Chris Wood

Published on July 7th, 2022

Chris Wood at SunFest

From the day Christopher T. Wood, aka “Woody,” arrived at Palm Beach Atlantic University in downtown West Palm Beach circa 1994, he commanded attention. This enigmatic, skinny twenty-something had a cool factor and a swagger you couldn’t miss as he skateboarded across campus in a Mr. Rogers-styling brown cardigan.

The West Palm Beach music scene would never be the same. The Tampa-raised, self-described Florida “crack-a-lack-ah” — with a beat-up Ibanez guitar he called “Log” slung over his shoulder — quickly assembled a band with classmates Bradley Dickinson on bass and Rob Nieminen on drums, and named the pop-rock trio Double Stack Scoobie. A fourth member, bassist Kevin Campbell, came aboard soon after, with Dickinson moving over to acoustic guitar and backing vocals.

Drawing inspiration from The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Sugar and The Lemonheads, Woody crafted catchy three- and four-chord power-pop songs played live in local venues such as O’Sheas Irish Pub and Respectable Street, and then on the band’s 1996 EP, “Four Laments and a Smile.” Double Stack Scoobie later disbanded and reformed under a new name, Miracle Strip, eventually adding John Stepp (guitar), Todd Harter (bass) and Billy Lamotte (drums) along with a fresh roster of songs and sounds. Honing his craft, Woody began experimenting with various guitars, amps and pedals in search of the perfect tone — a quest that earned him the nickname “Local Edge” after U2’s sound-painting guitarist The Edge.

In the early 2000s, Woody reunited with original mates Dickinson and Nieminen in a new band, eL, led by frontman Jeremy Clark. Wood’s finely made, soaring guitar and infectious hooks pushed the gritty, Britrock-influenced band to new heights. Their slick, self-titled debut album, mixed by Grammy Award-winning sound engineer Charles Dye and production by long-time friend Chris Conner, helped earn them a spot opening for Billy Idol at Sunfest in 2005 on the West Palm waterfront.

In recent years, Woody performed with congregations on the PBA campus at Memorial Presbyterian Church and Providencia West Palm Beach, steps from where he got his start. He formed another trio, The Honeycreepers, with local singer-songwriter Sean Hanley and Legends of Rodeo drummer Jeff Snow, covering the many artists that influenced him. By now a father and husband, this family man continued to write songs and re-record updated favorites from his own catalogue.

Earlier this year, however, Chris fell ill and underwent surgery that revealed a rare and advanced form of appendiceal cancer. He battled back with chemotherapy at University of Miami and passed away on May 21 with his wife Kerrie and sons Aiden and Avery at his side.

“Chris fought like a warrior,” Kerrie wrote afterward on social media. “He was encouraged by the small things and held onto hope.”

Across decades, Wood influenced and collaborated with a broad range of talented songwriters and musicians on recordings and live shows, from nationally known John Ralston of Legends of Rodeo fame to newer generation, PBA-adjacent acts such as The Transient Friends and the Emily Blaylock Band. The latter two brought Wood on stage at Respectables in February for his last live performances.

Referred to as the Elder Statesman of the West Palm Beach music scene by those who knew him best, Woody offered musical direction — often acting more like a producer than a guitarist — and sage advice from a man who lived life to the fullest.

But his biggest contribution to West Palm Beach wasn’t his music — it was himself. Anyone who ever played music with Woody or even just shared a meal with him will tell you he was one of the most authentic, kind and funny people they’d ever met. They’ll tell you how their cheeks and sides ached from grinning and laughter after a night of his ingenious, improvisational slang and irresistible charm.

“Chris was loving, forgiving, loyal, kind, generous, and he never met a stranger,” Kerrie wrote in her heartfelt tribute. “He had his own language and an impeccable ear for music. He was the MOST amazing daddy. He loved his family more than anything.”

It’s a bleaker world without our irreplaceable friend. But we’ll fill the void as much as we can with our memories of Chris, and with his amazing music, until we meet again. ~ Rob Nieminen