What are the roots of the tree?

Andrew Robb:

'Started writing songs around 1980, often coming out of jam-sessions with friend, Mike Christensen, with whom Robb later formed the alt-everything band: tribe. While attending DePaul University in Chicago (pursuing a PhD in Philosophy), and armed with a Tascam Portastudio 4-track cassette recorder, Andrew began recording with Mike, often sending the tapes to WNUR (Northwestern University). tribe's song "Drift" became the theme song for the station, and the tune "Death Valley Days" won the band free recording time with the legendary Mike Rasfeld at his Acme Recording Studio in Chicago. The result of these sessions was tribe's "Primordial Bop" LP in 1987, which got them critical acclaim, airplay on WXRT-Chicago, and placed them at the center of Chicago's Wicker Park alternative music scene. More on tribe>>>

Following the breakup of tribe in 1990, Andrew released the minimalist sound-diary, "as-if". In '91 he joined with guitarist Eric Markowitz & keyboard whiz Jeff Kowalkowski to form andrew & the tree. The band added Chicago poet & musician JJ Tindall on drums, releasing 3 albums between '92-'98. More on andrew & the tree>>>

Year 2000 saw Robb releasing his second solo work: "Burning Bush". The shows promoting the album prompted the collaboration between Andrew and the current tree members, Mark Fornek & Sam Bradshaw. In the interim period (2001 to 2006), Robb recorded a third solo recording: the Long Haul, to be released in late 2007.

Besides his own work, AJ Robb has recorded/produced and played on recordings by Dave Hawkins (Hawk), and Nashville-based songsmith, Doug Hoekstra.

Mark Fornek (drums):

With "Sparky", as he's called, it's all about the playing, and Mark has played live & recorded with a long list of R&B notables over the years, including an extended touring stint with Chess Records legend Jimmy Rogers. Here's a list:

As a band member Mark's been w/ Jimmy Rogers, Dave Specter (Delmark rec. artist), Bucket #6 (Doug Hoekstra), Rhythm Rockets, Bill Lupkin & Chicago Blues Coalition, Nick Moss & The FlipTops,The Big Sweaty Men & The Mighty Blue Kings.

He's recorded w/ Dave, Bucket, Rockets, Bill L, Nick, Doug Hoekstra, Jack McDuff, Steve Freund, Floyd McDaniel, Eric Alexander,, Kim Wilson, Robert Mazurek, Ken Saydak and dozens of other wonderful blues & jazz musicians.

I've appeared on stage as a backing band member or a guest w/ Johnny Adams, Jonnie Johnson, Von Freeman, John Brumbach, Ken Saydak, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, Robert Lockwood, Mighty Joe Young, Magic Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Kid Ramos, Ronnie Earl, etc.

Says Mark: "Though the majority of my playing experience is in blues/jazz/r&b, I've always loved pop and experimental music. the tree is the intersection of all of these"

For more on Mark's influences, playing in the Chicago Blues scene, check out this Interview w/Sparky Fornek>>>

Sam Bradshaw (bass):

It has been Mr. Bradshaw's pleasure to have been sideman for Eric Markowitz, composer Jeff Kowalkowski, Doug Hoekstra, and, for a short stint in remote antiquity, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

Sam plays the Upright Bass with authority, along with his fretless Fender Jazz Bass.


For a FREE Mp3 download of Track #1 from the tree's new album "Tip of the Iceberg", titled "A Slippering Glimpster Feeling", click below:

Click to download free Mp3

(...this song is influenced by the Stax sound, Brian Wilson, John Lennon, the Kinks)

Influences on the tree:

"My artistic influences are diverse, and this is directly reflected in my songwriting and playing styles"

In general, I'm drawn to rebels and my first heroes were, and still are:

the great Charlie Chaplan

...for combining original aesthetic vision with Courage & a sense of Justice.

Musically, Andrew is drawn to the stylistic "fe" players:

It's not the "what" w/Keith, but the "how". 'Fave bits: leads from "Tumblin Dice" & "Under My Thumb"

'Same for Steve Cropper: seemingly simple chops, that ooze soul and feeling, always "in the song".

"Brian Wilson for musical imagination. I love his breaks especially"- AJ Robb

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