john weinland
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john weinland

Band Rock Folk


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"John Weinland March 1st at The Doug Fir"

Adam Shearer gets a little help from his friends, as if he needs it.

[INDIE FOLK] John Adam Weinland Shearer is a songwriting force. When he sings, "You're standing in a photograph/It's really good to have you here/Even though you never move" on an early demo of the song "Piles of Clothes," you can feel it. But hearing the bespectacled balladeer sing those same words last Wednesday night at the Doug Fir was different: It was penetrating. Live, as the man fronting the band John Weinland, Shearer cradled the song's poignant lyrics in a haunting atmosphere created by Aaron Pomerantz's chirping mandolin mimicking the melody, keyboardist Alia Farah's backing vocals and the whisper-light, brushed drums of Ian Lyles shuffling in the background.

Though Shearer's lovely folk-pop songs are affecting on John Weinland's simple, self-titled debut recorded in 2003, the four musicians he's playing with these days—Pomerantz, Farah, Lyles and bassist Rory Brown—are helping one of Portland's most gifted singer-songwriters realize his full potential. The fact that JW just finished recording a new album—soon to be released as John Weinland's first "full band" effort—is damn exciting after seeing all they gave last Wednesday.

This is not to say Shearer's songs don't stand on their own. One listen to "In Which Case," from John Weinland, for example, displays his knack for picking an eerie, sorrowful guitar and working his voice into a sweetly troubled rapture. His personal lyrics seep into your psyche and reside there long after his songs have ended. So when Shearer bellows, "Put your eyes back on the road!" over a simple strum on "The Letters" and later tears into a harmonica solo that resides somewhere between crying and screaming, it's Shearer alone, and sometimes that's the way it should be.

But the group he currently plays with has transformed an otherwise impressive solo act into the 10-armed beast of instrumental bliss that is now John Weinland. On the night's closer, "Scene 30," for instance, Brown's bass stepped lightly in the background as Alia Farah's keyboard danced around Shearer's guitar before breaking into the strong, deep chords that launch the chorus: "I am here for now/But maybe not for long."

His humble stage presence is as endearing as the performance is powerful, as he pauses only to say the names of songs and once mention CDs available at the merch table. For those who don't yet have John Weinland, that's pretty exciting, but—thanks to a batch of new songs like "Friends and Family" and the growing dynamic of the band's sound—the real excitement will come when Shearer announces that John Weinland's new album is for sale in back. - Willamette Week

"John Weinland Vinyl Review"


According to his website, local singer/songwriter Weinland recorded his self-titled 12" "in any room that people would let me set up my stuff." He often had to "sneak tracks" after people were asleep, singing and playing quietly to not wake anyone. The resulting effort is a record of beautiful lo-fi intimacy. Clearly a disciple of Nick Drake and Elliott Smith, Weinland plucks lilting guitar chords over tender lyrics of yearning and loss. His voice is hushed, but belies an impressive range. On the album's best song, Scene 30, the chorus is a single line: "I'm here for now, but maybe not for long," fleshed out with perfectly placed piano chimes. Weinland is only selling his album on vinyl because "people actually have relationships with their records," and because "records are neat." You can order it at JUSTIN SANDERS - The Portland Mercury

"John Weinland History and Vinyl Review"


There's history in John Weinland's name, but you'll also hear its echos in the Portland folk-pop band's brilliant music.

BY MARK BAUMGARTEN | mbaumgarten at

First off, John Weinland is a band, not a man. But there's a story here: John Weinland is led by a gentle-voiced singer whose family name is John Weinland. John is his father's name, and Weinland is his mother's maiden name. Since his given name is John Adam Weinland Shearer, the singer has spent his whole life answering to the name Adam Shearer. So the band's name is, and isn't, the same as the singer's.

The history embedded in that name is filled with music. Shearer grew up with a father, John let's call him, who taught guitar lessons in Gardner, Mont. Shearer's mother, Ms. Weinland, of course, has an honest-to-goodness degree in church organ. Years ago, Ms. Weinland moved to Gardner to play organ in a local church, and John wooed her by playing "Lay Lady Lay" under a blanket of stars. Some time after that, the couple moved to Kalispell, had children, and made a strict rule that music would be a part of their family's life. So there were a lot of piano lessons ahead for young Adam.

"They wouldn't let me have a license unless I joined choir," says the 26-year-old Portlander. "I didn't get my license until I was a senior because I wouldn't join choir." No choir at school, but Shearer was schooled at home where music was always around.

So. The man's got old-fashioned chops. But he's also got something else, a history tangled in music, a mix of his home folk life and the two radio stations in town, one country and one classic rock. And as the lead singer of John Weinland, all of that mixed together adds up to a pretty good explanation of what he sounds like.

But before he formed his band, John Weinland, the solo performer, recorded an album called Your Big Best, which few people have heard. If you want a copy, he says he has 50 stashed under his bed.

It's a beautiful record, the songs mostly driven by a patient finger-picked acoustic guitar. But these aren't just folk ballads. With their arrangements, backing vocals and piano parts, these are near-perfect pop songs. When Shearer's autumnal vocals waver in the middle ground, these quiet soulful pop songs show off not just his personal history, but the history of his influences. Here is the Neil Young and Cat Stevens his father played for him, and there is the Elliott Smith and Nick Drake he heard later on, and the jazz chords he learned at Lewis & Clark College. And there might even be a little "Lay Lady Lay" in there somewhere. And then there is his father, playing harmonica in "The Letters," which Shearer recorded in his family's Kalispell living room during an Thanksgiving visit. Like I said, it sounds beautiful.

The album is Shearer's collected history up to the point two years ago when the music hit the microphone. Since then, he has teamed up with Aaron Pomerantz and Rory Brown, who have added Dobro guitar, mandolin, bass and another layer of a whole different musical history.

And Shearer remains hungry for history. "It wasn't like, 'Now let's start a band because that's what you do,'" he says. "It's because I wanted to make the music better, but couldn't do it by myself."

So, you see, he is John Weinland-and he isn't. - Willamette Week

"What the bloggers say"


Rainer Maria.
Damarcus, you were not wrong.

The other night, Rainer Maria put on a brilliant show at the Doug Fir lounge.

The first opening act was a local band called John Weinland. I was very impressed with these guys. They had a very sophisticated Iron & Wine sound, with vocals that seemed like a less whiny variation on Death Cab for Cutie, and very good lyrics. I'll definitely see these guys again if I have the chance. - No real plan: A log of events

"Songwriter's Dream"

"This looks like a songwriter's dream showcase featuring three of the Pacific Northwest's finest fok-pop artists...

... John Weinland fits the bill well with his gentle, lo-fi numbers born of bluegrass and folk roots perfectly suited for phonograph players." - PDX Magazine

"Live Review from the early days"

"Then there's John Weinland, who's another singer/songwriter that has benefited from a full band. Weinland writes catchy, beautiful little tunes that are reminiscent of Nick Drake and His Master Elliott Smith. I've seen him before and enjoyed, but on this night the band had jelled like never before, and had added a terrific keyboardist. It wasn't anything to dance to, but it was just really pleasant to listen to. Weinland has some songs that could be bona fide hits Iron and Wine style, but it's a matter of time I reckon." - Team Tinnitus

"John Weinland Praise"

you may not know it yet, but John Weinland is one of the best things Portland's folk-pop scene has going for it right now. Amid the leagues of singer-songwriters in PDX, John Weinland's Adam Shearer --yeah, John Weinland is the band name-- stands alone in his ability to craft mlodies and lyrics that battle for poignancy. This music has the heart of Neil young, the thoughtfulness of Nick Drake and the beautiful sorrow of Elliot Smith. Damn it, it just makes you feel...not always good, but then that's not always the point, is it? - Willamette Week


Demersville: July 2006

-Recorded at Type Foundry Studios by Adam Selzer (has recorded for Norfolk and Western, M.Ward, The Decemberists, etc.)
-Produced by John Weinland. Co-Produced by Adam Selzer
-Features amazing donated guest appearances by several brilliant Portland Musicians, including Adam Selzer (Norfolk and Western, M.Ward) and Rachel Blumberg (Norfolk and Western, M.Ward, and formerly The Decemberists)

Possible single, "Piles of Clothes," has already started to show up on blog compilations. charted the song in their top 100.
MP3's can be heard at

john weinland vinyl: 2004

-Home recorded and pressed onto vinyl
-4 star review in Portland Mercury
-Called "Brilliant" and said to contain "Near Perfect Pop Songs" by The Willamette Week
-Regular airplay on KABOO radio in Portland
-Charted #5 in Two Louies Magazine for top 10 in Northwest (remained in top ten for several months)



Please see for hi res photos, more mp3s, more reviews, etc...

John Weinland is a band, not a man.

My name is John Adam Weinland Shearer. John is my father's name, and Weinland is my mother's maiden name. I took on this song-writing alias in 2001.

In 2003 I started to sell a self-produced vinyl album of songs that I had recorded in my bedroom. The songs were sort of lonely country songs with rhythm sections built out of drum loops and kitchen utensils. My dad played harmonica on one song. He complained that he was better when he was my age. That record got a 4 star review from our local alternative culture paper, The Portland Mercury. Then randomly 2 years later Portland's largest, and more prestigious, cultural paper, The Willamette Week, contacted me about the album. They found it on the internet... and they listened to it. Their music editor, Mark Baumgarten, wrote a half page about the record in their paper. They said it was brilliant. I felt good.

Then our band played its first midsize-venue show at Portland's Doug Fir Lounge. Because of the article, 250 people showed up on a weeknight for the opening act. A man in a suit handed me a business card, I sold more records that night than I had in 2 years, I met the person who would later record our first full band record (Demersville) and I feel in love with Portland's music community.

In July 2006 we will start to sell our new record, "Demersville," at our shows. This record, was engineered and co-produced by Adam Selzer and mastered by SAE Mastering. The name Demersville comes from home. It is a place that no longer exists, just as the songs on the record are all uniquely about things that no longer exist. I went to Demersville as a child to do crayon rubbings, on wax-paper, of the gravestones in the Demersville Cemetery. The Cemetery is all that is left of what was originally supposed to be our hometown.

Our band is great. We care about our music, our community and the opportunities we are given.

We have shared the stage with Rainer Maria, Ambullet, Norfolk and Western, Small Sails, Tracker, Loch Lomond and many more.

We are:

Adam Shearer - I work for a large nonprofit that serves abused and neglected children
Aaron Pomerantz - I too work for a large nonprofit that serves abused and neglected children
Rory Brown - I work in the service industry and study graphic design
Ian Lyles - I am the Concert Lighting Director for Portland's Crystal Ballroom and do freelance lighting as well
Paul Christenson - I work in ceramics and a classically trained pianist
Alia Farah - I am a classically trained piano and voice teacher