Brighton musician George Woods will be performing “A Modern Dance Rock Concert” at The Oberon on Thursday, March 21. The concert will feature a modern dance production—choreographed by Somerville dance instructor Jen Kuhnberg—performed to Woods’ live debut of his 13-track album, “Heartbeat.”
Woods labels his sound in “Heartbeat” as folk-funk, but he said it’s because he has “mostly given up on describing the damn thing.” He has been described as a cross between Ray LaMontagne and James Morrison, infusing classiness with folk and jazz.
Jen Kuhnberg, the executive director of OnStage Dance Company, found Woods through a flyer he posted looking for a creative partner in producing “A Modern Dance Rock Concert.” She said the first time she heard “Heartbeat,” she was surprised by the quality, style and emotion of Woods’ album. She agreed to choreograph the production, held auditions in late 2012 for the show’s 12 dance roles and is now excited for the debut.
“There’s no dialogue; the storytelling is told through the dancing and live music,” Kuhnberg said. “[The dancers are] a mix of all different sorts of people, which [goes] along with the concept of the story. It’s telling this true story that actually happened with real people.”
Kuhnberg said the production is a mix of contemporary and modern dance with some jazz elements. She choreographed the routines with an in depth understanding of Woods’ creative process for each song, allowing her to capture various emotions conveyed in the music.
“There’re a few different main characters, and you’re sort of rooting for all of them at some point,” Kuhnberg said. “It addresses different issues with relationships, especially romantic relationships. There’s hopefulness, sadness, regret. Sort of all the emotions you go through in any relationship you start and sometimes end.”
Woods, a Berklee alumnus, learned to play guitar at the age of 5 from his father. He said he grew up playing jazz guitar duets, and then started writing songs in high school and never stopped. In 2008 he won the Boston Music Festival with his band, Birds in the Woods. After the group dissolved, he began working on solo projects. “Heartbeat,” tells the story of his own experience with heartbreak and love. He said that he has found many people relate to the music and the narrative it shares.
“If there’s anything that doing this has taught me, it’s that the heart kind of has its own thing in mind. It’s not like you have a whole lot of say in why and who you fall in love with,” Woods said. “Sometimes people come into your life as a catalyst to help show you the right way to go.”
Both Woods and Kuhnberg agree that with the live, 6-piece band, dancing and Oberon venue their production offers a unique experience for the audience. Woods said that music is the only way he has found to connect with people and have them experience his life with him, hitting the fundamental, core base of human experience. He is excited for the debut of this production, the result of a two-year journey filled with searching, healing, dancing and singing.
“It’s funny, man; I’m blessedly cursed in being able to write these lyrics,” Woods said. “It’s not like it’s my choice, that I have to sit down and write a song. It’s like this song has to write me and I’ve become okay with it.”
“A Modern Dance Rock Concert” will show at The Oberon in Cambridge on Thursday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. For information about tickets, Woods or to sample his music, visit his website.