Smile Politely

Kick Out the Jams with Tea Leaf Green at Canopy on Sunday

Most weekends, a little Sunday evening psychedelia would interfere with the beginning of the work week come Monday morning. Not so this week, as the Labor Day holiday will free up most of us to check out one of the nation’s most popular jam bands, Tea Leaf Green, on Sunday night at the Canopy Club. 56 Hope Road starts things off at 9 p.m., and advance tickets are $12.

After the jump, check out an interview with Tea Leaf Green guitarist and vocalist Josh Clark.

Clark and I traded e-mails yesterday, the band’s off day as they traveled from Minneapolis to Milwaukee. Tea Leaf Green, based out of San Francisco, is reunited this week after a break in their summer touring schedule, followed by a few dates with the band members’ individual side projects.

Smile Politely: How’s the tour going? It looks like this is your first week in a while playing as TLG. Has that been a welcome break?

Josh Clark: Yes, I always like to take a week off from actually touching the guitar. I come back more inspired. I did some fishing and crabbing off the piers in SF.

SP: How do crowds in the Midwest receive your shows differently than on the coasts? How about any differences between playing before thousands at Bonnaroo or 10KLF compared to several hundred at the Canopy Club?

JC: As for the difference between the Midwest and the coasts, I have never really noticed a difference. As for the difference between the number of people at a show, I find that the smaller, the harder I have to work to entertain them. With the smaller crowd, you run the risk of people leaving!

SP: Any band that describes themselves as “jam” will inevitably be compared to the Dead. Do you welcome that comparison, and how would you say your style is similar to and different from them?

JC: I would never refuse the comparisons, as it is very good company to be in. Differences would be sonically, we are more aggressive musically. Similarities would be lyrical and the story telling aspect of our songbook.

SP: What sorts of music did you listen to when you were growing up? What was your favorite album when you were 12?

JC: I did not develop a taste for music on my own until I was 15 and I found the Beatles.
Before that, I was a slave to my bother’s tastes which ran the gamut from Run DMC to Warrant. Once I started playing the guitar, I listened to all the great guitarists.

SP: Who would you say are your influences, and have they changed over the years?

JC: Yes, my influences change everyday. I can be influenced by something on the radio at any given time. Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and George Harrison.

SP: How did winning the “Best New Song” Jammy change things for you guys?

JC: Raised our profile and increased the reach of our music. The tangible result was more folks at shows.

SP: How much of your live show is improvised? What can folks coming out Sunday expect?

JC: Every song has a section that lends itself to improv, but the total percentage of the show is relatively low. Our songs have structure that tether our jams. When folks come to our shows, they should expect to have a few cocktails and dance!

SP: Have you playing played in C-U before? If not, how do you picture it?

JC: Yes, we have been there before. Ian, the promoter, has been a fantastic friend to this band.

SP: What was working with David Lowery [producer of their latest album] like? Will you be playing “Take the Skinheads Bowling” at the show?

JC: We would love to play that song if the opportunity ever arose. David would have to be a part of it! Working with David was seamless. It was like working with an old friend.

If you’re still on the fence, here’s a video of the band performing “Taught to Be Proud” in concert.

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