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Tea Leaf Green return with ‘In the Wake’ in May

Tea Leaf GreenSan Francisco’s Tea Leaf Green return with their most personal collection yet of brawny but hooky classic rock ’n’ roll. In the Wake, out May 14, 2013 on Greenhouse Records, distributed by Thirty Tigers, will be followed by a national tour of major U.S. cities.

After suffering personal tragedy and bonding together creatively — allowing for each member to meaningfully contribute to the songwriting process — TLG produced a career-defining album. In the Wake has all the hallmarks of their acclaimed 17-year body of work, but it’s imbued with an emotionally rich cathartic power.

Tea Leaf Green, whose journey began as a jam-minded party band in the late 1990s, now find themselves some of the Bay Area’s most thoughtful, dedicated craftsmen. As sharply carved and musically robust as any rock unit today, TLG have harnessed their surefire live prowess and ability to seize an audience into a bustling, emotionally dense, ear-snagging studio form with In the Wake, a complete vision that represents the great skill and open-minded invention in this quintet (Trevor Garrod [keys, vocals], Josh Clark [guitar, vocals], Scott Rager [drums], Reed Mathis [bass, vocals] and Cochrane McMillan [percussion]), placing them alongside contemporaries like Delta Spirit, Everest and Dr. Dog in marrying honesty, artistry and grit in music that hums with bruised but unbowed life.

“The title In the Wake has multiple meanings for us,” explains Mathis. “First, these songs came in the wake of our own personal tragedies. Second, the album comes in the wake of our previous album Radio Tragedy (2011). Third, it’s a wake where we’re mourning some things, and celebrating the departed. And last, it’s a sign that we’re in the process of waking up. But, the song ‘In the Wake’ isn’t about any of this [laughs].”

Coyote Hearing Studio, an up-and-coming Oakland, Calif. recording space co-run by TLG’s McMillan and In the Wake co-producer Jeremy Black (Apollo Sunshine), contributed to the flow and ease of making this album.

“It’s really helped to have an impeccable environment to record in with multiple people capable of engineering, producing, and creating together. It’s really been a laboratory for us. The ideas were continually stringing together between us. It’s definitely the most collaborative record we’ve ever made,” says McMillan, who spent many mornings alone in the studio tinkering and fine-tuning tracks, a sign of the warm push-me-pull-you creative relationship he shares with Black.

“We’ve been building towards this sound and recording style for a while,” says Clark. “It’s a matter of trust to come in and know what the other guys have laid down is good and you can build on it. We trust each other to make the sounds that need to be made. It’s also nice when you bring in a song with some words and a melody but you don’t have a preconceived idea of how it sounds. We let each song takes its course.”

More so than anything in their earlier catalog, In the Wake presents what the considerable collective talent in Tea Leaf Green is capable of, letting solo spotlights dim in order to illuminate the greater being that emerges when the members’ arms are linked. Early on the quintet distinguished themselves from their jam-band brethren by writing concise, melodic songs with burly blues-rock riffs.

“One goal with this album was to focus not on who was playing what but to do everything we could to simply make the best songs and the best record,” says McMillan. “It’s not all the individual’s ego. It’s Tea Leaf Green’s ego. We tried to tap into something larger. That’s a beautiful, poetic thing to say, but practically we all still have egos and butt heads, but what came out of this process was something we all really and truly could agree upon. We really did move as one large school of fish.”

“After a while, I noticed all the songs were dealing with the same sentiment: Grieving and getting past it,” says Mathis. “Depression happens to everyone when they fall down. Chronic depression is when you can’t get back up and won’t complete the grieving process. It’s grown-man shit [laughs]. We ended up with something that felt very authentic and healing. Making the record was the finale of the grieving process we’d been through privately, and we helped each other through the final phase with Jeremy at the wheel.”

In the Wake was exactly 365 days in the making — the band received the final masters a full year to the day from when recording began. It was a long road, with a survivor’s fortitude infusing the group’s traditional melodic charms along with an unprecedented degree of studio exploration.

“All of us had our guts handed to us by life in 2011, the year preceding starting this record. The band was solid but everybody really came up against it otherwise. That’s a really powerful bonding experience, but we were all still feeling a little fragile when we came together to begin recording,” says Mathis. “We laid some ground rules on the very first day: 1) Jeremy’s in charge and 2) We weren’t going to discuss the music. We were just going to start. No one was confined to a role, and we just chipped away at it. I wasn’t just responsible for bass. I played guitar, piano, wrote some of the guitar and piano parts Josh and Trevor played, and more.

While not a concept album, In the Wake revisits certain themes — separation, loss, what comes after difficulties, the perspective time brings — including an interlocked “Space Hero” trilogy from Josh Clark.

“Trevor wanted to make a party record, and that’s not really what this is,” chuckles McMillan, “but the way we entertain is floating in these tracks. Ballsy, exciting and fun, that’s us at our best.”

Listening to the new album, it’s clear today’s Tea Leaf Green is a far cry from the young men who wrote “Sex in the 70s” and other easygoing vehicles. That strain remains in TLG’s substrata, particularly in their always invigorating concerts, but creatively and emotionally there’s just more heft to them now.

“We love our fans and are very fan-centric, but at a certain point we have to move on and explore new sounds,” says Clark. “It’s not going to sound like it used to, but we’re really not in any kind of control over this. We don’t sit down and discuss how we’d like to sound. It just happens. This time we got to explore some softer elements, and to move outside our comfort zones. Who knows where it’s going from here.”

Best of 2012 – A Band’s-Eye View

As 2012 comes to a close and year-end Best of Lists start popping up highlighting all the great music that was made this year, we at Honest Tune, wanted to find out what all those musicians who appear on all these best of lists were listening to this year.  So we asked some of our favorite bands what albums moved them this year and what were their memorable moments from a year full of great live shows. We asked each musician four simple questions.

1.) What were your 3 favorite albums of 2012?

2.) What was your favorite live moment of the year?

3.) What album or band were you most excited to discover in 2012?

4.) What are you looking forward to most in 2013?


We also asked photographer Jordan August to share his thoughts about some of his favorite shows and pictures of the year which grace this feature.



Ketch Secor – Old Crow Medicine Show

1.)  1.Chuck Mead’s Back In The Quonset Hut is a positively great Nashville record. It features the legendary A-Team sessions players and a host of special guests doing classic country songs, the kind everybody loves and nobody else in Music City seems to want to record. 

       2.  The Lumineers self-titled album. A couple Jersey boys move west and meet the prettiest cellist this side of the Rockies resulting in a truly beautiful record. Not just a couple of great songs, but a full and fluidous album that is seamless and a joy to hear.

     3.  Mumford and Sons Babel is a righteous record. I love those boys and I especially love what their success means to the scene we’re all a part of. Roots Music is on the rise. Betcha old Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and Kitty Wells would be proud to know.

2.)  Last January my musical cohort of the past 20 years Critter Fuqua and I reformed our old duo Ketch & Critter and returned to our home state of Virginia for a half dozen shows. We played tiny clubs, a general store, and the Little Grill in Harrisonburg, the coffeehouse and soup kitchen where we first shared a stage back in 1993. It was a real homecoming for us. 2012 marked a number of significant changes for Old Crow and to kick it off, stripped down and in our hometown was pretty special.

3.)  I spent a lot of time this year producing an album for Pokey LaFarge, a great new voice on the roots music scene. Most of the records that truly excite me as a listener were recorded 80 years ago. Artists like Tampa Red, Blind Willie McTell, or Leroy Carr, nobody plays like that anymore. In 2013 a lot of people will hear Pokey LaFarge for the first time and believe me you’ll be glad you did.

 4.)  I spent a lot of time this year producing an album for Pokey LaFarge, a great new voice on the roots music scene. Most of the records that truly excite me as a listener were recorded 80 years ago. Artists like Tampa Red, Blind Willie McTell, or Leroy Carr, nobody plays like that anymore. In 2013 a lot of people will hear Pokey LaFarge for the first time and believe me you’ll be glad you did.



Chris Pandolfi – The Infamous Stringdusters

1.)  1.  Miike Snow – Happy To You. I discovered these guys a few years back and really got into their sound/style. This album has a lot going on production wise, which is not a surprise considering the background of the band members. But it also has cool songs, and I dig the alternate vocal styling’s. It’s got everything from power anthems to super-vibey-slow-stuff. I love the tune “Black Tin Box” featuring Lykke Li.

    2. Jon Stickley – Jon Stickley.  Jon Stickley is an extra nasty guitar player from North Carolina. He used to play in a band with our bass player, Travis [Book]. Now he’s off doing his own thing, mostly the JS Trio. His recent release ended up with us on the road and we listened to it quite a bit. The tunes are super inventive and the playing is world class. This is one of the best new acoustic releases in a while.

   3. Tame Impala – Lonerism.  This is an amazing album. A friend turned me onto Tame Impala a few years back but this release is a big step forward for them. I love the retro-production, which fits the music perfectly. It reminds me in some ways of the so-called ‘Chillwave’ electronic movement, which I dig, but it’s also pure rock and roll underneath the wooly layers of verb and saturation. Turn this up and rock out.

2.)  We played a show in Telluride early in 2012 and someone brought a huge Panda suit to the show for me (my nickname is Panda). So, of course I put the thing on during the second set. The head was so massive that I couldn’t see anything at all, which makes being on stage kind of difficult. The only thing to do was rock, so I got someone to plug me in and turn me up and away we went into some tunes. The people seemed to love this. I lasted about 4-5 songs and I was drenched in sweat, it was so worth it.

One other amazing moment worth mentioning: Travis’ wife Sarah Siskind sat in with Bonnie Raitt in Charlottesville a few months ago. After one tune together, Bonnie turned the stage over to Sarah and some real magic ensued. She just took over this huge audience with such elegant authority. It was very inspiring.

3.)  I know it was a really popular release, but like everyone else I was pretty excited to discover Frank Ocean’s solo album, Channel Orange. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily put it in my top ten, it was just really refreshing to hear something so conceptual and new. The songs and the album as a whole are both highly creative. His style is totally his own, and he really owns it, that usually makes for good art. Odd Future can be pretty shocking, but Frank Ocean is smooth and different on his own. It’s inspiring to hear someone in the flow like that.

4.)  It’s fun to be a Stringduster right now, everything continues to get bigger and better, which means we are returning to places with new music, a bigger crew, a more conceptual production, and the people seem really psyched! I’m excited to get back out on the road with my band mates and to continue bringing new tunes to new people all over the place. And I’m especially excited for Ski Tour, where recreation and inspiration are at an all-time tour high, and the shows always seem to take flight.  We are also about to get to work on our latest album. Writing, arranging, hanging and creating with my band mates is without a doubt my favorite part of being in this band, it’s the ultimate payoff.


         -  St. Patrick’s Day, 9:30 Club, Washington D.C. When the band took the stage they were probably more happy then the crowd. Bassist Travis Book had to say many times how honored and surprised they were that they filled the room to capacity the way they did. – Jordan August


Cris Jacobs – The Cris Jacobs Band

1.)  1.  Ry Cooder – Election Special.  I pretty much love everything he’s done.  He’s just one of those artists whose kept pumping out quality stuff throughout his whole career.  His tone, taste, and production are always right on time.  His past several records have been sort of “concept” albums, this one being politically themed.  “Mutt Romney Blues” is a personal favorite, his ode to Mitt Romney’s dog.

      2.  Kelly Joe Phelps – Brother Sinner and the Whale.  Kelly Joe Phelps is too under the radar for how amazing he is.  Such a soulful player, singer, and writer.  I love this record because it goes back to my favorite Kelly Joe sound, just him and an acoustic guitar.  His singing always knocks me out, and his lyrics are always challenging and a little dark. This is his “gospel” album, with all original songs that are themed in spirituality, but the lyrics are not preachy or specific to one religion, just universal themes that anyone can relate to.  And his transcendental country blues guitar playing is as good as it ever sounded. 

      3.  Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator.  This has got to be the best husband and wife duo of all time.  I don’t know what knocks me out more, Derek’s guitar or Susan’s voice, probably Susan but its close.  Straight up soul, with really great songs throughout this whole record. 

2.)  Papa Grows Funk at The Maple Leaf during Jazz Fest this year was completely off the hook.  I had just arrived that day, it was the second week of Jazz Fest, and the city was so knee deep in funk I felt like I had to catch up quick.  PGF threw down harder than I’ve ever heard them, they were definitely warmed up.  They graciously let me sit in and took me for a serious ride; those guys are some of the hardest hitting New Orleans Funk out there.

4.)  Getting married.  I’m a lucky man to have found the girl of my dreams, and this year we’ll be making it official.  Other than that I have an exciting new project that’s in the works that I can’t wait to unleash, stay tuned.


         – My good friend, neighbor and one of Baltimore’s most iconic voices has been making music with some of my favorite players this year. Sit-ins with Anders Osborne, Jon Gros, Greensky Bluegrass, Honey Island Swamp Band and so many more have taken Cris from your local neighborhood shredder to a full out, ready to rock musician. Any band coming through town wants him to play. Got to love the camaraderie of jam-scene musicians. -JA


Grayson Capps


1.)  1.  Brandi Carlisle – Bear Creek

       2. Dylan Leblanc – Cast the Same Old Shadow

       3.  Bob Dylan – Tempest

…all of these records speak in a way in which I identify.

2.)  Hearing songwriters in the round at the Frog Pond on Blue Moon Farm in Silverhill, AL during the Frank Brown Songwriter’s Festival. The line-up was CJ Watson, Nick Branch, Beverly Jo Scott, Randall Bramblet, Sergio Webb and Jeff Gilkerson.

3.) The Horrible Crows

4.) New songs, new music, new places to play, love, peace, and harmony.




Anders Beck – Greensky Bluegrass

1.)  1.  Tedeschi Trucks Band –Everybody’s Talkin’.  I am a HUGE fan of Derek Trucks and pretty much anything he does. His playing exudes soul, emotion and feeling more than anybody I’ve seen play in a long time. So this live album is ear candy to me for that reason. Listen to the solo on “Midnight in Harlem” or the intro to “Bound For Glory” and try and not say “mmmmm hmmm” like a somebody in the congregation of an amazing Baptist church during the best sermon of the year! Oh, there’s also the rest of the killer band crushing this live record. Oteil and Kofi Burbridge holding it down, Susan Tedeschi slaying it like the diva goddess that she is, an amazing horn section and much more.

       2. The Olllam – the olllam.  One of my favorite drummers in the world, Mike Shimmin, kept telling me about this new instrumental project he was recording with via skype and I kept telling him how much I wanted to hear it. Well, I finally did hear it and the tunes are always stuck in my head for days after each listen. The Olllam is different, the trio combines John McSheery, who is a Masterful Irish Uilleann Piper (like think the Jimi Hendrix of the pipes) with Michiganders Mike Shimmin (drums and percussion) and Tyler Duncan (pipes, whistles, guitar and rhodes) and the sonic result is something that is as unique and creative as I have heard in a very long time.  Each song is like a drive through the Irish countryside, but depending upon the song, you are could be traveling via spaceship, jetpack, Bentley, skateboard, or moonwalking.  My favorite track is the one I am listening to, until the next one comes on. It’s really badass!

   3. Marco Benevento – TigerFace.  I’m guilty of describing Marco’s previous records as “modern Beatles albums without words,” so it’s obvious I like the guy’s music. I am a big fan of instrumental albums and Marco really has the ability to tell a story with melody. TigerFace is no exception. Its more pop-y than a lot of what I listen to, but I dig it! The album starts off pretty dance party-esque, but who doesn’t like a good dance party? Once rolling, the album encompass everything I love about instrumental music, the melodic intention, the grooves, the tones, the curve-balls, the sonic textures and layers that are clearly created by the mind of a musical wizard.

2.)  Damn, it’s tough to pick just one! As a fan, my favorite moment was when my musical cohort and partner in crime, Paul Hoffman, sat in with Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers at the Hoxeyville Music Festival. I was loving the whole show from the front row (I’m a huge fan of Hornsby’s playing) and saw Paul on the side of the stage with his mandolin and felt nervous for him.  I mean, Bruce is such a heavy musician that he’s scary! Eventually Paul comes out and is jamming while Bruce is playing his accordion while standing on top of his piano, looking down at Paul, trading licks. I felt like a freakin’ fanboy.

3.)  I’ve been getting into all sorts of amazing new music. There’s a little known songwriter by the name of Bob Dylan who is really worth checking out! Also, for some reason I’ve really been into bands with animals in their names. These guys called The Beatles that I just got hip to have a really timeless sense to their melodies and lyrics. Phish too, they’re crazy! It’s like Fish, but spelled with a “ph” instead of “f”. They really jam as a tight unit. Check them out if you can find some of their live shows on the internet!

4.)  I’m looking forward to making a new album with Greensky. We’ve got studio time carved out of our ever busy schedule and the songs are coming together really nicely. It’s really exciting to make the “definitive” versions of songs in the studio. I still love our last album Handguns and I’m a pretty harsh critic of work I am involved in.  Should be fun to try and follow that one up. Festivals also, I always look forward to festivals, year round!


           – This band has been exploding into every city they drive through, devouring music festivals and spitting out thousands of new fans ever month. This show at the 8×10 in Baltimore was a throw-down. Bright light, happy faces and some really dark, trance-like jams filled the room with positive vibes and some of the best music of the year. – JA


Marco Benevento

1.)  1.  Deerhoof – Breakup Song. I’ve been a fan of Deerhoof since ‘06. I got to hang out with Greg Saunier in Japan. That dude is amazing!

       2.  Dr John – Locked Down.  When I heard Dan Auerbach and Dr John made a record together I freaked out!  Those are two of my top musicians to listen to separately – so when I found out they collaborated I had to get it AND it sounds so badass. That record is amazing.

      3.  Rubblebucket – Oversaturated. Kal and Alex of Rubblebucket are two of my most favorite new musician friends that I’ve been seeing more often these days. Their songwriting is so tasty. I could listen to these guys every day!

2.)  Bowery Ballroom October 12, with my band! I feel like me, Dave and Andy have made big steps forward in the live show department over the last six months. At the hometown New York City show on the TigerFace tour, something clicked and you can really hear it.

3.)  Wolf! featuring Scott Metzger.


          – Never a disappointment when he is here and definitely something that all the real music heads come out to see. Marco is talented, obviously. Seeing him go from playing classical to funky to soul to straight thrash-rock is something I will always love yet never be able to wrap my head around. Call him a prodigy, mastermind or whatever you want. He is still just a normal dude like us that happens to be incredibly good at what he does. – JA


Rob Koritz – Dark Star Orchestra

 1.)  1.  Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill (because it’s Neil Young).

         2.  Bob Dylan – Tempest.  Back to early Dylan

2.)  Dark Star Jubilee.  Playing with Bill Kruetzmann, George Porter JR and Mickey Hart all in a 24 hour period.  For me, it doesn’t get much better than that.

3.)  I’m a little late but for me it was the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  Love it!

4.)  Continuing with Dark Star Orchestra including our Jamaican Jam in the Sand with Keller Williams.  Also, making an effort to see more new bands and getting back to buying albums.


 Reed Mathis – Tea Leaf Green

1.)  1.  Dr. John – Locked Down

       2.  Medeski Martin & Wood – Free Magic

       3.  Nathan Moore – Hippy Fiasco: The Record

       4.  Rufus Wainwright – Out Of The Game

       5.   Dr. Dog – Be the Void

2.)  Marco Benevento show last May. Matt Chamberlain was playing some of the most insane drums I’ve ever heard.  At one point I turned and looked at him, and his hands were a blur, and there were woodchips flying off his sticks & toms, it looked like a man chain-sawing a fallen tree!  I nearly dropped my bass.

4.)  I am sitting here in the studio finishing up the epic Tea Leaf Green record we started in January, and I simply cannot wait for all my friends to hear this!  Very, very proud.  No set release date yet, but probably spring.  Music is awesome.


Mike Dillon – Mike Dillon Band, Garage a Trois

 1.)  1. Deerhoof- Breakup Songs. This band has been busting genres for 20 years, you can’t pin them down, yet I want to listen to them all the time. I know I love a record when it’s like a drug.

        2. Death Grips- The Money Store. Twists hip-hop, and Zac from Hella is one of my favorite drummers.  The music is compelling and different

        3.  ZZ Top- La Futura-  This was a hard pick over bad brains.  However, Billy Gibbons still has the magic. What I like about this record is that these guys are like the Melvin’s or Bad Brains. They keep making the same record. Cocaine and beer soaked funky blues from Tejas. They sing about getting paid, sharp shoes, and cool cars. Rock.

2.)  Mike Dillon Band at Bear Creek. Billy Martin took over on percussion. Iggy took me over and Carly destroyed the old guard.

3.)  Tie Grinderman and the album Grinderman. And Joe Buck.  We opened for Joe and he is a gem of realness in a sea of the mundane.

4.)  Writing more music and touring with my band!




Brian Haas – Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey


1.)  1.  AsInWe – As It Should Be.  Super smart instrumental metal that is symphonic, dynamic and cosmically sweeping in scope.  They play New Mexico desert rock.

        2. Animal Collective – Centipede Hz.  This band has created its own unique language and is the new definition of “psychedelic rock”.

        3. Sigur Ros – Valtari.  This is another band that has created its own language, both literally and figuratively.  Their new album sounds like glaciers copulating.

2.)  Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey performing The Race Riot Suite at North Sea Jazz Fest in Rotterdam was literally a dream come true.

  3.)  AsInWe from Santa Fe, New Mexico. I moved to New Mexico last year and this winter I got to hear this band live, crushing multiple national headliners who had to play after them. Amazing live show and great new album.

4.)  Making an album of my compositions with Matt Chamberlain under my own name.


Wil Blades

1.)   1.  The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now. I’m completely obsessed with Tallest Man after discovering his previous record The Wild Hunt this summer (thanks to my lovely wife). He’s a singer/songwriter/guitarist from Sweden, hailed as the next Bob Dylan by many. His music is definitely out of the folk tradition, but completely unique at the same time.  He’s a genius lyricist, with a somewhat strange but super soulful voice. His guitar playing is equally soulful and he’s an incredibly skilled finger picker. I pretty much wake up with a different Tallest Man song stuck in my head every day!

      2. Jeff Parker – Bright Light in Winter.  Jeff Parker is a good friend and musical associate of mine. He’s also my favorite guitarist and an incredible musician who can and does play anything. Most know him from the experimental Chicago rock band Tortoise, but his credits include Josh Redman, Brian Blade Fellowship, Charles Earland and he is a member of the AACM, to name a few. This is Jeff’s third album under his own name. It straddles many genres with firm roots in Jazz. Jeff’s tunes are very spacious and open, with great harmony, melody and grooves.

    3.  Dr. John – Locked Down.  What can be said about Dr. John that hasn’t already been said? This is a really cool album produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. It’s got a very dirty, analog sound, which I’m always a fan of. There are some really cool blends of Ethiopian grooves and sounds, great horn parts and of course, great singing and playing by Dr. John. It will be a definitive record in his catalog without a doubt.

2.)  In early February I traveled to Ethiopia for a couple gigs and some workshops at Ethiopian music schools. While I was there I visited a well-known restaurant, Yod Abyssinia. They had a traditional Ethiopian band playing on a stage with traditional Ethiopian dancers. The musicians were fairly young, playing traditional Ethiopian instruments and this was some of the FUNKIEST music I have ever heard in my life, hands down! The grooves that these guys were sitting on were completely infectious, one of the most memorable musical experiences of any year!

3.)  The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt

4.)  New musical experiences, traveling to new places and continuing to grow as a human being.



Dwight McCall – JD Crowe & the New South, American Drive

1.)  1. Kenny and Amanda Smith- Catch Me If I Try.  Absolutely some of the best harmony that you will ever hear and the song selection on their CDs are always top notch.

    2. Special Consensus- Scratch Gravel Rd.  This is a group who has been through several personnel changes over the last several years but this seems to be the line-up that just gels really well. This cd has a great spectrum of material and is performed at a top notch level.

    3. Don Williams- And So It Goes.  Long overdo cd from a legend in country music. I thought we may have heard the last recording of Don Williams, but to my surprise he comes along with one of his strongest recordings ever. His vocal is as smooth as ever.

2.)  The chance to play with Tony Rice and Bobby Hicks at Bean Blossom Indiana. They have always been two of my biggest inspirations and musicians that I have looked up to my whole life. That is a show I will never forget.

3.)  Elise Testone. This young lady was one of the finalists on American Idol in 2012. I think she was 7th from the top to leave but she has the most amazing voice. I really hope the cd that she comes out with will be one that really showcases her vocals in the right way. I think she is a star if just given a chance. One of only a few highlights from American Idol.

4.)  I am looking forward to starting out with our own band American Drive this year. We have been with JD Crowe and The New South so long that it just seems like it is the right time to do this. My band mates Rickey Wasson, Matt DeSpain, Kyle Perkins and Josh Hymer are really looking forward to entering the bluegrass world as a unit with our new self-titled release, American Drive.




Paul Buchanan – Blue Nile

1.)  1. Bob Dylan – Tempest.  Because he is a poet.

      2. The Maccabees - Given To The Wild.  Because I did a tv show with them and they were the best thing on it.

      3. Llana del Ray – Born To Die.  Because I just heard it in a record store, and some records should work like that.

2.)  The audience at the first live show of Mid Air singing the title song to me, their breath visible in the night air, and their voices bringing me to a standstill. 

3.)  I first heard this band a few years ago, but I am excited about the new album from Up Dharma Down, Capacities.  Please check them out.

4.)  Life.






Dustin Welch

1.)  1. Shovels & Rope - O, Be Joyful.  Old friends of mine. I had a band all through high school with Cary Ann Hearst, the female half of the duo. These folks are as self-sufficient as it comes, and the records they make at home don’t sound like anything anyone else is doing. Their live show has more energy and enthusiasm than most full rock bands, and the writing is dangerously strong. All attitude.

      2.  Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now.  After my band with Cary Ann, Justin and I teamed up and had a band going for a while in Nashville. He actually put a song on here we wrote probably 13 years ago, which I also had on my first album. I’m sure I’m partial to both the last two records, because I’d seen the development of these folks as artists, and watched how they formed their sound. The producer, Skylar Wilson, and I have been friends since we were about five, and it’s been especially cool watching him define his style.

     3.  Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance.  I know who the people are in every song, and most of what he talks about, I’ve lived through myself. It resonates true all the way through. And again, very cool production.

2.)  Jack White put on an incredible show during SXSW. A guy who was in both my old bands I mentioned is playing with him these days, and getting to see him performing songs I’ve loved for years was a real thrill.

3.)  I guess it would have to be Patterson Hood. Somehow, I managed to avoid hearing most of the Truckers stuff and it was cool to finally discover his catalog. Okay, that and Lucero. Hadn’t spent any time with those records until now, either. It’s amazing to hear so many similarities in my own influences as with both those guys, and interesting to see how we’ve all got our own version of interpretation.

4.)  I’d be lying if I said it was anything but getting ready to put out my second record. It’s been several years since I released anything, so it should allow us to get out on the road and play for some new audiences.


Todd Clouser

1.)  1.  St. Vincent/David Byrne - Love This Giant.  A friend in Mexico City hipped me to St. Vincent right before this came out. I lose track of a lot of things that are being talked about in media because of living down here. I fell in love with her guitar playing from previous records. It’s all her. This record with David Byrne is grand and dance ready, but substantive and digging art, both visionary and acknowledging of past artistic triumphs in their individual catalogs. The result of two profoundly individual voices that don’t know how to be afraid.

      2.  Ron Miles - Quiver. Ron Miles on trumpet, Bill Frisell on guitar and Brian Blade on drums, recorded live. Phil Grenadier told me to listen to this record before we played some shows together. I could not put it away once I got going. Virtuosity is shelved, and it’s all beauty in space. No bass, no anchor, out to wherever you want to go.

      3.  Medeski, Martin and Wood - Free Magic (Live).  I had to stop listening to their records to avoid mimicry, but at this point I can listen again. I listen to where they come from, their commitment to each other and to music as language and expression. This record is profound and emotional, improvisational but not without its hooks, and entirely comfortable with itself. Its bare, they are there. Live tracks culled from an “acoustic” performance, meaning Medeski on acoustic piano. I get audible shivers listening.

2.)  Playing with Cyro Baptista at the National Auditorium’s El Lunario in Mexico City with A Love Electric. When you are somewhere with that type of history, surrounded by musicians from five different countries, a big full room, and we are improvising, the energy is wicked. I remember feeling like that as a child, playing in my basement, or listening back to the first thing I recorded on a 4 track, but not much since.  The profundity of the surroundings pulled music from everywhere I forgot I had it.

3.)  I discovered the Melvins, again, now called Melvins Lite.I went to a concert of theirs at First Avenue in Minneapolis when I was 13 or so, my mom dropped me off and picked me up. I went alone. I think I went because Kurt Cobain cited them as an influence, but for whatever reason, I was there, and I got shook. I maybe bought a record then but hadn’t listened since my early teens until a recent tour with Mike Dillon and he put on their new Freak Puke record, released in 2012. I don’t know what you call it, but it makes me happy in all its darkness.

4.)  Aside from staying on the road and things A Love Electric and beyond, I’m looking forward to Tom Waits doing whatever he does. I love him.  He’s the guy people will look back to as someone who said all the shit before it went down. I have to warm up to listen to him, it comes that real, his voice spits blood up my spine.

Tea Leaf Green & The Stringdusters bring good music to Athens


Tea Leaf Green & The Infamous Stringdusters
Georgia Theatre
Athens, GA
March 23, 2012



On a recent Friday night, an improbable dually billed gig descended upon the historic Georgia Theatre when the young and constantly vertical moving bluegrass band, The Infamous Stringdusters, joined forces with Tea Leaf Green, the veteran jam quintet that hails from San Francisco.

Of course placing either of these bands in a box would be doing so at one’s own peril.

Example: Though The Infamous Stringdusters are an absolutely pure “string band,” they have toured extensively with the worldly music making Toubab Krewe (occasionally performing under the moniker of Infamous Krewe), they host a festival (The Festy) that had Brett Dennen as a headliner on one night last year and their recent release, Silver Sky, was produced by Billy Hume, a gentleman who is primarily recognized for his work with hip-hop artists like Nas and Ludacris.

Taking all of this into consideration, the bill wasn’t all that surprising after all and simply put, it just meant that fans in attendance would get two different flavors and quite a bit more bang for their buck.

On top of all this, both bands were en route to Suwannee Springfest, so hooking up on the way was a way to maximize the long distance trip. Plus, in a rather smooth marketing move on both bands’ parts, since both outfits make great music and therefore,  they have fans who enjoy the same, so the potential for crossover was high.

Starting promptly when the ticket stub said they would, The Infamous Stringdusters took the stage to a sparsely filled house, but that would soon change as the event had sold out during the day.

The opener, “Likes,” was a great way to start off the show and very congruent to the warm-up feeling in the theatre at the time.

Next, the Stringdusters launched into a song from their brand new album entitled “Rockets.” The aforementioned new album was released March 13 and receives its name from this lyrical masterpiece. With more people making their way into the Theatre and with the band now fully in stride, the quintet ramped up the intensity, pushing the pedal to the floor and refusing to relent until their stage time had passed.

Exemplifying what makes their sound so sonically pleasing, “Hiker” showcased the way in which division of parts is driven by equality in this band, with solos from the Andy Hall, Chris Pandolfi and Jeremy Garrett on Dobro, banjo and fiddle respectively.

It is this “lack of a star” that makes the Stringdusters shine as a collective unit. Separating them from an overwhelming majority of their peers, the members of this band are equally talented, but as opposed to getting in each others’ way, they have managed to master the art to complement each other’s play with a level of musical communication that is anticipatory in nature and never seems forced.

After “Hiker” closed with an ethereal jam and the band drove through an excellent version of  Danny Barnes’ “Get It While You Can,” the most ideally placed offering of “Steam Powered Aereoplane” was next. The band delivered a concise and well executed serving the legendary John Hartford tune.

Musicianship aside, each “Stringduster” can sing as well and when they sing in quintuple harmony, it can only be described as beautiful.

Best evidenced in Athens with “Like I Do,” the vocal work was stellar as was the bass work of Travis Book who, unlike some bassists within the bluegrass genre, never gets lost in the mix.  At

By this time, the crowd had become swollen and with “Sunny Side,” the newest member of the band, guitarist Andy Falco, was given a chance to show his chops, driving the Athens crowd into a frenzy with his fever pitched tone.

The Stringdusters’ joy for making music and entertaining a crowd was as evident as ever on this night. Judging from the smiles on the room’s faces, their mission was accomplished and though this was a co-billed evening, it was abundantly clear that it will not be long before the band is able to wander into Athens and it be their night, all unto themselves.

In between sets, in taking a moment to explore the recently restored Georgia Theatre, it was safe to say that the Theatre is not just back, but that it is supremely improved. There has been some criticism of the seating limitations in the balcony, but the sightlines are breathtaking. To say that the live music crowd at large — but particularly in the Southeast —  is lucky to have the Theatre back would be an enormous understatement.

Bands bring their “A” game within the walls that have spawned legendary careers and being that this was both the Stringdusters and Tea Leaf Green’s first show at the famed spot since the fire, it was definitely going to be interesting to see what Scott Rager (drums, percussion), Josh Clark (guitar, vocals), Trevor Garrod (keys, vocals), Reed Mathis (bass, vocals) and Cochrane McMillan (drums) brought to the stage.

Golden Gate city natives Tea Leaf Green formed in 1996 and have released eight studio and six live albums since then. The bands studio albums seem to transition from highly improvisational at the beginning to more and more structured. Ironically, their newest album Radio Tragedy is the most structured and radio ready to date, characterized by some as “power pop.”

TLG chose to open the night with “Germinatin’ Seed,” a number that harkens back to the earlier days of TLG with heavy improvisation and far less focus on structured delivery and less structure than newer numbers leave room for. The Bernie Worrell-like organ solo delivered by Trevor Garrod and slick fast guitar solo by Josh Clark in the succinct“Seed” really hit the spot and got the crowd prepared for what was about to take place.

Now prepared, the crowd nearly exploded as TLG went into a song that accomplishes being both bluesy and spacey, “The Devil’s Pay.”

While “Devil’s Pay” featured a lengthy improvisational jam in the middle the band had no trouble going to the edge and then bringing it back home relatively safely without getting lost. The jams had structure in the journey, but of equal importance, also destination. Unfortunately this is indirect contrast to many in the genre whose jams have plenty of liftoff and experimentation but no clear direction or place to land.

The fiery guitar work from Clark continued through “Cottonwood Tree” and — with his slide — into “Georgie P” behind the thumping bass line from Reed Mathis.

“All Washed Up” is a creatively different song from the new album with almost spoken word vocals and a real nebulous feel, like a theme dong of a dark carnival, that could potentially be classified as a pop punk song if classifying things is your bag.

Like the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers and Widespread Panic, Tea Leaf Green features dual drummers, Scott Rager and Chochrane McMillan, and during “Let Us Go” they got a chance to demonstrate that they aren’t just back there to play the same tempo, efficiently utilizing all of the many tools attheir percussive disposal.

The encore consisted of the psychedelic infused “Truck Stop Sally” and the bluesy “The Garden III.” With a solid rhythm section and Josh Clark’s incendiary guitar work coupled with Trevor Garrod’s vocals and keys, Tea Leaf Green left the building standing right where they came in… on solid ground. In a day and age when Adele was credited with “saving the recording industry,” TLG’s critique of radio music rings true. The fact that they have been hard at what they are doing and feeding their families, paying their bills and the like for nearly 16 years is proof enough that they know what they are doing. But if not, the folks at the Georgia Theatre needed no persuasion after a blisteringly grand set from a group that has yet to stop innovating.

With the closing notes, fans went their separate ways, having experienced two very diverse sounds over the course of one evening in a great venue. It can safely be said that fans were gained on both sides of the aisle because what was played was good honest music. After all, isn’t that the most important genre anyway?


Tea Leaf Green Setlist


Germinatin’ Seed > The Devil’s Pay, Cottonwood Tree, Georgie P, All Washed Up, I’ve Been Seeking, Criminal Intent, Oklahoma Home > Jezebel, Fallen Angel, Sleep Paralysis, Without A Broom > Warmup > Vote on Tuesday, Let Us Go > Dual Drum Solo > Let Us Go, My Bastard Brother
Encore: Truck Stop Sally > The Garden (Part III)


Infamous Stringdusters Setlist


Likes, Rockets, Hiker, Get It While You Can (Danny Barnes), Home, Steam Powered Aereoplane (John Hartford), Like I Do, Walking on the Moon (The Police), No More To Leave You Behind, Fork in the Road


Click the thumbnail(s) to view more photos from the show by Ian Rawn

(Follow Ian’s photo journey by joining his Facebook group)




ALO & guests (w/ Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers), 2/25/12

ALO (with Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers)
The Fillmore
San Francisco, CA
February 25, 2012



It wasn’t by mistake that ALO decided to close out their sixth annual Tour d’Amour at the Fillmore in San Francisco, for it is the Golden Gate city that the quartet calls home. Therefore, it is where their friends live.

On this night — that was also supported by the fiery Nicki Bluhm and her group of Gramblers — ALO’s Zach Gill, Dan Lebowitz, Steve Adams & Dave Brogan were intermittently joined by some of San Fran’s finest culls, Reed Mathis, Scott Rager, Josh Clarke (Tea Leaf Green), Pete Sears (Moonalice), Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacono (Mother Hips) and many more.

Susan Weiand was on hand as the sold-out hometown crowd welcomed home their neighbors.


Click the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the show by Susan J. Weiand

(Susan’s Music Photography Group on Facebook)





Tea Leaf Green, 2/11/12

Tea Leaf Green
Brooklyn Bowl
New York City, NY
February 11, 2012



Playing one of the notable New York City venues on a Saturday night is as exciting for a concertgoer as it must be for a musician.

With an electric performance already under their belt from the previous night at the Bowery Ballroom, a lane was opened up for San Francisco based quintet Tea Leaf Green to sneak in a long night of fiery guitar riffs, smooth bass notes, and heart felt keyboard chords; all of which could be summed up with one phrase: Rock & Roll.

Simply put these guys put on one hell of a good rock concert at the Brooklyn Bowl. From the Reggae infused “ Easy To Be Your Lover” to the energetic “Garden part III,” Tea Leaf Green moved through their setlist in a manner that made it seem as though the songs chosen had been originally written to be played in that order.

Acknowledging the bowling lanes to the left of the stage (as well as the delicious golden fried chicken), fans of The Big Lebowski were ecstatic to hear the guitar work of guest Scott Metzger (RANA, Gene Ween) for Bob Dylan’s “The Man In Me.”  As the last notes of the cover lingered over the crowd, familiar quotes from the cult classic were unrelenting.

Scott stayed onstage for a huge version of “Incandescent Devil”  that saw keyboardist, Trevor Garrod’s vocals mesh perfectly with the two screaming guitars of Metzger and TLG’s Josh Clark.

All and all, one would be hard pressed to find better way to spend 12 bucks on a Saturday night. Too bad that doesn’t include the fried chicken.



(Stream this show below the photo gallery)

Easy to be Your Lover, 5000 Acres, Honeymooners, Garden III, Bouncin’ Betty, Cops Took My Weed, Nothing Changes, Oklahoma Home, Devil’s Pay, The Man in Me (Bob Dylan)*, Incandescent Devil*, Training a Cloud, Keeping the Faith, Dreaming Without Sleeping, Red Ribbons, Hipster Ninja, Panspermic*

Encore: Death Cake

*w/ Scott Metzger

To download an audience recording of this show, click here.


Click the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the show by Andrew Blackstein




Tea Leaf Green: Radio Tragedy!


Here’s the thing about Tea Leaf Green’s new album, Radio Tragedy! – it’s confusing.

There are glimpses of what the band is capable of, what they’ve proven they’re great at – creating great songs with catchy hooks and stellar musicianship. The issue becomes one the songs themselves – stylistically, they’re all over the map.

Continue reading Tea Leaf Green: Radio Tragedy!

13 years in the making : Keeping it green with Tea Leaf


TLG6.jpgA piano man visiting the home of Professor Longhair, Trevor Garrod stands out in the crowd sprawled and spun on the sidewalk outside of Tipitina’s.

His blonde locks curling out from underneath a black cap, Garrod’s frayed dark suit might be best described as thrift-store chic, a look at home in the wind and chill of San Francisco. But just like the Californicated notions of racial utopias and recycling, his fashion strikes an odd chord in New Orleans, its denizens favoring pastel renderings of light linens during Jazz Fest – anything, really, as long as it keeps them cool.

Accessible, eager and oozing a boyish charm despite years on the road, the Tea Leaf Green co-founder and frontman’s eyes sparkle with excitement as he surveys the musical feast soon to be served.

Continue reading 13 years in the making : Keeping it green with Tea Leaf

Old Hound Dog Likes To Run: Tea Leaf Green’s Trevor Garrod

Trevor Garrod

Tea Leaf Green keyboardist and vocalist Trevor Garrod has the soul of an old-time folk-singing troubadour, yet he plays in a rock ‘n’ roll band.  He is quick to point this much out.

“I am not that much of a rocker, I like to play some quieter music like Norah Jones,” he says.  For Garrod, despite playing in a band known for its live prowess and improvisation, it always comes down to the song.

Continue reading Old Hound Dog Likes To Run: Tea Leaf Green’s Trevor Garrod

Echo Project adds to line-up

The Echo Project confirmed the second round of performers slated for the inaugural three-day eco-responsible music and arts festival in Atlanta, Georgia this October 12-14, 2007. 

The additions to the lineup include: The Flaming Lips; Thievery Corporation with their full live band; Les Claypool; The Bravery; Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; Secret Machines; MSTRKRFT; JJ Grey & Mofro; Son Volt; The Egg; The Album Leaf; Man Man; Tea Leaf Green; The Benevento/Russo Duo; Lazaro Casanova; and Telepath.

The Echo Project kicks off its annual eco-responsible music and arts festival in Atlanta, Georgia this October 12 – 14, 2007.  The three-day, multi-stage camping festival will be held on 350-acres of scenic Chattahoochee river front property on a privately owned 1250-acre farm just south of metropolitan Atlanta.

With a green focus and philosophy, The Echo Project is set to revolutionize how music and arts events affect our environment through eco-friendly event production by ways of carbon emissions, power consumption and creation, alternative energy sources, and waste management and recycling initiatives. For its inaugural event, The Echo Festival along with Sustainable Waves and Rivers Alive is also launching a major Chattahoochee river clean up prior to the festival.  Tickets go on sale Tuesday, July 30th and are available at www.the-echoproject.com.

Featuring a diverse range of talent, from rock to hip-hop, The Echo Project also announced its first round of performers today, which include The Killers, Phil and Friends, moe., Stephen Marley, The Roots, Cypress Hill, Polyphonic Spree, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Umphrey’s McGee, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, The Disco Biscuits, Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues, Brazilian Girls, The Avett Brothers, Lyrics Born, RJD2, Toubab Krewe, Spam Allstars, ALO, Greenskeepers, and Afromotive.

The Echo Project is promoted by Nicholas Bouckaert of Rivertown Entertainment, LLC. in conjunction with Meatcamp Productions. Greening partners include Sustainable Waves, a national provider of mobile solar powered sound and staging solutions; Green Mountain Energy Company, the nation’s leading provider of cleaner electricity and carbon offset products; and the Environment Media Association (EMA) which mobilizes the entertainment industry in a global effort to educate people about environmental issues and inspire them into action.

Tickets go on sale for The Echo Project on Tuesday, July 31 at 10 AM EST. Three-day tickets begin at $145 and are available online at www.the-echoproject.com and 1-800-594-TIXX.