Average is not a word that comes to mind when speaking about East Vancouver band Blackberry Wood.
Alternative, folk, gypsy, circus, old-country, vaudeville or whatever you like to call it, the band is sure to get people up on their feet faster than you can say “dance off.”
“We played this show for an after-school care place once and it was all kids in this gym. All the kids were running, having fun and the boys were chasing the girls,” said Woods. “Then we played that same night at a club for adults and I noticed it was exactly the same thing. All the boys were chasing the girls, everyone was jumping around and having fun. It was hilarious.”
It is that kind of infectious energy and upbeat sound that has kept the band on a busy touring schedule taking them to the world-famous Glastonbury Festival in London, across Western Canada, the Yukon and back to Penticton on March 22 at Voodoo’s. In its seven-year lifespan, the band has evolved from a two-piece jam session with lead singer Kris Wood and partner Corinne CoCo into a thriving nine-piece community orchestra and now into a four-piece vaudevillian punk operation that performs almost 200 shows a year throughout Canada and the UK.
Blackberry Wood’s latest album Strong Man vs. Russian Bears, released in 2012, is the band’s tribute to the raw and rambunctious energy of their live show which can feature the tuba, accordion, trumpet, saxophone, ukulele, drums and even a little organ here and there.
“I like a lot of different styles of music and I spent a lot of time thinking how to fit it all together. What I came up with is the idea that if you go to see an old circus you actually see a lot of different styles and things from around the world under one tent. It’s like we all fit together under one tent in that circus kind of way,” said Wood.
The band’s latest set up — which will be on stage for their Penticton show — includes Wood on lead guitar and vox, Charters on saxophones and Ryan Tigg on drums. This is a concentrated high-energy concotion that pays tribute to the band’s entire musical heritage.They play a cabaret spin on old musical styles, adding big, juicy modern flavours like jumping ska, rock and roll, blues, bumping hip hop, gypsy punk and other irresistible body-shaking foot-stomping sounds.
“We have refined having the three of us on stage really well and it gives us another new character to the sound and I am actually having a lot of fun with it,” said Charters of the pared down show. “We can react to each other more quickly and it is fun for the audience too.”
With so many players, or characters as Blackberry Wood likes to call them, coming and going quite often the core members find a little bit of those musicians sticking with them after they have parted.
“There are so many amazing musicians that show up to events and it is totally unexpected what will come into the band next. We might meet a random person at a show and they tell us they play trombone and we say OK come join us. I think the thing about Blackberry Wood is that we are always so excited to try something new and a different version of what we are already doing,” said Charters. “It is always evolving.”
Blackberry Wood plays at Voodoo’s on March 22. Doors open at 7 p.m.