Outside the Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) on October 4, a fall chill was in the air, but inside the venue, the Kat Wright Trio warmed up the audience for an incredible evening with The Wood Brothers.
Wright has a soft but forceful voice that is folksy and soulful, and several patrons remarked she has the sweet sound of Joni Mitchell combined with the powerful tone of Amy Winehouse.
She started her set with I’ve Been Down and dedicated it to country music legend Loretta Lynn, who had just passed away earlier in the day.
Wright introduced her song Take Me With You, describing how it came about after performing at Vermont’s Bread and Puppet Theater. It’s a tune about running away to the circus and is a hauntingly beautiful ballad accompanied by the talented guitarist Bob Wagner. The song will stir emotions in those of us who dream of carnivals and pageantry.
Wright’s rendition of Janis Joplin’s 60s hit song Take Another Piece of My Heart, written by Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Berns, was dynamic and well-received by the audience. Of the eight songs Wright sang, she shared one song she wrote recently titled Reminder, with a line in the beginning, “Let go of all your fears if you want to fly,” showcasing her magical writing skills combined with the accomplished sounds from Wagner’s guitar and Josh Weinstein on the bass.
Wright’s talent is impressive and well-deserved. Booming applause rang throughout the theater at the end of her performance.
Headliner The Wood Brothers, an Americana band with a repertoire that transcends the genres of blues, folk, and jazz, with a bit of gospel thrown in, graced the stage next. Vocalist Oliver Wood, who plays acoustic and electric guitars, was accompanied by his younger brother Chris, a talented bass and melodica player. However, the most outstanding gift he shared, and an overwhelming hit with the audience, was his interpretive dancing to the band’s music, with legs that look like rubber bands. The two brothers played alongside drummer Jano Rix, who entertained listeners with the keyboard harmonica while accompanying the two on various songs.
Throughout the evening, the band played a selection of their acclaimed lengthy catalog, including Little Bit Broken and Alabaster, from their album Kingdom in My Mind and Postcards from Hell and One More Day.
Oliver Wood warmed the audience by asking, “Is Morristown a hamlet?” He responded, “I had an omelet in the hamlet.” Again, Wood set the mood as the guests chuckled. The audience was enthusiastic about the talent on stage and responded by dancing in the aisles for the next two hours.
The attendees were a diverse mix. As Wood overlooked the audience, he responded, “Some parents brought their kids tonight, and some kids brought their parents. When introducing the song I Got Loaded after that comment, Wood said, “It only makes sense to do a drinking song because it’s Tuesday.”
At the show’s end, the Kat Wright Trio joined the Wood Brothers onstage for a full-hearted version of their song Sing About It, and the crowd went wild. The essence of the evening was all around pure joy and entertainment from gifted performers willing to spend their time with an appreciative audience. Let’s hope we see the return of the Kat Wright Trio and The Woods Brothers soon.
The Wood Brothers and the Kat Wright Trio will be touring through December.
Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960. Tickets are available online at The Official Ticketing Site of Mayo Performing Arts Center | Mayo Performing Arts Center (mayoarts.org)
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