Stephen Cohen is a performing and recording artist, acoustic guitarist, singer/songwriter, composer, cigar box guitar player, and visual artist. He was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where he played jazz trombone at the age of 12, then started playing acoustic guitar, composing music and writing songs at age 14. He attended Brandeis University in Massachusetts for 3 years before leaving, guitar in hand, to travel across the United States. After many adventures along the way, including stops in Colorado, where he lived in a tree house in the mountains and in a dome in a commune, and New Mexico, where he performed in restaurants and coffee houses in Santa Fe, Stephen made his home in Oregon, where he completed his Bachelor's Degree in Art at the University of Oregon, raised 2 children, and worked a variety of jobs over the years while always playing guitar, composing music, writing songs, recording and performing.
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 1970’s 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 two albums, The Tree People, in 1979, (which was recorded at Rocking A Ranch, a studio in the woods near Eugene), and Human Voices in 1984.
Stephen continued his music career, moving to Portland, Oregon in the mid 1990’s, 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 his nationally acclaimed 2006 album Here Comes the Band, a children's album. His children and family performances include the Long Island Children's Museum, Freight and Salvage Coffee House in Berkeley, California, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, California, and the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. He has done countless performances, residencies and workshops in his home state of Oregon.
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 (Tiliqua), and Spain, (Guerssen Records). Stephen’s solo acoustic guitar piece from the 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”. Stephen and the Tree People came back to do one more album and Guerssen Records, of Spain released CD and vinyl editions of a 3rd Tree People album, It's My Story in 2010. Stephen did his last performance with the Tree People in 2011 at the Musiques Disperses Festival in Spain.
Stephen has added cigar box guitar to his musical repertoire and it has been a big hit everywhere he performs. He now includes a custom made cigar box guitar, a one of a kind cigar box guitar he made himself, and other original instruments along with his acoustic Martin guitar in his act. His new album, 3 String Stephen Plays Cigar Box Guitar, a solo album featuring voice and cigar box guitar is being released this year.