Giving Tree Band takes story to heart.
Most of the eight members of the Giving Tree Band, ages 22 to 31, live together in a big house in rural Illinois.
They recorded their third and newest CD, "The Joke, the Threat, & the Obvious," in that house, but it doesn't come out until September. Because you can't get it at Saturday's show, I'm not going to say much about it here, other than to say it's a beautiful Americana album, filled with the layered musicianship that only a band that big can deliver. It's also packed with questions, lessons and truths.
Instead, I want to introduce you to a band from out of town that basically embodies local counterculture values. These ideas don't seem so far out of the mainstream here in Eugene, but are not yet the norm in our nation. The group travels in a biodiesel van and researches each city before arriving there so they can eat local, organic foods.
Even the sharp-looking vests and dress slacks in their promotional photo were handmade from organic cotton by a woman who lives near them.
It's only fitting they would name themselves after the Shel Silverstein children's book, "The Giving Tree," with its message of giving without expectation as the true path to happiness.
The nucleus of the band is brothers Eric and Todd Fink, but Todd Fink said their intention is for the brotherly dynamic to spread to the whole band.
So far it is working. With four songwriters, and musicians with varied backgrounds and expertise, members share the value of always reaching outside of themselves to become better people.
On the way to a gig in Missoula, Mont., the bio-bus pulled over so the group could take in the scenery and snap some photos. They ended up jumping in a lake. It's probably the best reason any musician has ever missed an interview time, and Todd called back within minutes, refreshed.
Because of the band's name, many people have approached him and said how sad they think "The Giving Tree" is, after all, the tree is a stump by the end. But Fink and company have a different read.
"The tree is happy," he said, noting how the tree enjoyed giving himself. "The more I have experimented with living that way, the more fulfilled I feel ... You are able to live more in the present moment, and you focus more on what's possible with whatever you have in the moment. If you are always looking for something, then you are always being taken out of the present moment."
On a recent break, the band volunteered for two weeks at an organic farm in Missouri.
"We are very much focused on what can we do and not giving too much thought about how that will pan out for us," Fink said. "I think that is why this group is so special. I've never been in a group that had so much more to offer other than music."
Their music is not preachy, and most of songs on the new album are about human relationships, much like many of their indie-roots contemporaries. They sound like the less wild cousins of the Avett Brothers, who treat women a tad better.
"I think it's hard to find one other person to vibe off of, and yet somehow it's happened eight times over," Fink says. "We live together, we work together, we travel together and you have to really be able to get along with each other to do that. It seems so magical to me, and so rare, that I know we've got to make the most of whatever time we have together."
This show also features a special acoustic set by the Portland band the Slants, who have had successful WOW Hall shows with their usual synthesizer-heavy dance rock.
The Giving Tree Band
With: The Slants, acoustic
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cozmic Pizza, 199 W. Eighth Ave.