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Wood and Wire: Sublime Bluegrass, Rough and Polished in Equal Measure

Wood and Wire
Nikki Gell , woodandwireband.com

When it comes time to choose a name for a band, it’s hard to find a moniker that’s more solid and authentic than “Wood and Wire.”

And the influential magazine Bluegrass Today agrees, calling the Austin-based Wood and Wire “an interesting combination of rough and polished, where solid instrumentation mixed with frenetic picking and Americana-influenced vocals create an enjoyable progressive Bluegrass sound.”

Another reviewer boils it down even further: “Sublime Bluegrass.”

“Our influences go way back to where, basically, hillbilly and Bluegrass music started,” says lead vocalist and guitar flat-picker extraordinaire Tony Kamel. “Our newest album [‘The Coast’] is a modern take on hillbilly, Bluegrass, and country.”

Some of those all-original numbers are unexpected combinations, such as the audience favorite “Dancin’ on My Grave,” which explores a love-gone-bad-wrong but in a blistering upbeat rendition that’s perfect for…well, dancing:

“Well, I hear that you still hate me / And you wish that I was dead / After all these years have come and gone / I can’t argue with you, babe / When it all comes to a head / You can dance on my grave when I’m gone…”

“Lonesome and Blue” and “Love Gone Wrong,” by contrast, combine heart-wrinching lyrics with a waltz-like pace. The Bluegrass Today reviewer singles out three more favorites:

“The group kicks things off on a high note with ‘Anne Marie,’ a rollicking, banjo-guided number that was written about Kamel’s grandparents. The ‘opposites attract’ story of a rowdy young man who marries the ‘pure and pretty’ Anne Marie is one of the highlights of the album. ‘Greener Grass’ is another enjoyable upbeat number, with a fresh, clear sound reminiscent of Tim O’Brien. ‘Torture of Love’ could have been taken from the repertoire of Jimmy Martin.

“The elements of song crafting, so often associated with their Texas home, permeate their sound. That said, what comes out of the Wood & Wire blender is something entirely its own.”

Primary songwriter Kamel and New York native Dom Fisher are the group’s founders. They added banjoist Trevor Smith–ironically, all three grew up playing classical piano–and mandolinist Billy Bright to round out the “solid instrumentation” of which reviewers enthusiastically speak.

Smith still remembers attending his first Bluegrass festival, and coming away fixated on the banjo.  “I was perplexed by the sound of it, and I had to figure it out,” says Smith. “We’re rooted in traditional Bluegrass but don’t limit ourselves to any perceived notion of what that’s supposed to be. We do our own thing, and we realize that vision collectively.”

That collective vision will also be the signpost for their upcoming early 2018 album that’s now in the works. “We can’t wait,” says Kamel. “This will be our most definitive record to date. We’re fortunate to have reached both die-hard Bluegrass fans, folks who have never heard of Bluegrass, and everything in between. We’ll keep working hard to bring the music to our fans.”

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