HEARTS OF OAK – Songwriter Nate Wallace speaks with Portland Notes


Nate Wallace has been writing original music since he started “late in the game” at the ripe old age of twenty-four. He has so far, been the creative force behind the lyrics and melodies of Hearts of Oak, a Portland-based psychedelic country band. However, as the band continues to hone their already unique sound, Wallace is encouraged to realize that other band members are contributing more and more to the writing process. The new album they are currently working on will reflect this collaborative style, and is hopefully to be released late 2016.

Hearts-Of-Oak-at-The-Deer-Lodge-in-May-2016-01Rehearsing and recording at The Deer Lodge under the label of the same name, Wallace and his bandmates build personal relationships as they work together. Wallace used to focus more on typical country and folk instrumentals, but together, the band have now created a new, evolved style that translates well to me as “intentional wandering.” The band crosses genres in each song from country to psychedelic rock to folk easily with ease, relying on their skill and musical connection to blend it all together. In live performance, this flexible and adaptive instrumental style allows the band to adjust to every audience, extending solos, adding additional bridges – responding to the room and allowing them to follow the path the music itself is directing.

Wallace walked me through his musical mentors – his dad introduced him to some great music, which he returned to after his teenaged hair metal years. He found inspiration with Traveling Wilburys, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. A favorite songwriter who means a lot to him, and has been a great influence recently is Jason Molina from Magnolia Electric Company. The band give each other credit for inspiration – this is a group of people who truly respect and value each other as musicians and friends, as you will hear in the interview.

Hearts-Of-Oak-at-The-Deer-Lodge-in-May-2016-02With Nate Wallace (vocals/guitar), Ezra Meredith (electric guitar/vocals), Aron Christensen (bass) Barry Walker (pedal steel), and J. Leaver (drums/harp), Hearts of Oak has many options to vary their sound from song to song. There is a consistent Americana sound throughout, with raw, honest vocals presenting heartfelt lyrics and melodies. The addition of fuzzy toned electric guitar and eerie bends create a psychedelic atmosphere that brings the listener back several decades in time. It’s a great experience, even without the mushrooms! This is a group of people who truly respect and value each other as musicians and friends, as you will hear in the interview.

Check out the audio interview with Wallace, recorded at Hearts of Oak’s label house/recording studio – The Deer Lodge. Please enjoy the link to their YouTube video “Used to it Now” Special thanks to Alex Steininger of In Music We Trust, for bringing this inspiring group of musicians to our attention.


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