Oliver and Chris Wood along with their trusty percussionist and shitarist Jano Rix descended  upon the foothills of Boulder, Colorado at the historic Chautauqua Auditorium for a full night of music. It was a breezy summer evening with kids playing and laughing throughout the park grounds. The bucolic setting was once a summer retreat for educators that dates all the way back to 1898. Today it hosts a wide range of lectures and musical programming. it is one of just a few such institutions still in operation today. The auditorium itself is a 124 year old structure that has hosted everyone from John Phillips Sousa to Hunter S. Thompson to Cake. However unlikely, native Boulder sons The Wood Brothers had never performed in the space so it made for a special kind of homecoming for the band.

The plush seats almost seemed out of place in the antiquated building but I wasn’t asking questions. There was ample help from the ushers finding our spot and a nicely appointed beer garden off to the left of the stage. The night got started with a little help from singer-songwriter and Austin, Texas native Calder Allen. This tall drink of water writes songs from a perspective well beyond his 19 years. Donning a flat brim hat, corduroy jacket and skinny jeans Allen treated attendees to several tracks off of his new album including a nostalgic, acoustic tune “Good Times.” Mid set he invited Willow Avalon to add her buttery vocals to the mix. They sang “Bend of the River,” which Allen noted was the first song he ever wrote. It’s about a favorite spot by the water in his hometown. Willow stayed up for another track which the two had just written the week prior. The song had no name but it was a sweet love song about not missing someone who may be right in front of you. He wrapped up his forty minute set with “Rodeo” Allen’s ode the hard life of a traveling cowboy.

The Wood Brothers sauntered onto the stage for their sold-out hometown throw down to the sound of raucous applause. They wasted no time diving deep into their catalog with a pair from the 2018 Release One Drop of Truth with “River Takes The Town” and a bass-heavy “Can’t Look Away.” Oliver was talkative and let the audience know that despite growing up just down the street and attending a few shows at the Chautauqua they’d never had the pleasure of playing in this hallowed hall. This was a sit down show but fans fought the urge to break out in dance before retreating the aisles to get some space. “Postcards From Hell” played well into the newer track “Cry Over Nothing” about not taking things too seriously. The trio seemed more open to the jam this evening trading licks and letting the solos breath. The funky groove of “Alabaster” drifted out of the PA before they went into a Russian inspired riff that became the foundation of “Stumbled In.” At this point in the show Jano appeared from behind the kit with his trusty shitar in hand. This is the classic Wood Brothers formation and they regaled us with “Keep Me Around” and “When I Was Young” that featured some serious dance moves from Chris as he braced himself against the bass. Oliver took back the spotlight with his anthemic tune “Little Bit Broken” before Chris finally took the mic on “Losin’ Streak.’

Like cork exploding from a shaken champaign bottle Oliver invited those that might be inclined, to get up and dance. A wave of elation took over the crowd as they busted a move to “Happiness Jones.” And just as quickly Oliver advised the audience that this next number was a sit down affair. The three Wood Brothers gathered around a single mic for their now classic song, “The Muse.”  Jano got a chance to impress with a drum solo during the set closing “One More Day.” The band encored with a beautiful version of “Luckiest Man” that became a singsong with the entire crowd.

This really did feel like a homecoming of sorts with lots of smiles and just a general joy in the air. This town has been the home to a ton of musicians over the years, but very few are actually from the mean streets of The People’s Republic of Boulder. And thusly The Wood Brothers have toured and performed worldwide and yet they always make it a point to come back home. We’re lucky with the whole music thing out here in Colorado, but it’s the smaller shows in the lesser-known venues that can make living here truly magical.