Gnar Vector Records
Given that the folk music community has played host to bands called The Vulcans and Klingon Klezmer, I suppose it was inevitable that a new franchise begged for equal time, in the form of this debut recording by a Kentucky quintet calling themselves The Wooks. They even bookend their CD with playful self-referential novelty pieces “Calling All You Wookies” and “Wookie Foot Shuffle.” But, in between, they reveal themselves to be a promising new group, comfortably straddling the borderland between traditional bluegrass and jamgrass.
Their strengths are many, not the least of which is a sensitive ear for arrangement that keeps each track fresh and interesting, and some consistently crisp and solid instrumental work from bandmembers Arthur Hancock on banjo, fiddler Jesse Wells, and mandolinist Galen Green. Along with guitarist C.J. Cain, who wrote the lion’s share of the band’s original songs, and bassist Roddy Puckett, they manage to give the band a consistently coherent sound despite having more than one lead singer.
They also load the program with original material, which is the most effective way for any new band to create their own identity. Their material is solid, but probably not quite up to the caliber of the covers they include here, a nice repackaging of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” and a very effective rendition of an older gospel song that’s become associated with the late Jerry Garcia, “My Brothers And Sisters.” The title track, “Little Circles,” is probably the most memorable of the band’s own pieces. So, what we’re left with is a new band that makes a strong opening statement with its playing and arranging and choice of material. There’s enough talent here to give hope for even better things to come from The Wooks in the future. (www.wookoutamerica.com)HK