Heralded as a collective favorite of the Phoenix music community, Wooden Indian tugs and grasps a special place in the hearts of its fans.
The band is comprised of anywhere from three to upward of seven musicians: Wally Boudway, Ross Andrews, Patrick Rowland, David Moroney, Tony Patino, Greg Muller and James Hanna.
State Press Magazine was lucky enough to get them all together for what felt like a private show at their rehearsal space in downtown Phoenix. They opted to plug in and play more quietly for a full experience, rather than going acoustic.
After filming their session, they nestled comfortably with a couple of beers and smokes together and discussed the history, style, and concept of Wooden Indian.
Boudway says the music he was writing and recording while in college is what began as Wooden Indian.
The band continues to grow in number and often exchanges members to this day, but started playing shows with a regular set of members about four years ago.
Around the time of Wooden Indian’s formation four years ago, Boudway and Rowland rented a space for recording and rehearsal that they call The Dressing Room, which is named after its former identity as a dressing room for exotic dancers.
Photo by Noemi Gonzalez
“We started renting it before the arts district became what it is now,” Boudway says. “We were sleeping here, rehearsing here, then we met some other musicians who gave us the idea of throwing shows here. It kind of assembled into a haunt for local musicians. It’s kind of a hub for music.”
Moroney says Wooden Indian’s transformation over the years ties into the development of the downtown Phoenix arts district and the local music scene, as well.
He says the music scene just continues to get better.
“It was very segregated in terms of what was going on in Tempe, what was going on in Phoenix, what was going on in Scottsdale and so on and so forth,” he says. “More clubs started popping up, more bands started popping up, and then five years ago, it really hit stride in terms of the clubs and bands and the whole infrastructure for live music in town.”
Eclectic and avant-garde, their mix of afro-beat and psychedelia makes the rhythmically-based sound difficult to categorize. But that’s more than OK – Wooden Indian’s sound varies, making it difficult to neatly box them into a finite genre. Boudway says it’s difficult to describe themselves after everyone has gotten their hands on a song.
“The style, to my mind, is like pairing psychedelic, highly impressionistic and layered sound, the kind of song-writing that you usually only hear on an acoustic guitar,” he says.
Fans who frequent Wooden Indian’s shows at the Lost Leaf dance and sing along to the music. A fan and friend of the band often endearingly describes their style as the sounds of an “underwater music box.”
That sound coupled with their quiet and introspective demeanors converges into a sort of secret, addictive mysticism. Find Wooden Indian at either Crescent Ballroom or the Lost Leaf (they play both venues often), and it becomes apparent why fans hold the band so near and dear to their hearts in this way.SPM Acoustics (Electric!): Wooden Indian's Cupped Palm from The State Press on Vimeo.