where arches of light move in black and white while he sings this wistful bluegrass tune. The group follows up with the rhythmic “Miss September” which features Hoffman’s mandolin and Beck’s dobro.
The rhythmic groove of “Fixin’ to Ruin” sets music lovers’ heads to bopping and Hoffman and bassist Mike Devol sing together in harmony as the moon glows orange on the horizon just above the rolling waves.
“That’s one hell of a beautiful moonrise!” exclaims Anders Beck before he and the band launch into “I’d Probably Kill You.” On this rhythmic arrangement, concertgoers on the beach are treated to a pickin’ guitar solo, a dobro solo, an offbeat funky bass solo with percussive accents, and an impressive Paul Hoffman mandolin solo.
The crowd hoots and hollers and Beck tells the audience about how much he enjoyed spending the day in Seaside Heights swimming and going on the rides before the musicians wrap up their set with the catchy “Reasons to Stay” and the homespun bluegrass tune, “Leap Year.”
The crowd cheers, and for an encore, Greensky Bluegrass presents a tribute to Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen with an uptempo bluegrass rendering of “Dancing in the Dark” and a heartfelt acoustic interpretation of “Atlantic City.”
As concertgoers make their way off the beach and onto the boardwalk, we chat with several music lovers in the crowd who share their thoughts on Greensky Bluegrass’ performance tonight.
Remarks Jack from Napanoch, NY, “I’m a big fan of Greensky Bluegrass. I’ve seen them at least six times, and they are all such good musicians,” before acknowledging, “I will travel for good music. I traveled three hours to see this show and it was absolutely worth the trip!”
Anthony from Baltimore, MD asserts, “Greensky Bluegrass is a great band!” explaining, “I used to follow the Yonder Mountain String Band, but now, Greensky is my favorite — I’ve seen them over 50 times. I love their metal grass jams, I like the dobro slide guitar, and I especially enjoy the songs that Paul Hoffman sings,” prior to suggesting, “They should have bands like this perform here on the beach every night.”
Danny from Caldwell agrees, explaining, “I love the shows here at the beach, and this one was awesome, especially with the moonrise tonight,” before noting, “Greensky Bluegrass is a great Southern folky jam band with a psychedelic funk vibe, and hearing them play beside the ocean was a very cool experience!”
Marissa from Caldwell concurs, acknowledging, “We love to come to the beach to hear music! I saw fathers and sons dancing together to Greensky Bluegrass’ music, so I really love how this concert was able to help the generations come together.”
Declares Brenton from Kalamazoo, MI, “I love Greensky Bluegrass! I’m from Michigan and they’re from Michigan, and I’d never seen them play live before tonight,” prior to exclaiming, “Kalamazoo and New Jersey together!” Melissa from Montclair, NJ, acknowledges, “I’m so happy to be here at the beach tonight!” before concluding, “This has been one great night of music — oh, my God, what a night!”
To learn more about The Wood Brothers, please go to thewoodbros.com. For more information on Greensky Bluegrass, click on greenskybluegrass.com. For info on upcoming concerts and events in Seaside Heights, NJ go to exit82.com.
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