Monday, December 31, 2007

Tea Leaf Green @ State Theater

For the first time I had a chance to see Tea Leaf Green as they continued their national tour through the Washington D.C. area to the State Theater. I had read great reviews of this band - but what we experienced was awesome. We arrived during a wicked drum solo, followed by another half hour of funky - jammin music by Jimmies Chicken Shack - a local band with a hardcore group of followers. After a brief set change - it seemed as if the front doors re-opened as waves of people moved towards the stage. When Tea Leaf Green opened with Red Ribbons I immediately thought out loud that this group had outgrown this venue. Not only was their sound too big - but also the size of the audience. By the time they finished Jezebel and Don't Curse the Night during their first set, I was wondering if this is how music lovers felt thirty years ago following the Allman Brothers or Grateful Dead in smaller venues.

What makes Tea Leaf Green so impressive starts with the guitar work of Josh Clark. He just plays a tight guitar which is backed by the rhythm of Trevor Garrod on the keyboards. Finally Reed Mathis and Scott Rager round out the group on bass and drums. But Josh Clark is the man as seen in their opening song of the second set: The Devil's Pay and then the Baseball Song. By the time they played Incandescent Devil I hoped they'd go on all night. This is one band I will travel to see and purchase Rock 'n' Roll Band or Taught to Be Proud.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bob Schneider @ Jammin Java

Last night, December 13th, I was able to attend the first of two Bob Schneider acoustic shows at my home town music venue: Jammin' Java. I have previously seen Bob play at festivals and show with his band - so this was a unique opportunity to see him alone - and interact with the audience. We were able to witness his sense of humor, from the self depravity to softly heckling noisy patrons. Then there's the songs. I had followed news group postings of other performances and heard that the show was the "cleanest" people had ever heard. Not this time. After starting with a couple crowd favorites from Lonelyland, he broke into several songs not suitable for many audiences - both the songs and the stories behind the songs were hilarious. In between these adult songs, he mixed in more favorites from I'm Good Now and The Californian - playing either the acoustic guitar, keyboard, piano, and even the trumpet. What an expert. Then there was the last song before the encore with the Philadelphia Allstars. What a trip - words can't describe - you have to see. For an encore, he played three songs ending with the longest version of Batterang that I have ever heard, intertwining Vienna into the story.

I strongly recommend seeing Bob Schneider - either on this acoustic tour or with his band. It is a pleasure to view an artist that is comfortable in his ability to have fun and interact with the audience.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Children's Shows @ Jammin' Java

One of my favorite venues - least of all since its about a mile from my house - is Jammin' Java, a coffee house that hosts nightly music on their backstage. Over the past few years I've been able to see great acts such as Billy Joe Shaver, Marah, Todd Snider, Bob Schneider, and the Greencards; but the most enjoyable ones have been seeing my son dance to the various kid's shows. Every weekday morning the venue provides a different artist as well as occasional shows over the weekend. No need to pay the ridiculous prices of corporate shows (i.e. Sesame Street, DoodleBops) as most shows are under $10. My son's favorite is Rocknoceros and their clever CD: Dark Side of the Moon Bounce. Rocknoceros plays every Wednesday morning, but also check Jammin' Java's schedule to see Miss Belle, Mr. Don, Oh Susannah, Mr. Knick Knack, and The Banjo Man.

On weekends, national acts come to town. We recently went to see The Dirty Sock Funtime Band in which I think I enjoyed the music as much as the children. They are a real rock band - just a little more goofier - and they have great interaction with the kids. Just wait to see the kids dance to Dino-Soaring. In the next month you will have the chance to see The Dream Jam Band, the Rocknoceros Holiday Party and Sing-a-long, and the much anticipated "Robbie-noceros" New Years Eve Party for Kids - featuring local favorite Robbie Schaefer. I know where I will be New Years eve.