Giving Tree Band: Serving the Song and the Earth at the Sunset Concerts

Giving Tree Band: Serving the Song and the Earth at the Sunset Concerts
T.J. Jones

The Giving Tree Band will bring their bluegrass stylings to the 2010 Sunset Concert Series Thursday, July 8 at Turley Park. Based in Yorkville, Illinois, the Giving Tree Band is fronted by brothers Todd and Eric Fink, who have intertwined their love of bluegrass ballads with a strong, responsible, environmentally conscious way of life.   After their old bands weren't reflecting their own values, the Finks began the Giving Tree Band. Raised by eco-conscious parents, their father a conservationist, the Fink brothers wanted to express and perform their music in the same way they live their regular lives. In doing so they have become the real deal. In a crude way to say it, the Giving Tree Band are the kind of tree-huggers who actually walk the walk.   With the release of 2007's Unified Folk Theory, the Giving Tree Band introduced themselves as a youthful and vibrant group of roots musicians whose keen ear and musicianship is audibly wiser than their years. Forgoing newer takes on classic songs, the Giving Tree Band perform deftly written and played original tunes. Last year's Great Possessions was recorded at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo, Wisconsin, an endeavor powered entirely by solar energy, leading the Giving Tree Band to be labeled as the world's greenest band. The tag is a mixed blessing for Todd Fink.   "It's kind of funny," Todd says. "We never did those things for any kind of recognition. We just did them because we wouldn't feel right not doing them. That's the life I've been living since I was a young kid. It feels awkward sometimes to be recognized for doing something the way I think it should be done. I understand that not everybody does things the way we do. We just try to make our music with as much appreciation for nature, with as much respect for nature, as we can. But at the end of the day, I am an artist. I am not an environmentalist as a career. Art is the most important thing for me and the band."   One of the more surprising opportunities for the Giving Tree Band has to be the band's recent performance for Fox News in their Saint Louis studios. For a comedy network-- I mean, news channel-- where the most famous pundits confuse words like "giving" and "sharing" with "Communism," it's somewhat surreal to find the Giving Tree Band on the Fox dial.   "Environmentalism is extremely important to me, but politics is not," says Todd. "Issues are important to us, but we really don't get involved with politics at all. We strictly live the values we believe in, and if we turned down the offer to perform on Fox [News] because we don't want the support of their organization as a whole, we would be definitely cutting ourselves off from people, and I don't think necessarily [it would be] for the right reasons."   Todd also compared the band's visit to Fox News with the fact that while none of the band members drink alcohol, they love playing for fans in bars and pubs because they realize many of their fans like to enjoy the Giving Tree Band that way.   "We respect that there are differences between people," says Todd. "We make it very clear what we're all about, and [we] let people get into [the band's eco-values] if they are interested. Some people just buy our CDs and have a good time, and some fans enjoy our philosophy and vision behind [our] music."   The band has literally been coast to coast since February in a year that Todd says has been the busiest in the band's three-year history. Not surprisingly, the band loves playing out west and enjoys travelling through national parks.   After performing in Carbondale, the band will play Chicago's Millennium Park, and will release a new album on September 21. It's been a short ride so far for Todd and his band, but they plan to keep on truckin', and hope to release a new album nearly every year.   "We've learned to bring more maturity to the songwriting process," says Todd. "We've really sublimated our egos as much as possible for the sake of the song. I think that more than ever before, we're serving the song. In music, I think there's a tendency to strive for your own voice and individuality. There's nothing wrong with that, but with the Giving Tree Band, it's a band first and foremost. There's no one songwriter, no one leader. It's a collective, and very much a family."   Learn more at .   who: Giving Tree Band what: Sunset Concert Series (bluegrass) where: Turley Park Gazebo when: Thursday, July 8