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Chicago indie folk group The Giving Tree Band is touring the country to promote its newest album The Joke, The Threat and The Obvious. The band will be stopping in Columbia on Monday to play at Mojo's.

Courtesy of The Giving Tree Band

Giving Tree grows interest locally

The Giving Tree Band aims to stand up for the environment.

By Brandon Foster | Oct. 15, 2010

Tags: Environment Music Sustainability

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In "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein, a tree provides the protagonist with everything he requests. For The Giving Tree Band, it's all about returning the favor.

In 2009, the group released Great Possessions, which the Chicago Sun-Times called the "greenest of albums." It was recorded at the carbon-neutral Aldo Leopold Legacy Center while the group camped in a nearby state park and commuted a total of 500 miles per person via bicycle. The CD was then produced and packaged with biodegradable materials, and 10 trees were planted for every 1,000 units moved to offset pollution from distribution.

"We're already very much conservationists in our personal life, and we've had those values instilled in us from childhood," front man Todd Fink said. "So it just made sense to incorporate and integrate environmental activism into everything we do and especially into the business side of things with the band."

The Giving Tree Band even uses eco-friendly instruments, including a slide guitar fashioned from a reclaimed redwood, a bamboo drum kit and recycled instruments upward of 40 years old. The group used these "instreements" to grow a new record, The Joke, The Threat, & The Obvious, released Sept. 21.

"For the most part, the vision behind this album was pretty much creating an album that sounds very much like what the live concert is like now," Fink said.

The band accomplished this by recording the songs as single live tracks with only the vocals overdubbed. Fink said recording like this was more challenging than just layering the tracks but worth the extra effort.

"It sounds more real," he said. "There's a certain energy that's captured in recording when everybody's playing together and feeding off of each other in a positive way."

The band's positive energy translates into a sound as earthy as its business module. Traces of Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson are obvious in The Giving Tree Band's twangy indie-folk. The Joke is the group's first album to feature all eight members, and it boasts a fuller, cultivated sound that has already found success by charting on the Roots Music Report.

"It's pretty cool to have a record charting alongside some of our biggest influences and musical heroes," Fink said.

Todd Fink and his brother Eric founded the band six years ago, and their tight bond has helped bring the band such success.

"It's great because there's so many walls that have been removed in terms of working together and accessing creative possibilities," Fink said. "There's almost a telepathic-type communication that we have because we've been working and living together for so many years."

Fink said the brotherhood has extended to the rest of the band.

"We're all starting to communicate on that level," he said. "I think that's why we're really starting to tap into something unique and special with this band and with the music that we're creating."

The band will show off its new tunes Oct. 18 at Mojo's, the group's third stop at the venue.

"I think people in Columbia really tend to appreciate music, and we've had a great response from the people there," Fink said. "Every time we come, the interest expands and the crowd gets bigger, so we're going to keep coming back."

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