Ed Tree

Band: The Bum Steers, Spencer Davis Group

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

www.spencer-davis-group.com/BioTree.shtml

Products Used

bio

With over 30 years of experience as a producer, engineer, guitarist and songwriter, one can truly say that Edward Treeworking is woven into the Los Angeles area music community. He has produced more than 80 CDs in the Americana, AAA, Blues, Folk, and Country categories, including two top five Billboard Blues Chart CDs, 2 #1 singles on the European Country Charts, and winning a DIY Producer of the Year award for Amilia Spicer’s “Seamless”. He has recorded and/or toured with Spencer Davis, Rita Coolidge, Juice Newton, Al Stewart, Dusty Springfield and Booker T. Jones as well as sharing the stage with Jimmy Buffet, Aaron Neville and Bonnie Bramlett. He also played on the Grand Ole Opry with his band The Bum Steers.

what he says

"I have two different pedal boards and on one of them I A/B’ed two of the Big Joe pedals up against a variety of other things but when I heard the Saturated and B-404 and they had knocked off the ones I’d been using for years, and they didn’t come off lightly. I love the responsiveness. First of all the Vintage Tube has a really nice transparency, it really sounds like my guitar and my amplifier. It doesn’t sound like I’ve changed the setup. It’s also very reactive to touch so if I pick harder, it will respond to what I’m doing and that’s a huge selling point to me, it’s part of the artistic chain now. And with the Saturated Tube, it gives me something very different that I can manipulate. I did a blues gig a month ago and had two people come up to me and asked “what are you using, that thing is great!” and they were two really good players so I’m sure they walked away wanting to get that sound and put it on their pedal boards."

a word with the man


You are multi-talented and have dabbled in various aspects of music making, which hat do you like wearing the most?

I think they all support each other. When I started in music I was really drawn to guitar from the age of 5, early on I started writing songs. When I moved to Los Angeles in the mid-70’s I really came out here as a songwriter and had some songwriters published and recorded by other artists and I wasn’t thinking at that point about being an artist or studio or touring guitarists. One of the first things that happened was I got a call to play guitar in someone else’s session, so I started doing studio work then and really liked it. I was really interested in the recording aspect, watched engineers and found a mentor that helped me with my recording technique and became a recording engineer. All of those jobs are involved in songcraft and producing and have all helped me be a better musician. 

Were there any unexpected successes from songs you’ve worked on?

(laughs) Well there was a song from an artist named Brad Colerick. The second record of his that I produced, he was so proud of this one song and thought I was going to go “man that’s the best song you ever wrote”. And I looked at him and said “it’s...close”. I told him what wasn’t right about it and I contributed to the song and fixed some things and he got me on as a co-writer so he was a little disappointed that I didn’t like it but was very happy with the result. And then a radio DJ said that if she had to leave this life and get to take one song with her it would be ‘Juarez’ by Brad Colerick so I guess that’s was kind of a success. 

What have been your most successful producing and songwriting ventures?

I had early on a song that was recorded by an artist who was a TV star at the time, John Schneider. Same song was recorded by a country group and got into the top 40’s which was good. Writing an album with Spencer Davis was a fun project, the record is called So Far and it came out of a conversation I had with him about how he started in music and by the end of that conversation I wrote down 10 songs and told him “here’s your new record”. I also wrote instrumental music for a music library. I write the songs and they come up with placements and it’s been really surprising how many of them have been placed on TV shows like a Sandra Bullock biography and Gwenyth Paltrow songs and history channel and even on a cooking show. There was a song I did recently and I titled it “Crashing Nancy’s Car” and there was nothing in my personal experience that led to it but it wound up getting used on a TV show in Romania so you never know what happens when you make these things up. Not sure if you’ve seen the show “Good Christian Belles” on ABC but I’ve been in a band for years called the Bum Steers, and a song from our new record wound up on that show too.

Who have you hit the road with?

I’ve traveled the world with Spencer David, Rita Coolidge, Al Stewart, Juice Newton, I’ve done shows on stage with Jimmy Buffet never in his band but did a record with the backup guys in his band, and did a show in New Orleans where the lead singers were Jimmy Buffet, Rita Coolidge and Aaron Nevel. I toured with Rita for four and a half years, played with Spencer on and off since 1982.

If you had to choose between producing records and playing live?

It would be producing because I love starting with nothing and ending up with a product. I definitely have a hierarchy in the studio, you gotta start with a song and then get a musician to support that song. It’s been amazing to work and play with the musicians in Los Angeles and cast them for specific songs. Whether the artist is new or more established, the musicians that come in play the same way for Eric Clapton that they’re going to play for a new artist so it’s really great to see the pride in their work. They want to lend their talent to any production they’re part of.

What observations have you made in the evolution of blues music in the last decade?

(laughs) Well there are volumes written on that subject. I grew up in Mississippi, home of the blues, and I was fortunate enough to hear some of the very early blues guys and see them close up and when you listen to that raw energy that’s there, that’s what I think is exciting and what attracted a generation of musicians to that music. Certainly being a white middle-class boomer kid you can’t authentically be a Delta blues guy, because that’s just not your experience, not your life. But I think the power and  energy of that music is just so exciting and attractive so when it moves from Delta blues to someone like Muddy Waters who electrified that music, to the English guys who were the first ones to grab a hold of it like John Mayal and Alexis Corner and Spencer Davis and the Rolling Stones, and then American musicians hear it and starte emulating the guys that were emulating the great American blues musicians, that was a whole other generation of people that got into this music and it's gone full circle and reincarnated almost. Then you’ve got the Kenny Wayne Sheppards and the Johnny Langs and the Joe Bonnamassa, so it’s a great form that can morph and be exciting and encorporate rock’n’roll and technology but at its basis its still the same raw energy that started with the Delta blues guys.

What do you think about its current state?

It can never be, nor should it be what it was back then. There are some artists that really love that and still do replicate sounds from back then, but there was a time and place where that stuff was created. I don’t think there’s anything bad about that but I’m definitely more interested in somebody taking influence from it, like Luther Dickinson, the former guitarist from the Black Crowes, whose dad was a producer out of Memphis. He’s a new guy and he’s making new music, and he’s not saying “let me do Sunhouse” because Sunhouse did its thing. I think that early Muddy Waters was incredible, it’s my favourite electric blues stuff but I certainly wouldn’t try to recreate him on a new record. It’s all about mixing it in with something else.

You mentioned to me that you like hiking in Utah. Is there a connection between nature and your music?


It lets me slow down and just be. I think it’s all part of the person. Music, and even guitar soloing, when you take an instrument and learn how to communicate with it, definitely ties in oddly enough with gear. When I’m playing guitar in any context, tone is so important to me. If I don’t have a tone that matches the mood, then it feels like I’m just searching and it’s hard for me to be expressive. I think it’s all part of you, tone, or sensuality, nature or spirituality so when you operate that instrument it all comes through. People listen to music to feel something, to feel a connection and communication instead of being impressed by it being technically advanced, that's what's so great about it, it's all about finding that feeling. 

I Can’t Find You Anywhere

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