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Tea Leaf Green, Theater of the Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA- 12/31

New Years Eve 2006 brought everything a person could want: great people, good times, smokin’ tunes, and great sex

Just when you thought there wasn’t anything left on the knob to take you any higher, another new sound has arrived just in time to draw you out once again. In the past few years, some of our jamband greats have disappeared from radar, which coupled with many failed attempts at duplicating their art and scene, has became disheartening to say the least. There are those who have become a little jaded at the posers and endless monotony that the scene’ has generated lately. Yeah, that sounds negative and perhaps it seems similar to something that your dad would say. But that attitude changed for many of us on New Year’s Eve.

Entering the venue, on December 31 at Philadelphia’s Theater of the Living Arts, there was a noticeable spark of positive energy and when the lights went down, we were treated to a very engaging opener, “Country Seduction.” This one made me feel like I was in the hills of western North Carolina dancing on the grass with my shoes off. It was a great first taste of these guys to get the blood pumping. From here came some funky, body-moving keyboards to open the second song, “Panspermic De-evolution.” The funk gave way to a hard guitar riff compliments of Josh Clark and this mostly instrumental tune was littered with highs and lows as well as some nasty bass-bombs via Ben Chambers whose energy on stage is second to none. Fifteen minutes into the show and we’d already heard some hoe-down, funk, edge, and some space jams (and was that a Bowie “Fame” tease inter-twined into the tune?). Then they segued into the first teases of a very melodic, vocal-rich “If It Wasn’t For the Money,” which had an alternative-sounding guitar, followed by folk lines which transitioned right back into a jam with the keys backing it up. TLG sandwiched this within “Panspermic,” and the segue back into the song proved reminiscent of a “Chalkdust Torture” with a keys build-up and a high-energy conclusion.

It’s a pleasure to hear someone for the first time, as you can often detect some of their musical influences. “Hotdog” started with a sound that reminded me of Stevie Ray’s “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” and Jimi’s impact (among others) was interlaced throughout the show as well. This song kept the hips moving and was fun throughout.

Every band, especially newer ones fighting to propagate their sound to the masses will all have their “anthem” or are in the process of developing one. After hearing more deep keys to open “Taught To Be Proud” and watching the lips moving on most every face in the room, it was clear that this was one of their staples. Steady beats from Scott Rager on the drums kept things going at a body-moving pace throughout.

I do have to say though that on occasion it felt like their music overpowered their vocals. Perhaps this was just a matter of the sound mix at the TLA. At any rate they are still young and have plenty of maturation room with respect to vocals and over time, so they will most certainly sync up and turn up the mic for the balance.

Anyhow, what about the sex? 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1Happy New Year! 2007 began with 9 people on stage including the members of The Brakes who opened the show. The group then broke into James Brown’s “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine.” A more fitting song to ring in the New Year there could not be as a band with so much soul just had to pay tribute to the Godfather himself, right? Of course it was very appropriate after the fallen legend’s passing, with brass from The Brakes helping to take it to the bridge’. Out of nowhere, they cracked into a Third Stone From the Sun’ jam which was the meat of a “Sex Machine’ sandwich that melded nicely together along with “Auld Lang Syne.” Good energy and great sex.

The Brakes sat in for one more: a very nice rendition of AC/DC’s “Have a Drink on Me”, which set the tone for what would be a great second set with a lot of edge. Everyone got a chance to shine on “Franz Hanzerbeak” a song with huge bass lines coupled with some Herbie Hancock-like keys. Josh Clark took over on vocals for the next song, “Truck Stop Sally,” a long ballad, in which he sang, If you wanna get high with the bandyou gotta get the band high too” In leaving the show, you could hear people still singing these lines on their way home. “Sex in the 70’s” (yes, more great sex), epitomized the synthesizer sound reminiscent of the time period of the 70’s. Josh leaned over to Trevor, gritting his teeth with his guitar in the air and crashed into a crescendo lyric, Hit me with that music.’ Indeed.

You know those favorite bands you have, that over the years, you know you can see them in any place and at any time, with the realistic expectation of a great night? Like many of us, you may be able to count those groups on one hand. Well after seeing these guys, you will most certainly have save a finger for Tea Leaf. Great musicians, better people and a fresh, new sound that sets this band apart from the rest. You can see them interact with not only each other, but with total strangers, and the thing that resonates very clearly is the fact that these are just good people giving out great vibes.

After the show, the crowd as a whole looked physically drained and clothes were drenched with sweat. Thank you for the happy ending.

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