Named after the George Jones-Roger Miller song, Tall Tall Trees is the indie folk project of songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Mike Savino.
Tall Tall Trees' 2009 self-titled debut album was a full-band effort combining traditional bluegrass, folk, and world music influences. As Tall Tall Trees eventually morphed into a solo project, touring necessitated customized equipment as well as mastery of live looping techniques. Soon, Savino's music transcended rootsier origins into the realm of psychedelic pop, often involving the use of looping and effects pedals in tandem with his highly modified electric banjo. By the arrival of his third album, 2017's Freedays, the project had a decidedly more psychedelic bent, while 2020's A Wave of Golden Things took a more stripped-down approach to his good-natured songs.
A Long Island native, Savino played saxophone and bass guitar in his youth, eventually studying jazz double bass at The New School in New York City. Exposure to world music around that time and an ensuing tour in Brazil inspired a passion for folk music. He picked up a banjo he'd collected along the way, took to it, and started working on songs that would become the 2009 debut Tall Tall Trees. Released on Savino's own Good Neighbor Records, the album saw him joined by drummer Mathias Kunzli and guitarist Kyle Sanna. Adding Benjamin Campbell to the official lineup on bass, the more introspective Moment followed in 2012.
Savino toured extensively and mostly solo to promote Moment, quickly earning a reputation as a one-man-band road warrior with performances centered on his, by then, singular "banjotron," which incorporated pickups, live effects, and looping pedals. During that time, Savino also became a regular in Kishi Bashi's touring band, playing his custom banjo and singing backup on multiple tours. Tall Tall Trees' 2014 EP The Seasonal showcased his expanded use of the banjo and evolving, more psychedelic sound.
In 2015, he packed up his gear and headed to Blairsville, Georgia to act as caretaker of a vacated health retreat surrounded by acres of national forest. Taking advantage of several months of solitude, he went to work on his third full-length, his first to be conceived as a solo album. Relying heavily on his unique banjo setup for diverse acoustic, electronic, and percussive textures, he recorded alone until eventually bringing in K Ishibashi (Kishi Bashi) and drummers Philip Mayer and Claude Coleman, Jr. (Ween) for finishing touches. More touring -- both solo and with Kishi Bashi -- followed, and in the fall of 2016 Tall Tall Trees signed with Joyful Noise Recordings. They released the resulting Freedays in early 2017.
After moving from his long-time base of Harlem to Asheville, North Carolina, Savino went on another songwriting retreat, this time to a hemp farm in nearby Leicester. Working much more quickly, he recorded the leaner A Wave of Golden Things in less than three weeks in early 2019. Featuring Micah Thomas on drums, it arrived on Joyful Noise in January 2020. ~ Marcy Donelson