Show Review + Photos: The Woodgrains in Athens, GA

review & photos by Michael Hall

In a music-soaked town like Athens, you might quickly find yourself adrift in a roiling sea of weird, mediocre and sometimes, just-plain-bad music. Every band tries to separate The Woodgrains 8themselves from the competition, which often leads to experimentation, which is often poorly executed, which then becomes merely a gimmick.

The crowd at the Melting Point on Friday, Dec. 3, in Athens, was lucky enough to be spared the gimmicks when The Woodgrains stepped on stage. Part of a three band line-up, headlined by The Packway Handle Band, The Woodgrains opened a few eyes and got every foot stomping with the kind of straight forward, bare-bones approach that has worked for decades.

Their track “Intrepid Traveler” tipped the show off well. The song’s strong back beat and twangy, reverb heavy guitar, laced with vocal harmonies, showed a bit of the band’s Waycross, GA roots. The next tune, “Storyteller,” was slower, sparse and easy going, another song with the stamp of Graham Parsons.

Moving into “Wild Iris Blue,” The Woodgrains showed their propensity for the psychedelic. A howling guitar solo highlighted the soulful romp that also displayed the band’s ability to compose a beautifully dynamic cut.

Dylan Crosby’s Stratocaster humming with heavy fuzz and the metronome precision of Evan Amburn’s Drums and Nick Carroll’s bass cooked well in the basement like walls of The Melting Point, creating a succulent stew of classic rock, country rock and psychedelia that is often overlooked by modern bands. A record player and a Foosball table with a couple of beers from your dad’s fridge would have completed the experience.

The show was mostly originals, but the cover tune for the night was a stripped down, yet plugged in, version of “Suite Judy Blue Eyes.” On this tune, the band’s proficiency with the three part harmony was clearly evident.

Each song drips with the soul of country blues and an attitude of pure adrenaline. Thoughtful compositions and lyrics, simple instrumentation and great musicianship make The Woodgrains a band that is not to be missed.

It is refreshing to listen to a band that sticks to a winning formula, and does it well. No gimmicks here, just good, old fashioned rock and roll.