NEWPORT, Ky. -- On a day when everybody is Irish, what better way to celebrate St. Patrick than with the Emerald Isle's musical descendent: bluegrass.
Lexington-based five-piece The Wooks represents the latest iteration of bluegrass, whose roots stem from the mountain music of Irish, Scottish and English migrants who settled the hills of Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee.
The Wooks, founded in 2014, say they’re as at home playing a festival stage as they are in a barn in the heart of Kentucky's horse country. They backed up that claim by nabbing first place at the 2016 RockyGrass band competition in Lyons, Colorado. It was a win that almost wasn’t since the group came as a last-minute addition to the lineup.
"(Mandolin player) Galen (Green) decided to give RockyGrass a phone call for the umpteenth time asking if there were any cancelations in the band contest. We all figured it would be the routine ‘No,' but we tried to put as many wook vibes out there as we could, crossed our fingers, all that jazz … and, to our surprise, there was a cancelation, and we were in!” the band wrote on their blog.
Green’s inspiration for the title track came while strolling about his family farm in Bourbon County, reflecting on the recent deaths of two close friends taken before the age of 30.
"(The chorus) has to do with the importance of not taking a single moment for granted with your loved ones and your friends,” Green told The Kentucky Kernel. “You know, it sounds cliche, but it's true: This moment might be all that we have, so don't squander it. Cherish it! You never have any clue when the last time you are going to see somebody is going to be. I think a lot of this song came from me learning that.”
Recorded at Nashville’s Compass Records with producer Alison Brown, Little Circles contains seven original songs and three borrowed cuts that exemplify all the musical ground The Wooks can cover, plus a fun intro Chewbacca would be proud of: “calling all you Wookies.”
The band calls Little Circles a true expression of life as they know it, “full of tales of both city and country, friends lost and love chased, bourbons drunk and jigs danced,” which is certainly not so far off from what’s going down at the Cock & Bull Public House this St. Patrick’s Day.
“What has happened, in largely organic fashion, is a string-music sound that recalls renegade innovators John Hartford and David Grisman as much as roots-driven sources Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs, along with improv-savvy interplay that endears the band to jam music fans and bluegrass traditionalists alike,” Tunis wrote.
Alongside Green, The Wooks are CJ Cain on guitar, Arthur Hancock on banjo, Roddy Puckett on upright bass and Jesse Wells on fiddle. Their swing through the Tri-State comes as they prepare for the summer festival season with shows at RockyGrass, Rudy Fest, The John Hartford Memorial Festival, ROMP and the SamJam Bluegrass Festival.
If you go:
The Southgate House Revival - Revival Room
Friday, March 17