By Matt Wickstrom
Thursday night local bluegrass quintet The Wooks will bring their home-brewed blend of mountain music to The Green Lantern — the group’s first visit to the bar that’s been a mainstay in Lexington for over 60 years.
According to bassist Roddy Puckett, The Wooks are the brainchild of banjoist Arthur Hancock. Rounding out the group are Galen Green on the mandolin, Jess Wells on the fiddle, and C.J. Cain on the acoustic guitar.
Puckett’s musical journey started off playing the saxophone during his time in middle school. However, Puckett’s musical intrigue took an abrupt turn when he saw one of the world’s most iconic bands, The Grateful Dead, for the first time.
“I saw the Grateful Dead when I was 17 and it was like ‘Woah!’” Puckett said. “Everything about the show blew me away. I had a guitar in the corner of my bedroom belonging to my dad that I began picking on soon thereafter.”
Outside of The Wooks, Puckett is a part of several other projects prominent in Lexington’s music scene, including Kentucky Wild Horse, Kentucky Hoss Cats, Triple Crown, Owsley County, and the Allman Butter Band, a tribute to the legendary Allman Brothers. Wells also joins Puckett in Hoss Cats and Wild Horse. Puckett also occasionally sits in with other local favorites Warren Byrom and Bear Medicine.
“I didn’t grow up on bluegrass, but the Dead helped spark that,” said Puckett. “The jazzy acoustics of David “Dawg” Grisman and progressiveness of Béla Fleck also strongly intrigued and influenced me.”
The Wooks are prepping for 2016 to be their biggest year to date. The group has been hard at work on their debut album, which they plan on finishing up next week. The album is being recorded at Compass Studios in Nashville. The studio has also played host to bluegrass veterans The Duhks, Infamous Stringdusters, and The Hillbenders, among others. The Hillbenders recently visited Lexington last November, when they performed a bluegrass rendition of The Who’s “Tommy” at Cosmic Charlie’s.
“Alison Brown is producing the record,” Puckett said. “She’s a badass banjo picker in her own right. We hope to have the record out this summer. Next week we’ll just be doing a couple of vocal tracks and banjo cleanups before everything is ready to be mastered.”
Production of the album had been delayed by Hancock’s back injury, which sidelined him for the better part of five months late last year, but with the injury on the path to recovery the band has all cylinders pumping once again.
Aside from their show Thursday night, The Wooks will also be performing this Friday night at Idle Hour Country Club. In late March the group will play one of the first shows at the newly relocated Willie’s Locally Known, which will occupy the former space of Show Me’s on Southland Drive. Two shows at Al’s Bar on April 8 and May 6 round out The Wooks current schedule of shows through the spring semester.
“We do some standard bluegrass, but I come from the jam world, and mentally these guys all do too,” Puckett said. “I’m really honored to get to play with them, and all of the other great musicians I’m with in other bands.”
Doors open for The Wooks show Thursday at 9 p.m., with music kicking off at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5.
Check out a making of video for The Wooks upcoming album below.