The last time Woody Pines played at the Bullfrog things got a little crazy - wild reveries punctuated by a patron or two dancing on tables. But for a Woody Pines gig, that's par for the course. Their raucous blend of traveling medicine show blues and jazzy speakeasy shuffle are played with a New Orleans-tinged attitude. Not surprising, considering the band's origins.
"New Orleans has music seeping out of the bricks in the old French quarter," said Woody Pines, who moved to the Crescent City to immerse himself in the city's famous music scene, but now resides in Asheville, N.C.
The band went down there to learn [the music] not just note for note, but also through the food and lifestyle that make New Orleans so special.
"We started in the streets of New Orleans and there you have to play your instruments loud so they can be heard over the hustle and bustle," Pines said. "Also you couldn't plug anything in. The songs have to be upbeat and fast to grab the 5- second attention span of passerbys on the streets."
Woody Pines, the band, has been together for about three years. Pines played solo before that and for a little while as a one-and-a-half-man band.
Playing in a one-man band, billed as a duo he was playing kick drum, hi-hat and guitar. Pines also had a bass player and that didn't sit too well with all the other "one-man bands," so he asked another performer if he played drums. The group Woody Pines got together after that.
By the way, Woody Pines is a band - and a person. Confused? Don't be.
"When I was in high school, my pals and I pals idolized folks like Bob Dylan, Rambling Jack Elliot and Utah Phillips," Pines said. "Everyone called me 'Woody' from my last name. When i hitchhiked out west and formed a jug band, we all made up names. I made up Woody Pines and it stuck. Now it's kind of an alter ego, both a band and a person," Pines said.
The band is comprised of Woody on guitar, banjo, harmonica and lead vocals; Zack Pozebanchuk on upright bass; and a shapeshifting band of drums and fiddle that epitomizes the swinging ragtime and country sound embraces a simpler time. The group has released four CD's, their most recent being 2009's Counting Alligators.
These self-described "road dogs" have done 120 shows since last November. That's not including the 25 or so shows they've done in the United Kingdom.
According to Pines, the group has pretty much have been living in the van and in hotel rooms. But they've kept good company on the road as well-touring with the likes of the legendary Billy Joe Shaver, Old Crow Medicine Show and many others.
Music industry heavyweights are in a state of disarray or focusing on mainstream or teen-oriented bands groups. Artists such as Woody Pines rely on revenues from live performances and sales of merchandise, CDs and downloads of their music. In many ways, this is a brave new world as far as the music industry, but one whose challenges Woody Pines meets.
"It's actually a very exciting time for musicians because you can make a record at home that sounds pretty awesome," Pines said. "Our last record was recorded in my living room and it charted No. 6 last June on the UK Americana charts just below Willie Nelson's latest."
Fans of the band say a Woody Pines show is like a time machine to an era of AM radios and flappers. Live, the group infuses a hundred years of American music into their performance - everything from early 20th century acoustic blues to the White Stripes, and they'll even drop some Jay Z in the mix - it's a fast-paced, high-energy show.
Expect original tunes like "Counting Alligators," "Pretty Blue Eyes," "Satisfied" and "Long Gone Lost John," plus the group includes an interesting cover or two.
"I'll throw a cover in sometimes, some song we are all feeling or just learned, kind of like Doc Watson," Pines said. "'I'm a song tamperer' you could say. We do some songs from old weird Americana and give them our own twist-like putting trumpet on a old banjo tune and changing the lyrics a bit. For example, it's hard to sing about say the song '20 cent cotton, 90 cent meat' when today it's like, '$7 minimum wage ain't got a cent, need $300 to pay the rent - we contemporize them.' "
Woody Pines will play the Bullfrog Brewery at 8 p.m. Sunday. For more information on the band, visit www.woodypines.com.