But after they each graduated high school and left their native Colorado, their paths wildly diverged, with Oliver moving to Atlanta, playing guitar for blues musician Tinsley Ellis and forming the blues-rock band King Johnson, and Chris moving to New York and starting the seminal contemporary jazz group Medeski Martin & Wood. It would take nearly 15 years for them to play together again, and for the Wood Brothers to form.
“Life gets so busy, and we grew apart,” Oliver says. “We were not very close for several years. The Wood Brothers project was really what brought us back together.”
That project, now a trio with the addition of drummer Jano Rix, will stop by Variety Playhouse this Friday to promote its 2013 album “The Muse,” recorded on Zac Brown Band’s Southern Ground record label.
The band, which has now been together for about a decade, came together after one fortuitous night when King Johnson opened for Medeski Martin & Wood in North Carolina. Oliver sat in on a song with his brother’s band, and by the end, they knew they had to play together again.
“It was so fun and so natural, and Chris and I just felt like we were looking at ourselves in the mirror,” Oliver said. Soon, the pair was playing and writing together regularly. A record deal soon followed, and they each took time away from their other musical endeavors to focus on the Wood Brothers.
The pair managed to tour and record four studio albums and three live albums while living in different states, but recently decided it would be easier to share a home base. Oliver moved to Nashville, Tenn., from Atlanta in 2012, and Chris followed from New York last year.
Oliver says the move has made the collaborative process more efficient — and fun.
“On the music side of things, we can work on things in each other’s living rooms, and we don’t have to feel rushed or pressured. We can just work together whenever we want to. On a personal level, we get to hang out.”
That hanging out also includes the Woods’ families, including one daughter for Chris and two kids for Oliver. The children are all musically inclined and sometimes create music together. The brothers who spent a decade and a half living completely different lives are now watching their kids grow up together.
In some ways, the situation works precisely because of the time the brothers spent apart, Oliver says.
“We got together after already having formed our personalities. We took the ego out of it, and now we can just enjoy it.”