Charlie Wood
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Charlie Wood


Band Blues Jazz


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The best kept secret in music


"Sound Advice"

For years, Charlie Wood has been one of the jewels of Beale Street, his ongoing residency at King's Palace Cafe providing one of the most consistent and perhaps the most distincitive live musical experiences to be had on the famous strip.

People think of the blues and of Beale as being guitar-driven, but Wood is a piano man - or organ man, to be more specific. His accomplished, witty playing is rooted in jazz and blues but with echoes of rock, pop, and even gospel. As a singer and lyricist, he has a light, cerebral touch. The result is regional roots music that traces its origins less to a Mississippi bluesman like Muddy Waters that to a more urbane showman such as Arkansas' Louis Jordan. - Chris Herrington - The Memphis Flyer

"Who I Am - Charlie Wood"

If you've got a hankerin' for jazz with a healthy dose of blues, open the doors to King Palace Cafe on Memphis' famed Beale Street, where Charlie Wood sings just about every night. The Memphis native, so influenced by Mose Allison that he took up the Hammond B-3 upon hearing his music, throws out some insight, a dash of humor and a bit of everyday living on his second CD. As the title makes clear, Wood's take on the world is tempered by his worldly experiences: "Back when I was stupid/Easily deceived and duped/I didn't know the real thing from the sham thing," he relates on "Back When I Was Stupid," while jamming on the B-3. On "Don't You Ever Stop Talking," he fantasizes about the fate of loud mouths; on "She Turned Me Down," it becomes clear-crystal clear-that the road to romantic bliss has had its bumps. Wood's voice falls somewhere between John Pizzarelli's joyful diction and Harry Connick Jr., with traces of Michael Franks' whimsy. And there's some healthy, swinging jazz playing amid the soul-baring, courtesy of guitarist Calvin Newborn, drummer Renardo Ward and killer brass by Tom Clary, Scott Thompson, Kirk Smothers and Jim Spake.

-Brian Soergel
- JazzTimes

"Beale Career"

"...Charlie Wood is the consumate Memphis Musician!" - Bill Ellis - The Commercial Appeal

"Somethin' Else"

Most performers - especially those with something original to say - dislike being compared to another artist. And for good reason. But it's nearly impossible to talk about Charlie Wood without talking about Mose Allison; the thirtysomething Memphis organist shares so much in aesthetics and attitude with the legendary jazz songwriter/pianist that Allison is simply the natural jumpin-off point for any discussion of Wood. Doesn't mean he's a clone - he isn't, by a long shot - but like Allison, Wood is a blues-leaning jazz player who writes keyboard-based tunes with an existential outlook and slylyself-referential lyrics. His instrument of choice is the Hammond B-3, providing splashy solos or prickly rhythmic underpinning depending on each song's needs.

Wood spent a decade and a half playing the King's Palace Cafe on Beale Street, and "Memphis," the centerpiece of "Somethin' Else, is a love/hate letter to the Bluff City that incorporates a twist on Gershwin's "Summertime" to hilarious effect. "Tis' is a barn-burner of a tune that has Wood spitting out words like an auctioneer, while "Pictures in a Book" wraps a psychological horror story in a pretty R&B ribbon. And " Down in the Ground" is as concise a summation of nihilism's double-edged sword as has ever been recorded in song: "I might could get ahead a little bit/If I could bring myself to give a shit/But I cannot see the point of it/When I got to go down in the ground." Throughout the disc there's a sense of maturity, of unified persona, that even Wood's two excellent previous albums of originals lacked. With Wood having recently given up his regular trio gig at King's Palace, it's not as easy to catch him live as in the past, but "Somethin' Else" stands as a sharp, funny, hip testament to his writing and performing prowess.
- Kenneth Bays
- Blues Revue


2006: Lucky (Inside Sounds) - Charlie Wood (Vocals, Hammond B-3, Piano, Clavinet, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Drums, Engineer, Producer, Songwriter, Horn Arrangements)

2006: Continuator - the Gamble Brothers Band (Fender Rhodes, Pre-Production Assistance)

2006: Fried Glass Onions: Memphis Meets the Beatles Vol. 2 (Inside Sounds) - Various Artists
(Guitar, Drums, Hammond B-3, Wurlitzer, Pedal Bass, Vocals, Producer, Engineer)

2005: Somethin' Else - Charlie Wood (Vocals, Hammond B-3, Piano, Clavinet, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Engineer, Producer, Songwriter, Horn Arrangements)

2005: Resting Place - Terry Robb (Piano)

2005: New Born - Calvin Newborn (Hammond B-3)

2005: Fried Glass Onions: Memphis Meets the Beatles Vol. 1 - (Inside Sounds) Various Artists
(Guitar, Drums, Hammond B-3, Wurlitzer, Pedal Bass, Vocals, Producer, Engineer)

2005: Billy Gibson Band - The Billy Gibson Band (Inside Sounds) - (Hammond B-3, Piano, Clavinet, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Backing Vocals, Engineer, Production Assistance)

2005: Art of the Motorcycle: Songs of the Open Road - (Inside Sounds) Various Artists (Hammond B-3, Pedal Bass, Engineer)

2004: Azul - Azul (Hamond B-3, Piano, Fender Rhodes, Clavinet)

2004: Jamie Baker - Jamie Baker (Hammond B-3)

2004: In a Memphis Tone - Billy Gibson (Inside Sounds) - (Hammond B-3, Piano)

2003: Live from Cell Block D - Tracy Nelson (Hammond B-3, Piano)

2003: Neptune's Army - Ed Finney (Engineer)

2002: Pra Sempre - Chris Wells (Hammond B-3, Piano, Fender Rhodes)

2002: R&B-3 - Charlie Wood (Vocals, Hammond B-3, Pedal Bass, Drums, Producer, Engineer)

2001: Instrumental Memphis Music Sampler - (Inside Sounds) - Various Artists (Hammond B-3, Producer)

2001: Go Jazz Artists: the Anniversary Edition - Various Artists (Performer)

2000: Who I Am - Charlie Wood (Vocals, Hammond B-3, Piano, Producer, Songwriter)

2000: Third Verse - Smalltown Poets (Hammond B-3, Accordion)

2000: Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today - Slobberbone (Accordion, Hammond B-3, Toy Piano)

1999: You Can't Win - Mason Ruffner (Piano)

1998: These Modern Nights - Kitchens & Bathrooms (Hammond B-3)

1996: Southbound - Charlie Wood (Vocals, Hammond B-3, Piano, Producer, Songwriter, Horn Arrangements)

1996: Never Never Land - Joseph Patrick Moore (Hammond B-3)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Born in Memphis in 1967, Charlie studied classical piano from an early age and jazz piano in high school and college. He spent 1990 on the road as keyboardist for legendary blues guitarist Albert King, with whom he toured the U.S. and Europe. For over fifteen years the Charlie Wood Trio - consisting of Charlie on piano, Hammond B-3, pedal bass and vocals, Renardo Ward on drums, and Gerard Harris (formerly of Kool and the Gang) on guitar - performed nightly at the King's Palace Café on Beale Street. During their tenure at the Palace such musical luminaries as B.B. King, George Coleman, Joey DeFrancesco, Alvin Batiste, Tony Reedus, Rufus Thomas, Georgie Fame and many others stopped by to sit in and play with the band. On a recent tour in England, Robert Plant joined Charlie onstage to sing five or six of his favorite Memphis R&B classics.
It was during his long residency on Beale St. that Charlie developed and perfected his own unique, jaw-dropping approach to the Hammond organ. Although he makes it all look and sound effortless the technical prowess his style demands prompted one reviewer to describe him as "the Art Tatum of the B-3." The virtuosity and dexterity required make it unlikely that Charlie's style of playing could even be imitated by other players, much less rivaled. Imagine one performer simultaneously doing all of the following: singing, playing great solos with his right hand, providing perfect rhythmic and harmonic accompaniment with his left hand, and walking a solid, hard-swinging bass line on the bass pedals. Throw in a healthy dose of piano and electric piano and an occasional bass solo (with his FEET, no less) and you have an idea of what a Charlie Wood solo performance is like. Just add other musicians to taste and serve hot!
Charlie's work has earned him numerous musical accolades, including the N.A.R.A.S. "Premier Player Award" for Keyboards and the Beale St. Merchants' Association "Entertainer of the Year" award. He has toured as a soloist, with his band and as a band member extensively in Europe and the U.K. Charlie is also an accomplished songwriter with four original CDs under his belt: "Southbound," "Who I Am," "Somethin' Else," and his most recent album on the Memphis-based Inside Sounds label, "Lucky," on which Wood not only sings and plays a variety of keyboards but also performs all the drum, bass and guitar tracks.
Since the beginning of his musical career, Charlie's studio and stage performances have been earning him rave reviews. Publications such as "Blues Review," "Downbeat," and "The New Statesman" have attested to Charlie's gifts as an artist and writer as well as his astounding musicianship. Perhaps William Lee Ellis, a talented musician in his own right (Yellow Dog Records) and the former music reviewer for the local Memphis daily, "The Commercial Appeal," put it best when he began his review of "Southbound" by saying simply that the Hammond B-3 "...has a name in Memphis, and it's Charlie Wood."