Santa Cruz-born viral pop artist Oliver Tree returns for benefit concert – Santa Cruz Sentinel


SANTA CRUZ – Artist Oliver Tree intends to finish performing his music on all seven continents within the next year – but not before the Santa Cruz native makes a special stop to help those in need of his hometown.

Oliver Tree, from Santa Cruz, returns home to give a free benefit concert on December 3 at the Rio Theater. (Parker Day – Contribution)

In the midst of a promotional radio tour for his single “Life Goes On” and ahead of next year’s US concert tour, Oliver Tree Nickell – a short name for his professional career – said that he wanted to do something special for his hometown. The inspiration for the special stop arose from the harsh living conditions he witnessed this summer in the city’s sanctioned homeless tent camp in the San Lorenzo River Banks.

To that end, Nickell will team up on December 3 with pop radio station 101.7 The Beach, KCDU-FM, to host a benefit concert at the Rio Theater. The radio station will hand out tickets, but otherwise, seats for the free event will be on a first come, first served basis for 300 people. Nickell urges attendees to bring canned food or cash donations to benefit Santa Cruz County Second Harvest Food Bank and the Garden project for the homeless.

“When I came back this summer just seeing the courthouse the number of homeless people during COVID was something, it was very upsetting to see how bad it got. Obviously, homelessness has been a problem in Santa Cruz since I was a child… but I think COVID has only made it worse, ”Nickell said in a phone interview on Nov. 17. “Basically I worked on screenplays and wrote one about a homeless kid in Santa Cruz. So, it’s just something that matters deeply to me.

Oliver Nickell, from Santa Cruz, better known as Oliver Tree, will be giving a free concert, with donated cans and cash to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Homeless Garden Project. (Oliver Tree – Contribution)

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Next week’s event is Nickell’s first charity show since launching his career ten years ago, but he said he didn’t expect it to be his last. The 28-year-old graduated from Harbor High School in 2011, the same year he signed with his first record label as simply the “Tree” artist.

Now, with years of touring and experience as a recording artist, music video director and screenwriter, Nickell has garnered over 141 million views on YouTube for her music video “Life Goes On”. The catchy single was released five months ago from its 2020 album “Ugly is Beautiful” on the Atlantic label and has since hit the top 40 pop and alternative music charts.

“Santa Cruz is a city with so many talented artists and people doing creative stuff,” Nickell said. “My main goal, apart from trying to give back to this community by raising food and hopefully money, for the homeless situation, is to inspire the community, the artists, to trying to show people that if a kid that’s grown a mile away can do it, anyone can.

When he arrives in town, he will share the stage with others with similar Santa Cruz roots, Nickell said. Nickell’s keyboardist, guitarist, production assistant and general “right-hand man” Casey Mattson grew up on Nickell Street. The two even “used to walk home from Branciforte college and freestyle rap every day.” Band drummer Amir Oosman attended UC Santa Cruz. Two of the three openers on the December 3 show are also artists he grew up with, including Ray “Marcellus” George and Christian “Shelf Nunny” Gunning.

Beyond his concerns about the fate of those who do not have enough food to eat or shelter, Nickell said he has specific reasons for wanting to give back to local social service agencies.

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“The reason I chose the Homeless Garden Project is because they are trying to help people struggling with drug addiction and drug addiction has been a big part of my life, something I fought against as a teenager. in Santa Cruz, ”Nickell said. . “I have a lot of my old best friends who still struggle very badly. I think it’s a big road, (that) self-medication leads to homelessness. A lot of people are trying to cope with mental illness and Over the last few years, they’ve kind of recognized addiction as a form of mental illness, so I think the two go hand in hand.

Homeless Garden Project Executive Director Darrie Ganzhorn said she was aware of the upcoming benefit concert and hoped it would serve as an introduction to the organization for those in the community who were not aware of his efforts.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Ganzhorn said Wednesday. “I am truly grateful that a musician from Santa Cruz County is coming back to his hometown and really focusing on an important issue, which is trying to solve homelessness.”

There are also family ties to the non-profit organization, which owns its 3-acre Natural Bridges farm located on Shaffer Road and a downtown gift shop at 1338 Pacific Ave. Nickell said family and friends worked on the farm. In addition, Nickell’s father, Jesse Nickell is a retired senior vice president of design and construction company Swenson, whose family members own the farm property.

In an interview earlier this month, Jesse Nickell described his son as having “impeccable confidence as a teenager and young adult.”

“As a parent it’s a bit surreal for us, when you go to a festival and have 10,000 people he’s playing for it’s pretty trippy,” Jesse Nickell said of his success. son. “Even as a kid he had the laser (focus on), ‘This is what I do, this is where I go, I am going to entertain the world and this is my job.’ He was really clear about it.

The next step for Oliver Tree is the imminent release of a “surreal / absurd” country album, “Cowboy Tears”, forged during his time living on his grandparents’ ranch during the pandemic. The tour for this album starts February 19 in Los Angeles and stops in San Francisco on February 22. To this day, Oliver Nickell has said he has tried his hand at hip-hop, dance music, pop-punk and more, but plans to retire from music and touring soon. . After making his own music videos – “basically my film school” – Nickell said he plans to post several documentaries on YouTube and focus more on feature film development in the near future.


What: Oliver Tree Benefit Concert, with forerunners Contradash, Ray “Marcellus” George and Christian “Shelf Nunny” Gunning.

When: Doors open at 5.30 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m. on December 3.

Or: Rio Theater, 1205 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz.

Cost: Free for the first 300 participants, donation of cans or cash benefit Second Harvest Food Bank and Homeless Garden Project. Proof of vaccination or negative COVID test within 72 hours required.

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