Wood Family Tradition

by Susan Marquez

 

Jason Wood says that he loves sharing his family’s love of music with fellow lovers of bluegrass music. As a member of a traditional bluegrass band called Wood Family Tradition, Jason appreciates the roots of bluegrass music and is proud that the band is doing what they can to preserve the original sound. “We play the old Osborne Brothers tunes and the like, but at the same time, we want to make our own sound.”

 

Wood Family Tradition
Wood Family Tradition
Wood Family Tradition
Wood Family Tradition

 

Wood Family Tradition has made quite a splash on the bluegrass scene in Northern California, playing festivals whenever possible. This isn’t the first time the Wood family has had a band. Back in the 1960s legendary banjoist/singer/songwriter Al Wood started a hard-driving traditional bluegrass band that played original music called the Smokey Ridge Boys. Brothers Mike and Bobby traveled with their dad’s band for over 35 years. From eastern North Carolina to southern Virginia, and at bluegrass festivals across Tennessee, including the 1982 World’s Fair and Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom
Festival, the brothers have spent a lifetime entertaining audiences with their bluegrass stylings.Mike’s started the current rendition of the Wood family band with his son, Jason, who has toured the United States and Canada and was part of Bill Monroe’s 100th-year celebration, Live at Bean Blossom. Jason played bass with his grandfather for several years before Al’s retirement from the festival circuit. In 2009, Jason and his brother-in-law Brian Aldridge were featured on PBS’s Song of the Mountains with special guest Curley Seckler of Flatt & Scruggs.

 

 

“We’ve come full circle with this band,” says Jason. “Brian’s dad played with the Bass Mountain Boys and he recorded two albums with my grandfather. In 2009 I did a year-long stint with a band called Constant Change with Brian. We’ve played together ever since.”

Jason says he couldn’t be more excited to be part of a family band.

“Often people think of family bands as a band with a bunch of kids. But we are all adults. In a good bluegrass band, when you play with people you know for so long you know what each other will do. You can all have hot licks, but the key thing is our harmonies. We are all so connected because we’ve played with each other for so long, that we instinctively know what each other will do. It’s a comfortable feeling that resonates with our audiences.”

Today Wood Family Tradition is made up of Mike Wood on guitar, Jason Wood on mandolin, Bobby Wood on bass, McKenzie Wood on vocals (Jason’s wife) and Brian Aldridge (who is married to Jason’s sister) on banjo. “Music has been such an influential part of our lives,” explains Jason. “All the band members are multi-instrumentalists. I play guitar, mandolin, and bass, and we can sing all harmony parts. Our ranges vocally vary from baritone to tenor. I’d say we are quite versatile.”

The group plays a lot of old country songs, old bluegrass music and many of Al Wood’s old songs. “It’s the kind of music that harkens back to better times,” says Jason. “It’s music that speaks to people’s hearts and values. There’s a song my grandfather wrote back in the 60s or 70s that I found on an old cassette. It’s called Better Times. My grandfather gave us the OK to record it, and we put our own spin on it. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.”

The Wood Family Tradition’s name, as well as their self-named album released in 2015, stems from Al Wood’s legacy. “He was so accomplished as a world champion banjo player and a songwriter who produced songs recorded by greats such as Rhonda Vincent and many others. My dad, Mike, is an excellent rhythm guitar player. I told my dad that when I got married, we needed to start a band and what we’ve started is really working.” In addition to Better Times, the album contains a sampling of true mountain bluegrass, gospel music and age-old stories of broken hearts, revenge, trains and hobos with strong vocals, picking and writing from all the members of the group.

 

The band entered the band competition at SPGMA and has played festivals across Northern California. They played Lorraine Jordan’s Bluegrass in the Smokies at Pigeon Forge and will perform on an eight-day Carnival Cruise to Aruba in 2020.

 

Leave a Reply