Austin City Limits

ACL Fest Preview: The Wood Brothers and the Parlor Mob (No, That's Not a Young-Adult Mystery Novel)

The Wood Brothers: Rocks Off has a brother, and we're very glad about that. Sometimes we hang out quite a bit, and sometimes we go our separate ways for what seems like forever. But even we have a hard time believing the story of the Wood Brothers. We believe they're brothers - we went to their Web site; Oliver and Chris Wood are natives of Boulder, Colo., sons of a poet and microbiologist (naturally) - but the story of their acoustic duo's origins sounds just a little too precious.

Supposedly, the Wood Brothers began when Oliver's band, Atlanta-based bluesmen King Johnson, happened to be booked with Chris' group - he's the "Wood" in New York City boho jazz-funk trio (and fellow ACL act) Medeski, Martin & Wood - on the same show. The two ran into each other backstage, the bio says, and "decided" to start a band. Whatever. They were probably just sitting around a macrobiotic Thanksgiving Dinner back in Boulder when one said to the other, "Hey man, you want to hear a couple of songs I've been working on?"

Anyhow, the Wood Brothers play rootsy folk that's jazzier than G. Love and less twangy than Todd Snider, but not quite as middle-of-the-road as Jack Johnson. On the tiny BMI stage, they're going to get destroyed by Coheed and Cambria a few hundred yards to the east. Rocks Off says skip both and go check out soulful New Orleans blues cat Walter "Wolfman" Washington or Daniel freakin' Johnston, but Dave Matthews Band fans who are antsy about waiting all the way until Saturday night might want to linger for a song or two.

(4:40 p.m. Friday, October 2, BMI Stage. Medeski, Martin & Wood play 2:30 p.m. Friday, October 2, on the LIVESTRONG East Stage.)

The Parlor Mob: Now this is more like it. Forty years after Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham first crashed these shores, and nearly 20 since John Bonham took one drink too many, there's still no shortage of Zeppelins come lately. ACL has seen quite a few over the years, like Back Door Slam, Heartless Bastards and Rose Hill Drive. This year, we get New Jersey's The Parlor Mob, who are lucky to have Robert Plant dead ringer Mark Melicia on lead vocals. (Younger listeners may hear Wolfmother, which is just as valid, albeit a little less scruffy.)

Like Plant, Melicia can howl and croon with admirable range, and his band can stomp the electric blues ("Hard Times") or do the acoustic hootenanny thing (try the "Gallows Pole"-like "Can't Keep No Good Boy Down") with equal alacrity. Rocks Off knows that sounds familiar, but sometimes familiar can also be fresh.

Now is the time we mention John Paul Jones, now of Them Crooked Vultures but formerly of - well, you know - will just happen to be at Zilker the same day...

(2:20 p.m. Friday, October 2, Austin Ventures Stage)

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray