Monday, October 20, 2008

the Tree People Centrum Creative Residency

The Tree People, Stephen, Jeff, and Rich, did a Creative Residency at Centrum, an arts
organization at Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Washington in for a week in September of 2008. These Centrum Creative Artist Residencies, which attract artists from all over the world, are perfect for artists to create in a quiet, inspirational setting. Nothing is required or expected from the artists at these residencies, so artists have the opportunity to concentrate on nothing else but their art.

Fort Worden, featured in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman, was created to protect the west coast from attack in the early 20th century (you can now walk on and inside the numerous gun turrets on the grounds and imagine the soldiers on watch), but now is home to a state park, art and educational organizations (such as Centrum), and several college outposts. Musicians now enter the gun turrets to experience the deep and resounding echoes with musical instruments instead of weapons.

We stayed in a wonderful 3 bedroom house on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula and did nothing but play music all week. You can see Rich with his double bass and his stool (which he brings wherever he goes), Jeff with his artist badge that his young daughter made for him especially for the residency, Stephen and Jeff clowning around with a instrument made from a found object that Stephen painted at a previous Centrum residency that he did in 2002 (the other Tree People liked the look of the instrument, but saw no real use for it except as a possible fictional weapon), some photos of the house, the grounds and view from the house, photos of Stephen, Rich and Jeff, and a photo of Jeff's instruments in the house.

After 4 days of rehearsing, refining, and arranging new pieces, we went into Synergy Studio,
a studio on the Centrum grounds, with engineer Neville Pearsall, for two days and recorded a good part (8 pieces) of the music that will be on our our third and new Tree People album.
(We will record a few more pieces of music and mix the final results with engineer Dean Baskerville at Dead Aunt Thelma's Studio in Portland later this year, and then send the completed product to Guerssen Records of Spain, who will release it later in 2009).
On the last night of our residency we went into Port Townsend and did an evening performance for a nice listening audience at the Upstage, a really nice venue.
We would like to thank Lisa and the rest of the staff at Centrum for helping to make this fantastic residency possible, we would like to thank Neville at Synergy Sound for providing a warm, welcoming, and professional atmosphere at the studio, and we would like to thank Mark and his staff at the Upstage for the excellent sound and the warm, welcoming, and professional atmosphere there as well.

This residency will always be remembered by our Tree People trio!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Guerssen Records of Spain to release old and new Tree People albums in 2009!

  We cannot thank Johan and Tiliqua Records of Japan enough
for the beautiful job they did with The Tree People reissue
CD in 2006. Johan's belief in the album and the resulting
positive attention that the album received helped to inspire
the resurrection of the Tree People as a performing and
recording group.
But it didn't look like Tiliqua Records was going to get to
the Human Voices (our album from 1984) reissue for some time,
if at all, so we felt it was time to go with Guerssen, a
wonderful company in Spain, who did the vinyl reissue of The
Tree People
album earlier this year. Guerssen's catalog is a
perfect fit for the Tree People, and I am looking forward to
working with Antoni and the rest of the Guerssen staff on our
next two releases. Guerssen will be reissuing vinyl and CD
editions of Human Voices in early 2009, and will also be
releasing our third and new album (which we are well on the
way to completing!) later in 2009. The Tree People story

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Guerssen Records of Spain vinyl reissue of "The Tree People"

Guerssen Records of Spain has just released the vinyl reissue of our first album, from 1979, The Tree People. This reissue includes an insert that includes photos and artwork that have never been published until now. We are very happy with the work Antoni and his staff at Guerssen Records has done with this. They will also be doing the vinyl and CD reissues of Human Voices, our 1984 album, in early 2009, as well as the vinyl and CD reissues of our new album (which very close to being completed!) later in 2009, and we are looking forward it!
Here is the listing from the Guerssen Records web site:

LP TREE PEOPLE "The Tree People"
Same titled album by Oregon group Tree People has finally reached its deserved status after the excellent CD reissue released by Japanese label Tiliqua a couple years ago. '' Tree People'' is no other than a fantastic piece of hippie acid folk that clearly anticipates today's '' Freak Folk'' movement.

Very clean production, with an Eastern flavour noticeable in many passages and using acoustic guitars, varied percussions and flutes, while the strong vocals of Stephen Cohen finalize the picture. Remastered sound from masters, has insert with rare photos.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Tree People live!

The Tree People, with our current lineup of Stephen Cohen on acoustic guitar and voice; Jeff Stier on recorders, flute, orchestra bells, hand drums and percussion; and Rich Hinrichsen on double bass, are rehearsing regularly and performing live again! We love playing with our new member, double bass player Rich! We are performing material from our first two albums as well as an album's worth of new material. We will update this post regularly with any upcoming scheduled Tree People performances or events.
The Tree People will be recording a live concert at the beautiful Big Red Studio in Corbett, Oregon (15- 2o minutes east of Portland near the Columbia Gorge) on Sunday, July 27th from 2 to 4 PM for a small audience of invited guests.
The Tree People will be then be in concert at the Mud Bay Coffee House in Olympia, Washington on August 10th at 3 PM
Tree People guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and composer Stephen Cohen will be performing all three days at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in Pennsylvania on August 15th, 16th and 17th with his Talk Talk Band and solo as well. When Stephen returns from Philadelphia, The Tree People will perform on Sunday, August 24 at the Arts in Nature Festival at Camp Long in West Seattle.
In September the Tree People will be doing a creative residency at Centrum at Fort Worden, not far from Port Townsend, Washington from September 19th to September 26th. We will be doing nothing but playing music that week, and will be recording more new material at the Synergy Studio on the Centrum grounds, as well as coming into Port Townsend on Wednesday, September 24th to perform live at the Upstage.
We plan to add many more performances and festivals to our schedule in years to come. Please let us know if you know of any festivals that you think the Tree People should consider. We are also interested in doing intimate performances at house concerts. If you have a house with a large living room or patio that could seat 20 to 75 people, and you would like to host a Tree People concert, or if you have a friend who might be interested in hosting such a concert in the Pacific Northwest, California, the Eastern United States, (or for that matter, anywhere in the world!) please let us know (contact Stephen at 503-772-9790 or and we will make it happen!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Denis Mochary, Tree People drummer on "Human Voices" album

Denis Mochary (center) Tree People drummer on Human Voices (1984)

As we wait for Tiliqua Records of Japan to do the CD reissue of Human Voices and for Guerssen Records of Spain to do the vinyl reissue of Human Voices, our thoughts are with Denis Mochary, a drummer who played with the Tree People for a time, and played beautiful, sensitive drum parts on a set of drums shaped like singing trumpets on the songs Thomas, Rain, Rain and Opus II on Human Voices. He also played a soulful, creative part on Sketches, a piece we recorded at the Human Voices sessions but did not include in the original cassette. We will be including Sketches as the last track in the Human Voices reissues and would like to dedicate that piece to Denis. We are moved and honored that we got to know him during that brief time!

I wondered from time to time where Denis was and what he was doing after he left Eugene to return to the East Coast. Sadly, it turns out he passed away in Japan several years ago from kidney cancer. I found out about his death just a few months back when I got an e-mail from his younger brother, who found out about Denis' stint with The Tree People from his daughter, who was googling her uncle and found our Tree People sites. His brother wrote: "He lived in Japan for several years, married to a Japanese gal. He was happy with his life there……and seemed to have found the spiritual component he was always seeking. At least, I like to think of him that way. Anyway, it is a very small world, and I am excited to see that the music you made together lives on in its own way."

Jeff of the Tree People added some thoughts about Denis:

When I think of Denis, I recall kindness and humor. He had that tough guy mug and a big heart. I've got a few photos of a concert we did at one of Eugene's parks. The photos show us on a slightly raised stage with a big, blue Oregon summer sky behind us. Denis is kind of hidden behind those strange horn shaped drums of his - no doubt tapping out some subtle and perfect rhythm. He still lingers in my memory, at least. Jeff Stier

Stephen Cohen's solo guitar piece "No More School" from "The Tree People" on the Numero Group's "Wayfaring Strangers- Guitar Soli" CD

Wayfaring Strangers: Guitar Soli
My solo acoustic guitar piece, "No More School", from "The Tree People" album was included in a wonderful collection of solo acoustic guitar music from the 1960's and 1970's released by the Numero Group of Chicago this year. I am very happy to be included, and I would like this album, which has some beautiful solo guitar pieces by some very good players, even if my piece from the Tree People album wasn't on it. One of the other guitarists on the album, Richard Crandell, who has recently released some very special albums playing mbira (thumb piano) on the Tzadik label, was in Eugene (and still is in Eugene) at the same time we were- we knew Richard and we did a show with Richard Crandell and Bill Bartels in a park in Eugene in the the 1980's- you can see a poster from that show in a previous post on this blog, "The Story of Human Voices, the second Tree People album". But back to the Numero Group album- it contains extensive liner notes on the history of what they call "primitive solo acoustic guitar" along with notes on each artist. If you like solo acoustic guitar, or better yet if you like music, I would recommend "Wayfaring Strangers- Guitar Soli". Here is what the Numero Group had to say about my piece in their extensive liner notes:

Label: Numero Group
Released: January 8, 2008

Stephen Cohen
No More School

“I always have played with my bare hands, and never have used a pick.”

The Newport Folk Festival converted endless hordes to the religion of folk music, and not the least among them was Stephen Cohen, who has spent a lifetime writing songs and living thoughtfully. A native Rhode Islander, he had better access than most to the annual festival, and he drank in every ounce of bent Americana that George Wein and Albert Grossman thought fit for the program.

The acoustic guitar had become the rank and file’s instrument, unrivalled at the time to play and compose with. And although Cohen had basic music training for the trombone, his approach to guitar was idiosyncratic from the beginning, though he sought no formal education for it. His natural inclination was fingerstyle, and because there was no one to lead him in any other direction, he went.

On Cohen’s 1979 debut The Tree People, he played a Gibson B25, acquired as a young man and strapped to his back as he rambled about the country for the lion’s share of the 1970s. The guitar featured one crucial alteration: its factory-standard metal bridge had been expertly replaced with a permanent wooden one. After settling in Eugene, Oregon, Cohen formed an acoustic ensemble also known as The Tree People that focused on instrumental composition and improvisation. They borrowed heavily from the concepts of both American Primitives and British Traditionalists on their two self-produced albums, but “No More School” is clearly an ode to the former, a flurry of fingers and thumb picking and strumming all over the drop D tuning. Issued in a one-time pressing of 1000 copies, the album pierced more than a few ears, allowing the group to become something of a go-to opener for Fahey and Pentangle whenever they rambled through Oregon.

(a note on the notes: we opened for the John Renborn Group, which had many of the original Pentangle members, not the Pentangle in the 1980's in Eugene. Jeff remembers John Renborn exclaming, in a heavy English accent "Tree People!" as we came off the stage after our set.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Tree People a pick in Toronto

Perlichs Picks

A weekly dig through the creates for the stuff you really need to hear

2008/01/16 Now Magazine, Toronto

Tree for all

Whether you call it freak folk, real people psych or new weird American music, the gently trippy self-titled debut from Oregon’s Tree People – recorded in 79 though it sounds like 69 – has risen to the top of the heap of the genre’s collectible artifacts. And once you hear the eerie flute, wistful strumming and entrancing hand percussion on the magnificently packaged reissue from Tiliqua Records, you’ll quickly understand why this fragile masterwork is so revered by connoisseurs of backwoods hippie hijinks. Fans of Espers, MV & EE and Voice of the Seven Woods should investigate.