“Help us out!” Oliver Wood tells the audience during the first verse of “Ophelia,” a set-closing showstopper from the Wood Brothers’ upcoming concert album, Live at the Barn. (Listen to the song, which closes out the nine-track Live at the Barn, below.)
The “barn” in question is Levon Helm’s old home studio in Woodstock, New York, less than 10 minutes away from the house where Helm, Robbie Robertson and the rest of the Band whipped up the songs for 1968’s Music From Big Pink. Less than a decade later, the Band tracked “Ophelia” at their new studio in California, recording one of their signature songs while the group’s breakup loomed on the not-so-distant horizon. When Helm began hosting his famed Midnight Ramble shows at the Woodstock barn in the early 2000s, though, it felt like a return to the Band’s more peaceful roots – to a place where music, not personality clashes, took precedence.
Appropriately, the Wood Brothers turn their live cover of “Ophelia” into a joyous sing-along, stacking their voices into thick blocks of harmony and encouraging the sold-out crowd to pitch in. Recorded in mid-August and set for release on January 13th, Live at the Barn shines a light not only on the Woods’ own tangle of soul, folk and bluesy Americana, but on the long line of roots-rockers who came before them.
“This show was our first time in the Barn since Levon’s passing,” says Oliver, who co-founded the group after sitting in with his brother’s jazz band, Medeski Martin & Wood, during a show in North Carolina. “We have very fond memories of hearing him and even playing with him there. What a huge honor and privilege to capture a performance in that space. You can still feel him in the room!”