David Costa’s home sits almost equidistant between Stonehenge and Glastonbury in England’s Somerset county. For the 73-year-old graphic designer, who helped create the cover art for Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Queen’s A Night at the Opera, it’s the perfect location to wait out the pandemic, and to contemplate retirement. His home’s locale is also, as he says with a knowing laugh, “pretty apt” when it comes time to field a Skype call about his days as guitarist in Trees, the acid-folk quintet that bloomed for a brief four years in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
The group was one of many British artists in that era who were fusing the traditional folk music of their home country with the psychedelic rock that was being baked to perfection on the West Coast of the United States. Like Costa’s home, the music of Trees stood at the musical midway point between England’s mystical, pagan past and the electric sounds celebrated at Glastonbury.
Though Trees were part of a scene that included luminaries like Fairport Convention, Pentangle, and the Incredible String Band, their two lush, incandescent albums—1970’s The Garden of Jane Delawney and 1971’s On The Shore—never achieved widespread acclaim. In the five decades since their inception, the group’s legacy has been kept alive through the efforts of dedicated fans like Danger Mouse, who built the title track for Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere on a sample of Trees’ version of the traditional ballad “Geordie.” Other artists, like modern folk musician Sally Anne Morgan stumbled upon the band after a night spent going down a YouTube wormhole. Continue reading