Words by: Michael Kaiz
Images by: Brittany Clemens
Last time we talked with The Giving Tree Band, I was invited into their communal home on the
outskirts of Chicago. It's been a busy spring and summer for the band so far highlighted
by several performances opening for Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. The bands got
along so well that The Giving Tree Band has been invited to perform at The Magnetic Zeros'
new festival experience, Big
Top. We had a chance to chat with founding member Todd Fink before
Hard Rock Cafe performance last week.
Michael Kaiz: It's been a while since we caught up over the winter and
have played a quite few festivals on the circuit this year.
Todd Fink: Yes, we've performed at a number of festivals this year. One
that I like
a lot is Romp Festival in Kentucky.
MK: That's the bluegrass festival, right?
TF: It's a bluegrass-based festival. Merle Haggard was one of the
year, (as were the) Carolina Chocolate Drops. It's a nice, eclectic kind of roots music
experience; Leftover Salmon was there (as well). That festival stands out in my mind as a
real fun one. In this festival you'd see a lot of the same instrumentation, and a lot of
bluegrass instrumentation, so there's that connection to bluegrass, but what people were
doing with those instruments varies greatly.
There was a group called The Deadly Gentlemen, they covered a couple of rap songs and they
(inserted) some hip-hop in their music, and they have just straight-ahead bluegrass
instrumentation - a five-piece bluegrass band. And of course The Carolina Chocolate Drops
are out of this world, you know?
MK: So, you guys are heading up to Colorado in a couple weeks. What
about going to Colorado?
TF: It's our first time (there) in a while. We haven't really toured
Colorado for about two years, so it feels like the first time. But this is the first time
where we really get a solid tour through there. We'll be out there for a good amount of
time and playing some great festivals. We're really excited about Four Corners Folk
Festival down in Pagosa Springs, which has John Hiatt and bands like Elephant Revival and
The Lone Bellow. The Lone Bellow is a fun group that seems to be creating a lot of buzz
But to be in the mountains is really what's exciting for us. I feel like that's where good
songs come from - they come from the mountains. So, we'll do a lot of writing and a lot of
playing and try to get some performances out in the mountains to share with people. Our
band in particular is really inspired out in nature. That's where we really get charged
MK: How do you feel that the community of fans in Colorado supports the
festival scene in the state?
TF: Well I think that the people there are fantastic music lovers. I
roots music, and any music where people are playing instruments, is really well-received
there. It's nice. I think artists always feel like it's a homecoming when they're playing
in Colorado. People just feel this great sense of taking their music home to the mountains
MK: After Colorado, what shows do you have that you're particularly
TF: Shoe Fest, it's a nice little family oriented festival with a good
Chicago. There's another festival that we're headlining in Wisconsin called the Jackpine
Jamboree, and we've never seen people get down like they've gotten down in Northern
Wisconsin. It's no holds barred. Good things in Northern Wisconsin are going under the
radar, they're some of the most intense music lovers and music fans up there.
MK: You guys opened up for Edward Sharpe on a run of shows earlier this
was that experience?
TF: That was great. That's one of the highlights of the year and some of
experiences of our career. The shows were sold out in Kalamazoo at the Kalamazoo State
Theater and the Cabooze Outdoor Plaza in Minneapolis. What was really special about those
opening shows for us was that all of the Magnetic Zeros' fans were already there before
our set and really, really, gave us an incredible welcome, to the point where they were
mistaking us for the headliner when we walked out on the stage.
But that's just a testament to the character of the band, The Magnetic Zeros, and the kind
of people that they've inspired into their community of supporters. Off the stage, it was
just a great experience to get to know those guys and to play a little music with them.
They even invited us up on stage at the last show and we got to do a couple songs all
together, which was really magical.
MK: It sounds like it's a really good fit for you guys with them, similar
a receptive fan-base.
TF: I think that's just it. I couldn't say it better, it's just a really
The guys in our band and the people in their band just really got along well. Everybody
has a similar attitude and just positive vibes about them and about traveling together.
There's just a real sense of family that I think you feel and perceive when you're around
either of our bands, so to join up with them just felt right and we're really grateful to
(Zeros' front man) Alex (Ebert) for the opportunity.
MK: Who else do you see out there who's touring right now that have the
sense about them?
TF: I don't know enough bands honestly. Recently I was impressed a band
Soil & The Sun and what they've got going on in terms of the scene in Grand Rapids,
Michigan. It's kind of an indie-folk rock band, you definitely hear influences like Arcade
Fire, similar arrangement and structure to that. There's a husband and wife leading the
group. We did a show with them in Grand Rapids and there were 900 people at the show and
the large part of it was due to the following that they have up in that part of Michigan.
They're real sweet and obviously have a family vibe because they have husband and wife
front people. That's a cool band, I see a lot of good things happening for them right
around the corner.
8/23 Steamboat Springs, CO – Steamboat Springs Free Summer Concert
8/24 Florence, CO – Americana Music & Art Festival
8/25 Parshall, CO – Roots Retreat
8/27 Avon, CO – Agave
8/28 Gunnison, CO – The Last Chance
8/29 Denver, CO – Cervantes' Other Side
8/30 Pagosa Springs, CO – Four Corners Folk Fest
9/1 New Munster, WI – Labor of Love Festival
9/1 Birnamwood, WI – Jackpine Jamboree
9/7 Manteno, IL – Shoe Fest
9/12 Champaign, IL – Cowboy Monkey
9/13 Carbondale, IL – Hangar 9
9/14 Lisle, IL – Depot Days
9/21 Thompson, IL – Melon Days Fall Festival
10/3 Newport, KY – Southgate House Revival
10/4 Bloomington, IL – Six Strings Club
10/5 Des Moines, IA – Wooly's
11/13 Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle
11/14 Nashville, TN – The Basement
11/15 Tupelo, MS – Blue Canoe
11/16 Monroe, LA – Live Oaks Bar & Ballroom