3 String Stephen
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3 String Stephen

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1975 | INDIE

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1975
Solo Folk Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Music Editor Amy McCullough's column about Stephen and the Tree People in Willamette Week in 2007"

Thursday, December 13, 2007
Here Comes Your Fan: Out of the Woods
December 12th, 2007 [7:04AM] Posted by: AMY MCCULLOUGH
About a month ago, I received an email that made me think ’90s punk-grunge outfit the Treepeople (featuring Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch) was reuniting. And, based solely on that band’s dirtied-up, angsty cover of the Smiths’ “Bigmouth Strikes Again”—not to mention my immense BTS fanhood—I was pretty excited. Little did I know I’d learn an underground history lesson in Northwest psych folk instead.

See, Martsch’s Treepeople weren’t the first. Back in 1979, a man named Stephen Cohen went into “a studio in the woods near Eugene” (now-defunct Rockin’ A Ranch) and recorded a self-titled album under the Tree People name—an album one fan laid down 150 bucks for at Portland music store Exiled Records. “It didn’t last for very long,” Exiled owner Scott Simmons recalls. Cohen, who continued to play after the Tree People called it quits in 1985, says of the album’s 2006 Japanese reissue: “It is a nice feeling to do something, have it sit for years, and then be around to see it appreciated.” But to some, that original was already sonic gold: “People into psychedelic folk definitely know about it,” says Simmons.

Here in Portland, plenty of music fans are into psychedelic folk, and—whether those fans know it or not—they could lump the Tree People’s spooky, hypnotic forest folk in with that of legendary faves like Texan duo Charalambides or British psych-folkstress Vashti Bunyan. All share a key aesthetic: a sound that’s one with nature, whether it be evoked by cryptic lyrics, sylvan flute, hand percussion or experimental forays into trancelike string noise.

So why did the Tree People vanish? Cohen’s then-young children made touring a non-option, and original bandmate Jeff Stier (recorders, flute, hand drums) eventually moved to Washington, D.C., for work. When the kind-voiced Cohen started hearing from “collectors [and] music fans who all had somehow discovered our first vinyl album,” he contacted Stier only to find that he was moving back to Oregon. “The enthusiasm for our older recorded output [played] a big part in inspiring us to play again,” says Cohen.

The reincarnated band—which is already working on fresh material with new double-bassist Rich Hinrichsen—played a “small, warm-up performance” this past Saturday at a coffee shop in Seattle. “It was great to get our feet wet again,” says Cohen. Simmons’ response when told the Tree People are playing Portland this week? “Oh, weird.” Yup, and pretty awesome, too.

The Tree People play Friday, Dec. 14, with Jon Koonce and Maggie’s Choice at the White Eagle. 9:30 pm - Willamette Week

"Stephen's song "More Than Yoko" featured in Willamette Week"

It’s hard to set a poem to a song and not have it just sound like a poem and a song, competing for attention. The Tree People manage it on 'More than Yoko'. I’m a big fan of Stephen Cohen’s delivery, and he’s all alone on this particular tune, so he gets to set the pace and the tone with just his guitar and his vocals. It’s a little moment, one imagines the exchange taking place under covers in a warm room with rain falling outside. Keeping my thoughts short and sweet here (like the song), but you really should check out the Tree People.
Casey Jarman - Willamette Week

"Stephen's album with the Tree People, "Human Voices" reviewed"

Human Voices, the Tree People’s second album from 1984, is a solid dose of American folk-rock. The group hailed from Eugene Oregon, releasing their debut LP in 1979. Human Voices was a limited edition cassette only release, of which only 300 copies were pressed. Stephen Cohen (guitar and voice), Jeff Stier (recorder, flue, bells and percussion) and Denis Mochary (drums) recorded the album at The Recording Arts Center. It’s an album that sounds wonderfully out of step with the post-punk times.

Allmusic.com refers to the album as a “mini gem” while psychedelicfolk.com notes that Human Voices is “a very strong album, that should be regarded as a classic for the genre.” A few songs, such as the album opening title track, have an English folk influence (early 70s) but the rest of this LP is original American folk/folk-rock music. Highlights include “Grandfather,” a moody singer-songwriter number, “Thomas,” a great, ahead of its time indie sounding composition, the freeform “If That’s Entertainment” and a superb folk instrumental titled “Opus III,” which delves into spacy soundscapes. Human Voices is evenly divided between instrumentals and vocal arrangements.

Guerssen Records, a reissue company based in Spain, reissued this very impressive title on vinyl and cd – it’s well worth a spin and highly recommend to those who are into freakier folk sounds. - The Rising Storm

"THE WALKING WILLOWS / "By Hand" review by Francois Couture"

2012-10-23: The Walking Willows
Journal d'écoute / Listening Diary
THE WALKING WILLOWS / By Hand (3 handed productions)

The Tree People’s journey ended in March 2011 with the reitrement of flute player Jeff Stier. Singer-songwriter/guitarist Stephen Cohen and his trusty doublebassist Rich Hinrichsen decided to carry on under a different name, The Walking Willows. And this new duo recently released their debut CD, By Hand, 27 minutes of hand-made delight. The Tree People’s naive folk is still there, and so is Cohen’s sweet voice, and the delicate instrumentals – a stripped down and coherent soundworld, songs for grown-up children. I do miss the flute in some places, but only a little. “1 hit song” and “Movie lot” are fantastic (and fantastically simple) songs. - François Couture, DÉLIRE MUSICAL | DÉLIRE ACTUEL

"review and concert preview in the Portland Mercury"

Staff Pick
The Walking Willows
Stephen Cohen's old group, the Eugene-based psychedelic folk band the Tree People, didn't garner a ton of attention during their initial stint, but they were posthumously discovered by record collectors worldwide and eventually had their 1979 and 1984 albums reissued. Now Cohen's new band, the Walking Willows, have a record that should similarly delight record collectors and fans of off-the-beaten-path folk. By Hand is a sparse, playful collection of songs performed by Cohen and double bassist Rich Hinrichsen, and they're performed with clarity, precision, and vibrant humor, as on "1 Hit Song" and "Mathematics." There's also some good old-fashioned, rain-sodden Oregon weirdness, and the result is a unique, entrancing folk record that doesn't sound like anything you've heard before. NED LANNAMANN
- Portland Mercury


Still working on that hot first release.



Stephen Cohen is a performing and recording artist, acoustic guitarist, singer/songwriter, composer, cigar box guitar player, and visual artist. His first album, The Tree People, was a vinyl album recorded in a studio in the woods near Eugene, Oregon in 1979.The Tree People were a creative acoustic music ensemble originally formed in the late 1970s in Eugene, Oregon. Founding members were Stephen Cohen on acoustic guitar and voice, and Jeff Stier on recorders, flute and percussion. They performed, at times with third and fourth band members, at concerts and festivals in the Eugene area for 7 years. They recorded a second album,  Human Voices in 1984.

After the Tree People disbanded in the mid 1980s, Stephen continued his music career,moving to Portland, Oregon in the mid 1990s, composing music, writing songs, creating visual art and original sculptural percussion instruments using used guitar strings and other found objects, along with woods and metals,and performing at concerts and festivals across the United States, including the Philadelphia Folk Festival and the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas (where he was an award winner for songwriting in 2000). He recorded three albums during that period, including real life and fiction in 2000, Stephen and the Talk Talk Band in 2004,and his nationally acclaimed children's album, Here Comes the Band, in 2006.

Meanwhile, the first Tree People album, originally released in vinyl and sold only in Eugene, Oregon, somehow appeared across the ocean, and was discovered worldwide by record collectors twenty five years after it was first recorded. Stephen was contacted by several record companies, leading to CD and vinyl reissues of the first two Tree People albums by record companies in Japan and Spain. Stephen's solo acoustic guitar piece from his first album, The Tree People, No More School, was included in an acoustic guitar compilation Wayfaring Strangers, Guitar Soli, by the Chicago record company The Numero Group. The Tree People, whose original music was hard to classify the first time around, were now being called Fathers of Freak Folk and Psych Folk Pioneers. Guerssen Records, of Spain released CD and vinyl editions of a 3rd and last Tree People album, It's My Story, in 2010. Stephen and Seattle double, bass player Rich Hinrichsen, (who joined with Stephen and Jeff on the last Tree People album) released the album by hand as the WALKING WILLOWS in 2012. 

Stephen's next project is a solo album, 3 String Stephen Plays Cigar Box Guitar, to be released in 2014.

Band Members