march 2012

giving tree
The Giving Tree Band at the Majestic Theatre in Madison, WI, Feb. 11, 2012, on the night the band added Robert Hunter's 'Brown-Eyed Women' to its set list. Todd Fink (banjo) reports that the song's main character, Gentle Jack Jones, reminded him and his brother Eric of their father. 'We rarely do covers, but this one feels so right to play and sing. Everyone loves having this tune in the set because we can perform it with a full heart. And that's what matters most.' (Photo: B. Clemens

The Giving Tree Band Offers A Personal Take On The Grateful Dead

The website is promoting The Dead Covers Project featuring videos submitted by rising young bands and solo artists performing their versions of Grateful Dead songs. Some of the participating artists include Brandon McCoy ("The Golden Raod (To Unlimited Devotion)"; Nicki Bluhm & The Gamblers ("Deal"); Aaron Gibson ("I Will Take You Home"); and Cubensis ("Sugaree").

This publication heard about the Dead Covers Project from Todd Fink of the Giving Tree Band, which has been a favorite of this publication. The GTB’s contribution to the Dead Covers Project is a soulful treatment of Robert Hunter's "Brown-Eyed Women,” keyed by Eric Fink’s husky, rustic vocal and Philip Roach’s searing electric guitar erupting out of the band’s typically thick, rootsy soundscape.


In an exclusive to, Todd Fink explained the background on the GTB's participation in the project and the close personal connection he and his brother Eric made to the song's main character, Gentle Jack Jones:

"Our contribution to the Dead Covers Project came after deciding to start performing 'Brown-Eyed Women' at our shows. My brother E (Eric Fink) had been sick and bed-ridden for a number of weeks. He decided to study the Grateful Dead more during that time. 'Brown-Eyed Women' was always one of his favorites and he learned that it had never been recorded in the studio but that Robert Hunter had always wanted to. So E thought maybe we could do it. When he mentioned it to me, I immediately thought it was a good idea. E and I both felt like the song was about our own father. Gentle Jack Jones reminded us of our dad, who has lived an extraordinary life. Our father had been in and out of the hospital at that time. I know it was painful for him to be sidelined and strange for us to see him in that condition, and in any other condition other than badass dude. Anyways, the lyrics conjured up these memories of his legendary stories as did the line from the song ‘gone are the days when the ladies said 'please Gentle Jack Jones won't you come on to me.' We rarely do covers but this one feels so right to play and sing. Everyone loves having this tune in the set because we can perform it with a full heart. And that's what matters most.

The Giving Tree Band, ‘Brown-Eyed Women,’ from the Dead Covers Project. Eric Fink, lead vocal.

"We never rehearsed it before performing it. On the way to a show earlier in February we kept a live version of the Dead's 1972 European tour in our van on repeat. Then everyone decided we would attempt it that night. We officially decided to include in our show at the Majestic Theatre in Madison. Shortly after that we recorded it live in our studio at Crooked Creek to capture a little of that energy that flowed from the Dead so naturally. We feel like we put a good Giving Tree spin on it and the addition of banjo and fiddle nicely conjure up some of the old-time imagery of the lyrics. We also filmed it and then Woody (Scott Woods) found out about the Dead Covers Project and we promptly offer up our contribution."

Previous Giving Tree Band coverage:

The Giving Tree Band’s Great Possessions album, reviewed in our October 2009 issue

An interview with the Giving Tree Band about the making of Great Possessions, in our November 2009 issue

Review of the Giving Tree Band’s The Joke, The Threat & The Obvious, in our September 2011 issue

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