Tea Leaf Green brews up a fresh show

San Francisco-based psychedelic jam rock foursome Tea Leaf Green is bringing its sweet-sounding riffs and sweeping piano solos to the State Theater in St. Petersburg tonight.

The group released its first studio album, Tea Leaf Green in 1999, and since then has released three more as well as their latest live album, Rock n Roll Band, in October.

Tea Leaf Green has a laid-back roots rock sound that is prone to lengthy improvisation, giving it the feel of a rock outfit with a side of jam. Relying on a simple musical setup of bass, piano, guitar and drums, the group manages to push its mellow rhythms past the stereotypes associated with its genre.

From left to right: Scott Rager (drummer), Ben C. (bass/vocals), Trevor Garrod (keyboard/vocals), Josh Clark (guitar/vocals) comprise the band Tea Leaf Green.Special to the Oracle

Simply put, Tea Leaf Green is not a rehashed mash-up of the Grateful Dead, Trey Anastasio or Dave Matthews Band.

Although relatively young, Tea Leaf Green has received accolades already. In 2006, it was awarded a Jammy – an award that honors those who thrive in a live music environment – for “Taught to Be Proud,” which won song of the year.

Reflecting that success, the band is playing at several major music festivals this year, including Bonnaroo (Manchester, Tenn.), Langerado (Sunrise) and the McDowell Mountain Music Festival (Scottsdale, Ariz.).

Early in their careers, the members of Tea Leaf Green played smaller acoustic shows, and they used the pseudonym Coffee Bean Brown. Tea Leaf Green still plays acoustic shows, but that name is no longer used.

In the end, all one needs to know is that this is a group known for its live performances. The band thrives on stage, improvising and extending songs into twisting, turning hypnotic journeys.

Anastasio recognized this and asked them to open for his tour, often coming on stage to play with Tea Leaf Green during its sets. The band encourages recording of its shows where the venues allow. The group asks that fans trade their live recordings among each other, but that no money be used as part of the transaction. Tea Leaf Green lists which venues prohibit recording on its Web site. The State Theater does not prohibit recording.

So feel free to grab a voice recorder, camcorder, digital camera and head to the State Theater to join the teeming masses of fans who have already seen what Tea Leaf Green is brewing, to take a sip yourself.

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