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Musician's Spotlight - Oliver Wood

Oliver Wood
Joshua Black Wilkins
/
Oliver Wood

Oliver Wood of the Grammy-nominated Americana band The Wood Brothers returns to Musician's Spotlight to talk with host John Floridis about his first solo recording "Always Smilin'," as well as the most recent band recording "Kingdom In My Mind."

Oliver digs into his process of writing from an introspective to an "outrospective" look at the world around him and as well discusses his ongoing journey of grief and healing from the death of his mother from ALS. The interview for Spotlight took place on the Vernal Equinox, the anniversary of his mother's passing. On a much lighter note, Oliver also touches on the use of a chicken coop as a percussive instrument for his solo album.

Oliver Wood is a mainstay of modern-day American roots music. The frontman of the Wood Brothers since 2004, he’s spent the 21st century blurring the boundaries between folk, gospel, country-soul, and Americana, earning an international audience and a Grammy Award-nomination along the way. Always Smilin’, his debut as a solo artist, continues that tradition while also shining new light on Oliver’s sharp songwriting, savvy guitar chops, and a voice that evokes the swagger of a Saturday evening picking party one moment and the solemnity of a Sunday morning gospel service the next.

Always Smilin’ is an album of bridges, mixing a wide range of collaborations with a uniquely personal touch. Guests include bandmates from Oliver’s musical past and present, from mentor and co-writer Chris Long (who performed alongside Oliver in King Johnson, the roots-rock band that dominated Atlanta’s music scene around the turn of the millennium) to percussionist Jano Rix (Oliver’s partner in The Wood Brothers). Blues heroine Susan Tedeschi, Hiss Golden Messenger’s Phil Cook, Medeski Martin & Wood’s John Medeski, Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Tyler Greenwell, Nashville staple Phil Madeira, and singer/songwriter Carsie Blanton also make appearances, with Rebecca Wood — Oliver’s wife — handling the album’s handmade linocut cover art. For Oliver, the goal was simple: to collaborate freely with a mix of old friends and new partners, embracing a new level of independence.

John Floridis, the host and producer of Musician's Spotlight, has been with Montana Public Radio since 1997. He has interviewed over 200 musicians during that time. He is also an independent recording and performing artist in his own right and a former registered music therapist.