Cornmeal and The Giving Tree Band have a lot in common. They're both from Chicago, both play bluegrass/folk music, and both even have a set of brothers in the band. When I asked Wavy Dave Burlingame of Cornmeal what he thought of the greenest band in the land opening up for them at House of Blues on 4-16-2011, he said, “I can think of no better opener for our crowd. They could use some of the Giving Tree Band’s direction.” We set how to find how green folks can be because there is always one item on the list of being green that escapes even the most conscientious of us.
The Giving Tree Band opened up the show with the unity of a band that lives and plays together at Crooked Creek Studios. The band can easily cross off all 16 items on our “How Green Are You?” list that includes:
1. Turn off the water while you brush / displace water with a brick in the toilet tank
2. Bike instead of driving
3. Stop junk mail
4. Drink tap water/ carry a reusable water container
5. Unplug unused electronics / shut off your cell phone
6. Recycle everything possible in your home
7. Use CFLs
8. Repurpose found or unneeded items
9. Fix leaks / use a low flow showerhead
11. Buy local organic foods
12. Turn off unneeded lights
13. Thermostat regulation (68- in winter 76+ in summer)
14. Carpool / public transportation
15. Reuse shopping bags
16. Shop eco-friendly
Their current album The Joke, The Threat, and The Obvious is made with all post consumer recycled packaging. Their instruments are made from all reclaimed naturally fallen trees. Their clothes are made of organic cotton, and their music is boogie down to the mother Earth bluegrassin’ folksy good. Ask any giving tree hugger and they will gladly mention their previous album, Great Possessions, a triumph in the band’s philosophy. It was produced in Baraboo WI at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center, not normally used as a recording studio. They camped at a local state park and rode their bikes everyday for two weeks to the unconventional make shift studio. They used only solar energy to power the production.
The local heroes Cornmeal brought the house down as always and as always brought the entire family with them. They dart in and out of grooves and the celebratory feel of the band in their home playing field is unlike any other. I was lucky enough to catch Cornmeal for New Years Eve here in Chicago and again, their mothers and immediate family are all elbow to elbow with the corn stalkers. They all cherish and relish every string on Allie’s fiddle, every tap of JP’s never ending engine drumming, every hoot n holler from Kris, the beloved banjo of Wavy Dave and bass body thumping heart stopping jam of Chris Gangi as the family feel of Cornmeal has brought a whole new meaning to family tree.