It is OK, I didn’t know who Will Wood was either until I was approached by his PR agent Suzanne. In this present time in space we are contending with the internet. There are people much more talented than any household name that gets dropped into your social media feeds with the help of algorithms, key words, and tags. In those far reaches of cyberspace people can have near a million followers and still not be what some would call famous. The brilliantly adept Wood is that diamond in the northeast corner of the net hiding under that hot girl doing the splits on two garbage cans.
Wood is an earnest natural songwriter with a flair of the weird and absurd. What does come out the most in his songs is his ability to be honest and make that connection with people at the same time.
The Normal Album is a perfect testament to my claims in the above paragraph. Wood shows his range with a pop sensibility, cabaret, and even Doo Wop (“I / Myself / Me”).
Over the short span of his career his fanbase has done nothing but grow. His fans are what you would call passionate and loyal to their prominent troubadour.
When I first got to Will’s Pub in Orlando, Florida I almost missed the building. It wasn’t as large as you would expect it to be with someone like Will Wood playing there. Where Will’s Pub lacks in space it more than made up for it in charm… and a great booze selection. There is also the sister bar attached to Will’s Pub called Lil Indies.
Lil Indies is a nice relaxing pub atmosphere. They have antique looking couches and a quaint little bar. The bartenders are amazing in there. Again, great selection of alcohol. Will’s Pub is where the party is at. That’s the stage and it looks like some of my favorite Chicago Punk dive bars that I used to frequent. The walls were decked out with stickers, random animal heads, bar paraphernalia, and quite a collection of cheese ridden black velvet paintings (they even had a Kenny Rogers one).
The Sarah Rose Project was the first band to grace the stage that evening. I missed just about all their set due to the fact that I was out back doing the interview with Wood. What I did catch was amazing. They are a perfect blend of modern punk, whimsical cabaret, and topped with a real tongue in cheek sense of humor.
After the interview with Wood, I walked into Lil Indies to get what the courts are now calling a mega pint of wine. I ran into a guy ordering a drink next to me. We began talking about what I was doing. I told the guy, “I’m a music journalist for GonzoToday.com.” I held up my press badge and he took a picture of the QR code on the back. “I’m here to cover the show and I just got done with my interview with Will Wood.”
I said that I have no idea who else is playing and told him how I missed most of the first set doing the interview. It turned out that the man I was talking to was the second act to go on. His name was Stinky Steve and he held out his hand for me to shake. I looked at him and said, “Stinky Steve huh? Kind of a shitty name.”
We both laughed and he proceeded to tell me about what he does. “I play acoustic punk.”
“Oh, you’re a one-man band like Amigo the Devil?”
“Yeah, just not nearly as good. I got tired of dealing with bands and drama.”
He left to go get on stage and I went out back to the outdoor sitting area to go over some of the pictures and footage so far with my assistant for the night.
I went into the venue to check out Stinky Steve. Honestly, I really wasn’t expecting much. As a music journalist you get told you have to see all kinds of bands. It was nothing against Steve. I was happy to be proved wrong. This local guy with no label and a handful of shows had the crowd eating out of his stinky little hands.
Stinky Steve howled, jumped, and slammed through his set of music like a twenty-year veteran of the stage.
This was a special kind of show for Wood. This was just him and his instruments. There was no huge band production. He played and sang. He had his guitar, the keyboard, his ukulele, and he was also equipped with his sharp sense of humor and vast vocal range; the set was Wood naked and bare. Not really, this wasn’t some skyclad orgy. Though, some of his fans might get into that sort of thing, it is just a figure of speech.
The small intimate venue was packed with people shoulder to shoulder. You could hardly move in the room. From the first note he had the crowd of people enchanted.
Wood is an effortless entertainer. He is cool, quirky, and flawless. But unlike many professional bands whose stage prowess is filled with cocky swagger and stage effects, Wood doesn’t need any of that. In fact, I think Wood’s real attraction comes from his nervousness. I wouldn’t call it a lack of confidence. He is an exception to the rules, an enigma, and kind of an oxymoron.
IJ’ll explain that. It is not a negative. He is a musician in 2022 who doesn’t look at social media as a real positive in this world. When all of his colleagues and peers are using and abusing social media for gain, he doesn’t touch it. He understands the need so others do it for him. He isn’t a fan. In our interview he addresses all this, so I won’t go into it too much. I will just leave it as an oxymoron.
One thing is for sure when it comes to Wood. You have never heard anything quite like this before, yet it still feels warm, comfortable, and familiar.
This is a man who used to play characters on the stage. On this tour (In Case I Die Tour 2022) Wood is stripped down for the first time. It is just him. For some that can be terrifying, but Wood’s professionalism and desire to entertain keeps you tapped into the nucleus of his world.
Be sure to buy The Normal Album and look for his upcoming album, In Case I Make It.
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