WHO: Adam Shearer, Aaron “Rantz” Pomerantz, Rory Brown, Ian Lyles, Paul Christensen.
WHAT: Lush-’n’-thoughtful folk rock.
SOUNDS LIKE: After the Gold Rush-era Neil Young fronting a whiskey-drenched, deep-woods Pickathon gathering.
YEAR FORMED: Born: 2001. Became a band: “2005(ish).”
MOST LIKELY TO BE FOUND: Hanging out with the Portland Cello Project, packing the Doug Fir, or concocting wicked potions like recent coffee-and-Maker’s Mark libation “Weinmark” (brewed by local cellist Justin Kagan, of Badbeard’s MicroRoastery).
VOTER QUOTE: “I voted for Weinland because they are masters of that age-old winning combination: strong songwriting and solid musicianship. I’ve seen this band dozens of times and have yet to witness them put on a show that is less than stellar. They might be the most consistent band in Portland. We’ve been on tour with them for a week now (I just walked offstage, in fact, and am a bit saucy), and no matter where we play, no matter how many or how few people are there, they put on a completely engaging and solid show. Plus, Adam Shearer possesses the gift of the most witty stage banter I’ve ever seen.” —Dave Depper, bassist-about-town (Norfolk & Western, Loch Lomond, Graves, White Hinterland and “whomever needs me to fill in”), studio musician-producer, sometime Hush Records employee.
Weinland is a family name, but it started out as one man. Singer-songwriter Adam Shearer, who originally recorded as John Weinland (a nod to his full name: John Adam Weinland Shearer), says he started writing songs the day he got his first guitar at 15, in rural Montana. “I was immediately in love with playing music and the intense emotional release it provided me,” explains Shearer, who still exorcises quite a few demons in song.
A jovial teddy bear of a man, Shearer’s a smart self-promoter (he quit his job in mental health this past year to focus entirely on music) and quite the joker between songs. But his music can be downright haunting—as well as heartbreaking. On “The Devil in Me” (from this year’s La Lamentor), he sings in his gentle, high-pitched croon: “He knows he’ll always love her/ So he carves it in his arm/ Hoping she will call him and break his fucking heart.” Ouch. But the music’s so lush and lovely that it’s easy to be lulled, despite the oft-biting, personal lyrics.
Rounded out by stringmaster Aaron “Rantz” Pomerantz (mandolin, dobro), bassist Rory Brown, drummer Ian Lyles and keyboardist Paul Christensen—and often joined by local heavy-hitters Rachel Blumberg (percussion, backing vocals) and cellist Doug Jenkins—Weinland’s become something of a Portland folk-rock institution, earning a devoted following and selling out venues like the Doug Fir. Shearer, 29, says the local support alone “fuels the fire beyond belief.”
As for his darker in-song persona, Shearer—who describes the songs on La Lamentor as “all are about how people take care of one another”—explains: “I didn’t have control of my emotions before I discovered songwriting. I honestly believe it saved my life. I love playing and listening to sad songs. It makes me happy. Kind of like how you treat kids with ADD by giving them speed.” If that’s the case: prescription, please.
MEDIA"La Lamentor" at Doug Fir:
"Sick as a Gun" from La Lamentor (Badman Recording Company):
MORE: Weinland heads out on its first East Coast tour May 28; read about past adventures aboard the “Weinlander” in the band’s LocalCut.com tour diaries. Website: http://www.myspace.com/johnweinland