Trees started around 1964 in Madison, South Dakota. The original lineup was Jeff Severson on guitar, Rob Coates on drums, Dick Brown on bass, and Craig Stroud on Rickenbacker 12 string. Most of the cover songs they performed were by the Byrds, but Trees also played early psychedelic: Blues Magoos, Jefferson Airplane, Seeds, Yardbirds, etc., unlike most of the bands at the time that were emulating Mid Continent show bands. Their first paid gig, for $40, was the Colman, South Dakota, homecoming dance. They played many homecomings, proms, school socials, teen ballrooms, and college clubs. Some of the South Dakota gigs included a dive in Ramona, a ballroom in Woonsocket, the Lake Andes ballroom, Ruskin Park, the Kimball ballroom, the Madison ballroom, a ballroom in Spearfish, a hall in Phillip, the Depot Club in Aberdeen, and Horatio's in Brookings. Trees also played in a battle of the bands in Remsen, Iowa, and numerous high school events in Madison and surrounding towns such as Huron. The group added Rocke Grace from Huron around 1966. That's when their sound took shape as Rocky played Hammond B-3 organ, harmonica, bass, and sang. They competed in a Sioux Falls battle of the bands and won a recording contract at IGL Studios in Milford, Iowa. Lord Douglas of KELO Radio produced the flip side that was recorded in KELO studios, Sioux Falls. All the Trees are still making music. Rocke Grace achieved the most success as a songwriter with Joe Walsh. Jeff Severson went on to record two albums with CBS Nemporer Records with his band 4 out of 5 Doctors and is currently a fingerstyle guitarist in the D.C. area. Craig Stroud has written and recorded three albums. Rob Coates released a new CD in the last month, and Dick Brown has recorded a few jazz guitar albums and is living in Scottsdale, Arizona.
After the Trees, Rob settled down to raising a family while still performing music regularly. He was involved with Jesus Rock in the Sioux Falls area for a while, then years later he did some drumming for various bands in the studio in Iowa and the Twin Cities. He returned to rock drumming in the late ‘80s, playing for the Johnson Brothers. He quit drumming in the mid ‘90s and started playing acoustic guitar and singing on the coffee house circuit. Since then, he's performed hundreds of gigs across the upper Midwest, and has recorded a few CDs in the Americana/alt country genre.
After the Trees, Craig became heavily involved in writing, performing, and recording Bluegrass music. His band from the ‘80s was named New River Train. Also in the group was Larry Zierath, who almost became a summer fill-in bass player for the Trees. New River Train's self-titled album received critical acclaim and significant air play on a bluegrass radio station in New York, among others. Craig has recorded a couple of bluegrass/country CDs in the recent past that have a raw, vintage sound. He continues to play the acoustic guitar and write new tunes but he also recently acquired a Rickenbacker 12 string he has incorporated into his latest recordings.
Rocke played in the Squires, the Natives, the Trees, and Rushmore while living in South Dakota. He then moved to Colorado and joined Joe Walsh's Barnstorm and co-wrote the platinum hit “Rocky Mountain Way.” His original songs have been recorded by the Eagles, Eric Clapton, Ozzie Osborne, Dave Grohl, Michael Bolton, Mike Finnigan, Steve Stills, and Ringo Starr. Rocke received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association in 2014. He has been inducted multiple times in the Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado halls of fame with bands he was in, including the Young Raiders, the Flippers, the Blue Things, the Sound of Fate, and Joe Walsh and Barnstorm. While with Barnstorm, he made TV appearances on Midnight Special, Dick Clark’s In Concert, Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Show, Drew Carey Show, Entourage, and Sons of Anarchy. Rocke lives in Los Angeles and plans to move to Rapid City later this year.
After the Trees, Jeff performed with various bands including Bird Dogs, Project V, Rushmore, Zero Ted, and the Electric Experimental Jockstrap Band from Madison. He later joined the Young Raiders in Lawrence, Kansas, and played with the Together band from Kansas City. Jeff moved to Los Angeles in 1974 and co-wrote songs with Rocke Grace. In Washington, D.C., he started the 4 out of 5 Doctors band that was later signed to CBS Nemporer Records and toured the country opening up for the Cars, the Clash, Hall and Oates, Richie Blackmore, UFO, Cindy Lauper, and Pat Travers at venues such as the Cow Palace in San Francisco, the Forum in Los Angeles and U.S. Air Arena in Washington. In 1997, Jeff began a career as a fingerstyle guitarist and has since released 11 solo acoustic CDs while opening for fingerstyle greats such as Pierre Bensusan, Adrian Legg, Kaki King, and others. He has appeared as a guest soloist frequent times with the band America and was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame in 2009 with the Young Raiders and the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 with Zero Ted.
After the Trees, Dick performed with various bands around the Sioux Falls area including Sparrow and Rushmore. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, and has released two jazz guitar CDs of all original material.