Julie: “Any significance to the name, Nodding Tree Remedies?”
Chance: “It’s how air pets the trees as they sway on the 45th parallel. Does that help?”
I took a break from the Salem music scene from 2000-2010 to do the mom thing. Even so, I had heard the name Nodding Tree Remedies (NTR), and presently heard a buzz that they are performing again. When I saw that they are booked to play The Space on August 5th, I decided to find out what they’re about.
As I asked around, one thing became clear: they put on a wild live show. Since I have yet to experience them live, I asked Doug Hoffman, owner and mastermind behind the legendary Space on Broadway recently resurrected on Edgewater in West Salem, about NTR: “Their music and shows teeter on the verge of total psychedelic nonsense and third-eye vision. A buffet of sound, color, and ridiculousness—unapologetically bizarre, yet somehow orchestrated. They’ll have a special place at the show for multiple costume changes.”
Founding members Thomas Mudrick and Chance Wiesner formed NTR in 2004. They both sing, play guitar, and write the songs that started as an acoustic duo which they describe as heavier and more aggressive than the full band that assembled in 2005. I should note that their line-up is a constantly changing, living, breathing organism. In fact, Mudrick told me that at some shows, they would pass their instruments to audience members and at times, no actual members were left on stage. He laughed, saying it was either a complete mess or “they sounded better than we did!” I mentioned that their show advertises all original members, so I asked who that would be. Mudrick and Wiesner looked at each other, puzzled, unable to pin down the original players. But for this show there’s Tyler Gresley on acoustic guitar; John Allen on banjo, projections, and ASL; Ricky Cleave on didgeridoo; Bryan Mudrick on drums; Zach Thunder on cowbell and raps; Trask Schulte on bass; and Lion Warrior (Lion Warrior?) on miscellaneous percussion. Yes. They incorporate American Sign Language into their act.
Interviewing Mudrick and Wiesner was a confusing experience, but they’re positive and generous. They greeted me with a gift, a CD of 1940s harmonica group Harmonicats. Their influences were all over the map: Wayne Newton, Johnny Carson, Beethoven and their biggest influence, a 1975 movie by Peter Weir, “Picnic at Hanging Rock.” I have no idea how this relates to their trippy, ‘60s-infused psychedelia.
NTR has two new singles, “Feed the Sheep” and “Hit the Sack.” The latter is homage to a recently legalized plant in Oregon. These new songs are still spacey, psychedelic dreamscapes, but sound more produced, perhaps more contemporary. That would make sense; they told me that their older songs were all done on whatever equipment they could find-even using tapes they purchased, leaving some of the original content between songs. They met Ryan Block of Portland’s Ten Dollar Recording Co. in 2010 and have been working with them since.
Also on the August 5th bill is “experimental soft pop” Human Shaped Earth with Bryan Mudrick on guitar and vocals, Anthony Mudrick on drums, and Cory Sheldon on bass. Yes, a bit of a family affair. I’m thinking I pretty much have to see this show.