Chris Otepka: Live From the Banana Stand

Recorded in a Portland basement in late spring (in the early part of a nine-month tour), Chris Otepka’s (aka. The Heligoats) live album is a perfect example of what makes Chris one of the most compelling songwriters not only in Bellingham, but nationally.

The bulk of the songs on this untitled live recording are from Goodness Gracious, Chri’s critically acclaimed album (it was on NPR’s top 10 list for 2011), all stripped away of the band sound with just Chris and his guitar. It’s Chris at his best, showcasing what an extraordinary songwriter and performer he is.

But the album isn’t just Chris and a guitar and that’s part of what makes it so interesting and so much fun to listen to. One of Chris’s best traits as a live performer is his story telling ability when he isn’t singing – Chris reminds you of your goofy friend at the bar who tells the best stories. He animated, funny, self deprecating and incredibly engaging. Throughout the live recording, Chris tells stories about himself – such as writing a will and figuring out what to do with the pieces of metal he has in his body (the story is called “My Life As a Robot” and it opens the album).

If you’ve caught Chris’s performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Series, the album is basically a longer version of that. And it’s just as amazing. See