Medeski Martin & Wood bassist grooves upstate
- Last Updated: 10:31 PM, July 25, 2012
- Posted: 10:25 PM, July 18, 2012
When bassist Chris Wood isn’t recording or touring as part of the progressive jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood, he’s recording and touring with the Wood Brothers, a band he formed with his brother, Oliver.
So, it’s a wonder that Wood, 42, found the time to renovate the upstate Saugerties home he bought in the fall of 2000 with his wife, Sirkka.
“We moved up here, got married and Sirkka was pregnant all at the same time,” Wood says. “And we lived in the house during the five months of renovation. It was a challenge . . . the place had been a kind of rooming house, so everything had been closed off and separated into tiny, dark rooms.”
Not to mention decor that hadn’t been touched since the 1960s: shag carpeting, tongue-and-groove pine paneling, ugly wallpaper, ceiling “beams” that were actually made of styrofoam.
So what swayed them to buy the upstate home? “It was our rural fantasy,” Wood says of the 12 1/2-acre forested lot, which boasts vast green lawns, a rock wall, an original barn and a garden. “But it was also in a neighborhood. When the Realtor turned us down the street, it just felt right.”
The couple, who hail from Colorado (they were high-school sweethearts), and who had been living in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens since 1996, jumped at the chance to get back to the land — and to have a place to cook and entertain. They immediately threw themselves into the renovation.
“We quickly tore down the wallpaper and painted one of the bedrooms,” says Sirkka, who digs out a photo album showing the house before and during remodeling. Wood adds, “Then we got a big crowbar and started knocking down drywall. We pulled up the carpet; there were wood floors underneath. We filled a huge dumpster.”
Today, the two-story, 2,000-square-foot home (plus a finished basement that serves as Wood’s music studio/office) bears almost no resemblance to the ramshackle home the couple purchased. In the expansive, open kitchen/dining area and spacious living room, light streams in through the many large windows; double sliding-glass doors open onto a wide back deck overlooking the pastoral landscape.
Upstairs are two bedrooms — including one for their 10-year-old daughter, Nissa, and a full bathroom. Downstairs is a half-bathroom and a guest room that originally was going to be Wood’s studio.
“It’s totally soundproofed,” he says, “so it’s a great place to get a really good night’s sleep.”
Wood isn’t the only one in the family with musical talent. Sirkka plays the piano, and Nissa is skilled at both the trumpet and guitar. They’ll occasionally bang out tunes together in the living room, which is home to a 100-plus-year-old Steinway piano that Sirkka’s mother rescued from a Colorado saloon plus several of Wood’s instruments, including a 1920 German upright bass, a 1963 Fender precision bass and two refurbished guitars.