Gary David -
vocals, violin and mandolin
Produced and Mixed by Bill Mumy
Lost, But Not Really is available at billmumy.com.
Call me a sentimental fool going through a mid-life crisis and longing for the good old days, but I was genuinely motivated to preserve and share the legacy of Redwood.
The music that Paul Gordon, Gary David and I made together from 1969 through 1974 will always be special to me. I think what makes it unique was for the most part there was an innocence and purity in our songwriting back then that simply cannot be duplicated. Paul and I were born a day apart. We were 15 when Redwood was formed and we were five weeks shy of 21 when it ended. Gary was (and is) ahead of us in the age department by nine months.
All three of us had been writing songs and performing in other teenage bands before we formed Redwood back in 1969, but we each experienced a very prolific writing period during the first three years of the group. After that, once we had become affected by professional show business, we wrote differently. We then wrote with "hooks" in mind and we began consciously crafting songs that we hoped would get us a major record deal, where in the early years of Redwood we simply wrote what we were honestly inspired to write with no thoughts of, "this song needs a bridge", "this lyric is too weird" or "this is too short a section", etc. In the beginning it was truly art for arts sake.
There was a unique blend when the three of us sang in harmony together and I’ve missed that sound in the many years since the band broke up. Redwood was truly a "working band”. We performed live for audiences more than a hundred times in 1971 alone.
Looking back on the group, it was a very eclectic trio. Originally, Paul came from a rock‘n roll background and he was heavily influenced as a kid by the great melodic hits written by Brian Wilson for the Beach Boys. Gary was a classically trained violinist. My musical roots were in folk music. I was especially influenced by the Kingston Trio.
One can definitely hear the influence of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in Redwood material as well as bits that were inspired by James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, John Sebastion and even the country styling of Poco and the "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" era Byrds. Everyone from the Kingston Trio to George Gershwin influenced Redwood. By fusing it all together, I believe that we managed to create a unique sound all our own… a sound we called "Tree Music".
After more than five years of performing, recording and trying to break into the big time, it was Gary who decided to call it quits. He informed Paul and me that he was leaving the group on Christmas day of 1974. The three of us went on to pursue our various projects and Redwood faded into memory.
It took a request from longtime friend and artist Tanya Wolf to get us to reunite a quarter of a century later. Tanya was hosting a party to celebrate her birthday and said that to have Redwood perform for her on that night would be her greatest wish. I was into it, Gary said “yes”, and the sometimes-recalcitrant Paul was also agreeable. It fell together really easily and quickly. We played in Tanya’s studio for her and a group of friends in January of 2000. That night we performed together for the first time in 25 years. The songs we sang were; "We’ve Been Friends", "Denver Thing", "Just Like Old Man River", "Who Believes He Can Fly", "Clearly Much Older" and "Rainy Road". We enjoyed it and so did those in attendance. Afterwards we agreed to get together and play some more with no goals in mind. We started meeting at Paul’s house to casually jam every few months. No recording, just the three of us remembering the old tunes, playing and harmonizing together, making tree music.
I was inspired to re-explore the Redwood songs. I went to my storage space and dug out all the ancient tapes and reel-to-reel recorders, hooked ‘em up in my studio and listened to old Redwood live gigs, home rehearsals and studio recordings. Most the tapes had serious technical problems. I managed to make safety digital dubs of quite a few of them, but some were so brittle they just fell apart before I could even dub them. The sound quality of the old tapes ranged from barely okay to simply awful. Even the large body of work that we recorded in professional recording studios like the Record Plant suffered sonically from decades of antiquity. For the most part, the old tapes were fun for me to listen to and become reacquainted with the songs, but they weren’t sonically worth sharing with others. It was then that I became ambitious.
I believed that Redwood deserved preservation and I suggested we re-record our songs. In the "old days" we used to anxiously wait to go into the recording studio. We would often get "down time" in between other artists sessions. That meant we’d head into a studio around midnight and work until sometime around noon the next day. Fortunately, nowadays Paul and I both have home recording studios and we can record whenever we choose to. I love to play music; it’s truly my number one favorite thing to do. I also happen to have an extensive collection of musical instruments, so for me to lay down Redwood tracks using my many acoustic guitars, basses, banjos, harmonicas, percussion instruments, etc, was fun. We also cut tracks at Paul’s home digital studio.
The roots run deep and I’m pleased to say that Tree Music has indeed been preserved.