In November 2014, The Woolen Men are my favorite live band in Portland*. If you’re not following them, I hope this live record gets you on-board.
I’ll admit, my affection for The Woolen Men is subjective. Upbeat, melodic pop-punk with a strong sense of irony but little sense of angst, the band hits all the music receptors I overdeveloped in my youth. But I’ve also seen enough music in Portland to know how special the band is.
Each member is an excellent performer. Alex Geddes’ dynamic bass lines are consistently some of my favorite in the city. They’re the perfect complement to Lawton Browning’s guitar, allowing the latter to alternate between melody and rhythm. Driven (and I do mean driven) by Raf Spielman’s elemental but effective drumming, and topped by often-harmonized vocals, The Woolen Men unfailingly make me feel positive and cool when I listen to them.
The band’s live sets never fail to deliver and surprise. All three of members are talented songwriters, which gives the band a tremendous catalog to pull from. It often seems as if their set lists pull more from unreleased material than from released, which gives terrific incentive to see them live. Live performance is currently the only way to hear The Woolen Men’s phenomenal Clean Dreams, for example. And, believe me, you’ll want to hear Clean Dreams. You should have opportunity to do so. Despite successful West-coast, East-coast, and European tours, and the favor of Brooklyn Vegan, Woodist, and others, The Woolen Men seem committed to still performing in Portland once or twice per month.
We’re lucky that they do, and I feel lucky to release this live record. Recorded by Tim Shrout and Adam Harney one odd summer afternoon in 2013, mixed rough and dirty (in an entirely great way) by Tim and the band, and mastered by Chris Vita, this live record may be the next best thing to seeing The Woolen Men live. And, I love seeing The Woolen Men live.
The thing I find most surprising about The Woolen Men is that they keep getting better. You can hear it in their earlier live record (released in 2011 and produced by Alex Arrowsmith), this live record, and each time they perform. It makes me terrifically excited to continue to follow them. I hope you’ll follow them along with me.
*With apologies to a dozen other Portland bands whom I love deeply.
The Woolen Men – Live from the Banana Stand was recorded before a live audience on July 13th, 2013 at the Banana Stand in Portland, Oregon. The album was recorded by Tim Shrout and Adam Harney, mixed by Tim Shrout, and mastered by Chris Vita. Dane Brist produced art for the album, which includes original photography Michael McInerney. Videos of The Woolen Men’s performance at Banana Stand feature footage from camera operators Michael McInerney, Darren Hartman, Tyler Bertram and Nick Gattman, and were directed and edited by Michael McInerney. Banana Stand would like to thank The Woolen Men (Lawton, Raf, and Alex), all who participated in this album’s creation and anyone that has helped us out along the way.