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The Wood Brothers bring a family feel to bluesy KNKX studio session

The Wood Brothers recently visited the Pacific Northwest, performing shows to promote the release of their latest album, Heart is the Hero. They stopped by KNKX's Studio X for an exclusive trio performance with All Blues host John Kessler.

The Wood Brothers are Oliver Wood on guitar, Chris Wood on bass, and honorary brother multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix. They are not easily categorized and draw on many influences including folk, gospel, blues and jazz. As The Wood Brothers, they have made nine studio albums since 2006 and five live albums.

While living in Atlanta, Oliver played with well-known bluesman Tinsley Ellis, before forming the popular roots-rock band King Johnson.

Chris, the younger brother, studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. Later, he started the world-renowned jazz-fusion band Medeski, Martin and Wood.

Rix is a studio drummer and pianist who joined The Wood Brothers around 2011. He plays a variety of instruments, sometimes simultaneously.

The brothers talked about growing up in a house full of music and poetry. Their father was a musician who played with Joan Baez during the folk music revival of the 1960s, and their mother was a writer and poet.

They played music together as teens but did not start a “brother band” at the time, something they both are thankful for. In retrospect, they are both glad that they waited until they had experience with their separate careers, before joining forces.

At one point, Oliver’s band King Johnson was booked to open for Chris’ band Medeski, Martin and Wood. This was the first and only time that happened.

Chris said that when Oliver jumped on stage to sit in with them, they became aware of the brothers’ “instant chemistry.” That led to their first project together as The Wood Brothers in 2006 and is now the primary focus for both of them.

On their latest release, Heart is the Hero, they decided to forego the common practice of recording digitally and instead used 16-track analog tape. Digital recording offers endless possibilities with few constraints and is controlled mostly through the visual medium of the computer screen.

In contrast, the so-called limitations of analog recording forced them to concentrate on the “feel” of their music and be more present while recording and listening back.

We were also treated to Rix's innovative musicianship. Rix played piano with his right hand while drumming with his left and also singing harmony vocals, a feat that the Woods call being “omni-dextrous.”


  • Oliver Wood - acoustic and electric guitars
  • Chris Wood - bass
  • Jano Rix - drums, shuitar, piano


  1. Line Those Pockets
  2. Rollin' On
  3. Pilgrim
John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KNKX since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KNKX “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.
Abe grew up in Western Washington, a third generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.
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