Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Tree People have a new Facebook page

The Tree People have a new Facebook page:

Listen to some music of the Tree People and see Stephen's story and the story of the Tree People at Stephen Cohen's new website

listen to some music of the Tree People on Stephen Cohen's new website and hear some of Stephen's other music as well at
see Stephen's story and the story of the of the Tree People and hear more of the music of the Tree People and Stephen's other music at

Sunday, March 29, 2015

"Thomas" from the Tree People album on YouTube

Listen to Thomas from the Tree People Human Voices album from 1984 (and reissued in 2009 by Guerssen Records of Spain) on YouTube.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

"No More School" from the 1st album, "The Tree People" is on "12 Miles North" movie soundtrack

Just when we think the Tree People story has come to a close, something new happens: Stephen's acoustic guitar piece "No More School" (which was on the first album "The Tree People" and then was included on the Numero Group's acoustic guitar compilation album "Guitar Soli") is part of the soundtrack of the movie "12 Miles North". You can hear "No More School" at the 18:54 to 20:14 and 24:00 to 25:14 minute marks in the movie. "12 Miles North is a very moving documentary about Nick Gabaldon, a ground breaking black surfer who would paddle his surfboard 12 miles north from Santa Monica to surf the Malibu waves.
12 Miles North:

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The first Tree People album gets a few pages in the book "Folk & Revival"

 The first Tree People album gets a few pages in a wonderful new book about folk music by French authors
Bruno Meillier and Philippe Robert. It is nice to see us remembered in print!

Special thanks to my friend in France, Jaak, who translated the Tree People pages in the book from French to English for me. Here it is:.


An Anglo-Saxon stroll

The Tree People – The Tree People (Tiliqua 1979)

In the music of The Tree People, a band founded in Eugene (Oregon) in 1977, there are echoes of that obscure era straddling the seventies and eighties (of the 20th century), that dark age in the grand history of folk music. Either as precursors of the renaissance of the acid folk scene that would take place 2 decades later (the lunar melodies present here are a prequel to those that would well up later on in acts such as Vetiver, Espers or Joanna Newsom), or as distant echoes of those good old hippie vibrations of 1967, the nine tracks of this eponymous self-produced first album conjure up an overall timeless impression. With the help of flutist/percussionist Jeff Stier and flutist Rachel Laderman, Stephen Cohen put himself to the task of translating the then present moment into sound. James Thornbury, who would go on to play bass in Canned Heat, joined the three of them deep in the woods, in a recording studio chosen especially to get as far away as possible from the commotion of civilization. The sound, very much akin to the one typical for some Canadian progressive folk combos, is characterized by an introspective Americana-like pace owing to the ethereal sound frequencies (guitars, transversal flute, recorder and xylophone), and makes the listener comfortable like when he were witnessing a ruby red and honey colored  sunset. ‘Pot Of Gold’, out of an ever swelling cymbal sound and loose guitar picking supporting a comforting and hearty vocal, creeps in in a heady kind of way. The instrumental tracks ‘Opus’ and ‘Space Heater’, aside from marrying raga and blues born out of a series of glissandi and sitar-like strung chords, partake of a delicacy made of subtle harmonies, with the bongos and triangle tinkling acting as beacons for the powerful moments. In the background two flutes, cautious and restrained, are present in counterpoint. Then, after a melancholic guitar solo in the best of west coast traditions (Takoma scene and Ali Akbar Khan merged into one), the album ends with a return to the slide mode owing to the gripping modernity of ‘Bring In The Water’, in which Stephen Cohen words the need for a return to the soil so dearly chanted by many a neo-rural at the end of this first decade of the 21st Century: “… bring in the water, chop the wood, if [we] only could”. In 2007, following the reissue of their first two albums that were released shortly before the band split up in the mid-eighties, The Tree People reformed, with Stephen Cohen and Jeff Stier indulging in the recording of a third album with a limpid and clear sound the prince’s kiss brings back to life after a twenty-six year long profound sleep.

Recommended listening:
Human Voices (1984), It’s My Story (2010)

More recommended listening:
Stephen Cohen & Rich Hinrichsen, The Walking Willows, Connivence, L’Engoulevent, Les Karrik, Ptarmigan, Van Morrison

Folk & Renouveau : une balade anglo-saxonne

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Tree People interview with Stephen Cohen in "It's Psychedelic Baby" Magazine

Here is a nice interview in It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine:

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Tree People interview with Stephen Cohen


1. Thank you for taking your time to do this interview about The Tree People! First I have to ask you about your childhood and teen years. Where did you grow up and what were some of your influences?

I grew up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in the United States. I taught myself how to play guitar at the age of 14 and soon was composing music and writing songs. Just exploring the six strings and the many frets of the guitar was, and still is, where it all starts for me.         As a teenager I went to the Newport Folk Festival and saw all kinds of wonderful performances there. I listened to all kinds of recorded music, everything from folk, to rock, to jazz, to classical. I attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts for 3 years and saw all kinds of wonderful local performers and bands fill the small Brandeis University Coffeehouse with some great music. But I have to say my biggest influence was, and still is, all the emotions and surprises found in daily life.

2. Were you in any bands before forming The Tree People? Any releases from then?

I left Brandeis University after 3 years to travel, guitar in hand, across the United States, hitchhiking, living in several “hippy” communes, and having all kinds of adventures, until settling in and around Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I performed solo regularly at several restaurants. No album releases from that time.
The Tree People, recorded in Eugene, Oregon soon after I moved there, was my first full length album release.

3. Why the name The Tree People?

Once sitting under a tree in New Mexico, I got the inspiration to write a short, illustrated children’s book called the Tree People, and the name for the group came from that book.
I never published the book, and I have no copies of the book, just a few of the illustrations.

4. So how did you guys came together to form the band?

I performed regularly at a place in Eugene, Oregon called the Homefried Truckstop, a coffeehouse and restaurant close to the University of Oregon that had live music 7 days a week and was quite a local hangout for musicians and music lovers at that time. I saw a wonderful musician playing recorder and percussion there a few times with several different folk bands and felt what he was doing would work well with my music. When I saw him at one of my performances, I asked him if was interested in playing music with me. His name was Jeff Stier. He had a friend, a classical flautist named Rachel Laderman, who starting rehearsing and performing with us, and the original Tree People ensemble was in place. 

5. In 1979 you released your debut. I would like if you could share a whole story about the LP. What are some of the strongest memories from recording and producing this LP?

My debut album, The Tree People, was recorded in a studio in the woods outside of Eugene, Oregon called Rockin’ A Ranch. It was all done in a single weekend with most everything recorded live and in one or two takes, with me on acoustic guitar and voice, Jeff Stier on recorders and percussion, Rachel Laderman on flute on a few pieces, and James Thornbury (a local blues musician at the time who later toured internationally with Canned Heat and now lives in Austrulia) sitting in on electric bass on a few pieces and on slide guitar and back-up vocals on Bring in the Water.
    My strongest memories from that weekend were the bond I felt with the other musicians and the studio owner/engineer while making the music, and the feeling that being in a studio was home for me. And when the engineer’s wife brought us some fresh baked cookies during a break I knew for sure we were in the right place. 

Where did you record it?

Rocking’ A Ranch in Greenleaf, Oregon.

What can you say about the cover artwork?

The cover artwork was the cover of the Tree People storybook that I mentioned above.
I drew it after napping under that tree in New Mexico and imagining what the Tree People might look like. 

This was a private release, right? What more can you tell me and how many copies were made?

1,000 vinyl copies were made. We sold most of them in Eugene, at local stores and at live performances.

6. Did you play any shows?

We played just about everywhere you could possibly play in Eugene: at coffeehouses, University events, at festivals, and in concerts at art galleries and small concert halls. . 

7. A few years later you released another album called Human Voices and a year or so ago you released a new album called It's My Story, which is really amazing! In the meantime you had a solo carrier and you released four albums from 1995 to 2006. Would you like to tell me about this period of your carrier?

Soon after Human Voices was released (another private release, this time released only as a cassette with 300 copies, all sold in Eugene), Jeff moved to Washington, D.C. to work in politics and that phase of the Tree People story came to an end. 

I continued composing music, writing songs, performing and recording and also started making my own original sculptural percussion instruments, which I used in my performances and recordings along with my guitar and voice. I moved to Portland, Oregon in 1996 and did many performances there and also performed in concert and at festivals across the United States. I also did workshops and residencies at schools and museums and recorded several albums, including a children’s album called Here Come the Band (suitable for adults as well!). 

8. What are some of your future plans?

I am now performing and recording with Rich Hinrichsen, the double bassist who played on the 3rd and last Tree People album, It’s My Story, and we are now called THE WALKING WILLOWS (you might say an offshoot of the Tree People). Future plans include a releasing a new album by the WALKING WILLOWS, and producing and creating some creative videos of some of our new songs to put up on the web.
I am also working on a project called the Cistern Symphony, where I am putting music, photos and video created in a cavernous Cistern with incredible echoes together into a multimedia website.
But most of all, I just plan to create, perform and record music for as long as I can. 

9. How do you like Guerssen re-release of your albums?

Antoni and his staff at Guerssen did a fantastic job with our albums and it was a pleasure and honor to work with Guerssen. I have nothing but good things to say about Guerssen!
A highlight was going to Spain to perform at the Musique Disperses Festival (a festival that Antoni and Guerssen Records produce) this year!

10. Thanks for your time, would you like to add something else, perhaps?

Thank you for your time. Music is a great form of communication. I am always happy when my music can reach some far corner of the world from my little corner of the world. 

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
© Copyright 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pop Matters review of the Tree People "It's My Story" album

cover art

The Tree People

It's My Story

(Guerssen; US: 31 Aug 2010; UK: 21 Jul 2010)

Known as Oregon’s forefathers of freak folk, the Tree People were recording songs of heady, rustic psychedelia in an era when skinny ties and synthesizers were the prominent means of creative expression. The trio already has a pair of mellow masterpieces under its belt in its eponymous 1979 debut and the 1983 follow-up, Human Voices. Now, after a three-decade break from action, the tree men return with It’s My Story, 12 new songs for acoustic guitar, bass, recorder, flute and percussion that fit perfectly into the mood of the modern-day freakscene made famous by the likes of Vetiver, Wooden Wand and Six Organs of Admittance. The album also pays homage to the English Canterbury movement that gave us Fairport Convention and Pentangle. Highlights include the cheeky “More Than Yoko” and a new version of their classic song “Space Heater”.