There are aspects of online writing that operate as ostensible prospectus. Granted, that was about as wordy and confusing a first sentence as any, but it serves the overall theme of this recap (and besides, we’ve made questionable ledes somewhat of of a calling card). But there is a purpose.
Before we further delve into (yet another) rambling lede, let it be known this is a recap of Kentucky bluegrass band The Wooks’ first (!!!) Nashville show, so if that’s the reason you’re reading (and we hope you are) and wish to only read about that, feel free to skip the next couple paragraphs to experience a supremely exceptional set.
Anyway, without getting too conspiratorial, let’s take a brief look at what would propel someone open with such an peculiar and overly grandiose establishing thought.
The world of working, writing, and/or operating online publications (or publications in general) is done under the guise of “understanding.” We’ll use those quotations in order to convey just how vague said “understandings” are. A lot of times, publications will reach out to publicists (and vice versa) in order to gain access to artists, entities, or personalities that they would otherwise lack said access too.
Most of the time, publications reach out to artists that would appeal to their readership; pretty straightforward, right? On the publicist’s end (and this is rather speculative, considering we’ve only ever operated on the publication end), they determine whether or not some combination of the inquiring publication’s brand, style and readership would mesh well with their own.
Typically, when these interactions are mutually beneficial, the exchange results in a ticket to a show, a photo pass, or whatever accommodates the request in good faith. Then comes the show, event, etc., and the publication provides “coverage” that ultimately let’s the reader know how great the performing act was, and that they should see them next time they’re in their town, or to interact with the act further. It’s all pretty straightforward.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, this good faith coverage is one hundred percent honest in just how great or amazing an act was (because why would you invite people out to a show that sucked?), but every once and a while, you’ll run into one that’s overly effusive, almost to a fault, and one can’t help but wonder whether or not the set was even remotely as phenomenal as the writer might lead the reader to believe. That’s the risk run in a good faith handshake agreement.
ALL of that to be said, this recap of The Wooks’ first Nashville show is thankfully part of that aforementioned ninety-nine percent - a show recap that stacks up as undeniably accurate in representation and commendation.
As referenced earlier, The Wooks are a bluegrass band from Lexington, Kentucky. Such a fact would lead one to believe that due to the relatively close geographic proximity of The Wooks’ homebase to our fair city, along with their chosen genre, they would have played Nashville many times. But as alluded to a number of times now, this was The Wooks’ very first Nashville show. There’s something kind of remarkable about that, especially when you consider just how receptive (and occasionally possessive) Nashville has become (see: remained) toward Americana, yet has somehow been perilously low on a stable of go-to up and coming bluegrass acts. It’s actually somewhat concerning just how much bluegrass seems to have fallen by the wayside in Nashville’s “next wave.”
Luckily for the city, however, The Wooks exist, and if their candidacy was ever in question for being Nashville’s surrogate bluegrass, their High Watt show eliminated any and all doubt quite nicely. Despite being the opening act (for The Lil Smokies), The Wooks all but stole the night. They understood their role - to get people “ready for some good bluegrass music,” as frontman Arthur Hancock succinctly stated - and all but exceeded the expectation that follows.
Joined by Della Mae mandolinist Jenni Lyn Gardner, The Wooks ran through some of the first-rate bluegrass tunes off their debut LP, Little Circles, along with their most recent single “Me and the Stars,” written by banjoist (is that a word?) Aaron Bibelhauser. Not even a broken string from guitarist CJ Cain could derail the set, thanks in large part to Hancock, Bibelhauser, and bass player Roddy Puckett’s fine bluegrass jam.
There was many a moment of unbridled elation from the audience, so much so that the question of when will The Wooks return to Nashville must be begged. Whenever it may be, what you can be sure of, it’ll likely be a headlining show, as The Wooks seem poised for nothing more than continued success in their bluegrass endeavor. Their live set is something reminiscent of Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman, or the best of any Mike Snider-led bluegrass leg of the Grand Ole Opry. In fact, The Wooks feel like the perfect Opry act, especially considering just how damn good their live set is, and they’ve got the banter to boot.
It’s exciting to see where The Wooks wind up next (from a literal sense, they’re in Fort Collins on Wednesday), and if ever there were a time for Nashville to hop on The Wooks bandwagon, it would be now. Here’s to hoping more bands like The Wooks make their way down to Nashville to help level out the disparity of good mountain music in the Country Music Capital of the World. You better believe they're a show you don't want to miss.