Good luck not tappin’ your foot and bobbin’ your head the moment you hear the good vibes of Reverend Tall Tree. Born out of late night jam seshes in a small saloon in East Los Angeles, Reverend Tall Tree serves up a piping hot helping of smoky rhythm and blues with a swingin’ beat and healthy dose of rocking chair harmonica. It’s a sound that begs to be listened to in the presence of good company and front man Chris Pierce knows just how to set the tone.
Chris is an old friend of the Toads. With a voice like hot buttered rum and a disposition like Southern sweet tea, we knew we liked Chris from day one. We met him back in the early 2000’s on the beach in Venice, CA when we were shooting our first brand video – a mutual friend brought him along to provide some background beach jams and he ended up scoring our theme song, “Everyday is an Adventure” in 15 minutes. He’s represented Toad at various musics festivals and played over the years at the Lizard Lounge in Portland, bringing the spirit of Toad to the stage. He’s hit the road as an accomplished solo act, toured with big names in the biz, and crooned his way through a TedxTalk on the healing power of music. In a nutshell, Chris is one cool dude.
Reverend Tall Tree is Chris’ latest creative endeavor, and naturally we can’t get enough of it. In early 2013, Pierce wandered into the Sassafras Saloon, a new blues bar that opened just a few blocks from his house. Word on the street was the Sassafras was looking for a new house band to kick things off. So with a few old buddies, a dusty harmonica and a songbook of standards, Chris and the gang started performing as Reverend Tall Tree on Saturday nights. The rest, as they say, is history.
With Professor Lovejoy on the drums, Old Parker on guitar, Dr. Cooper on double bass and Pierce himself laying down the vocals and harmonica, Reverend Tall Tree’s self titled debut album is all about good company. “Music is a way to celebrate togetherness,” Pierce says, “a congregation, a connection. It lends itself to inclusion and adds to the overall rhythm.”
And that’s obvious in both their live shows and their studio album. They recorded the LP in the gritty style of the old viynl greats like Bo Diddley and Sam Cooke – one take, no headphones, no individual mics, recorded live to 2” thick tape and mixed on the spot with a 1956 tape machine. Or as Pierce describes, “We let the vibe roll and we let the tape roll.”
When asked what kind of dish Reverend Tall Tree’s music would be, Pierce said, “A Reverend Tall Tree experience is like a pot luck – everyone brings something to share.” So shout, stomp, moan, shuffle, whoop and holler because Reverend Tall Tree is certainly bringin’ something to the table.