The Joy Formidable
It's been seven years now since Wood & Wire sprouted out of the rich musical soil of Austin, Texas. In that time, they've written music, recorded albums, and performed at some of the most notable festivals and venues across the country, culminating in a GRAMMY Nomination for their 2018 release “North of Despair” on Blue Corn Music.
In the often tightly defined genre of bluegrass music, Wood & Wire's "band-style" ethos are not unheard of. Nor are the elements of song crafting, so often associated with their Texas home, that permeate their sound. That said, what comes out of the Wood & Wire blender is something entirely its own. Tony Kamel -- leader singer, guitarist, mover, shaker, and primary songwriter -- brings his material to the group in a malleable form, and the results are illimitable. "I think I'm most proud of how we've developed our sound together," says Kamel. "It feels great to step on stage feeling like we've really found our own style."
A culmination of very distinct musical personalities, there’s one ambition they all share: “Our goal is to show up and drive, so that the energy hits you, and it’s undeniable,” says bassist Dom Fisher.
Fisher, a New York state native, formed the group with Kamel in 2011. Shortly thereafter, the addition of banjoist Trevor Smith, says Fisher, “really put us on a different level.”
Smith, who had been playing music with Fisher, Kamel and other local musicians at a weekly bluegrass gig in Austin, actually grew up playing classical piano. After attending his first bluegrass festival, he picked up his main instrument, 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.”
Mandolinist Billy Bright joined the group in 2014. Bright brought with him a suitcase full of tunes and a trunk full of ideas.”Billy really rounded us out in a big way” says Fisher. “We were really excited to finally make a studio record with him.”
All of that excitement lead to the creation of “North of Despair”. It’s the melding of hard country songwriting with high-octane bluegrass instrumentation that makes for Wood & Wire’s signature sound. They cut these tunes live to tape with minimal editing bringing the well known ferocity of their live shows, and an impromptu joy to each track – a joy that developed out of playing over 150 shows a year since 2014. This is really their first studio record since they began touring nationally, making it their most definitive to date. Booking now for 2019, these guys have developed a solid reputation of giving joyous and heartfelt performances, often described as having the best of both the traditional and progressive sounds, with a unique backbeat feel influenced by Texas sounds they’ve honed in over the years.
“We’re fortunate to have reached both die-hard bluegrass fans, folks who have never heard of bluegrass, and everything in between,” says Kamel. “We’ll keep working hard to bring the music to our fans.”