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Tea'd off: San Francisco-based Tea Leaf Green plays two nights at Moe's Alley.

The Boys in Green

Tea Leaf Green heads to Santa Cruz this week with an updated sound and a jones for disc golf.

By Brian Harker

T HE WORLD-FAMOUS disc golf course at DeLaveaga isn't the only reason Tea Leaf Green is playing back-to-back shows in Santa Cruz this weekend, but it hasn't hurt. Put on the spot, guitarist Josh Clark laughs and says that while he is a disc golfer, the band didn't come here for the hillside links--although, he says, "Of all of the places I've played in the country, that's definitely one of the best. It's my favorite for sure."

The San Francisco jam band Tea Leaf Green, known for its breathtaking live shows, kicks off its One New Day tour with two shows at Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz this Friday and Saturday. Santa Cruz holds a special place in the hearts of the members of Tea Leaf Green, and Moe's Alley in particular has housed several stellar performances. "We've always had really good shows there, and always had a really good time," says Clark.

The band, which got its start in a back house in the Castro, has been playing for over a decade, and its members have become seasoned veterans of the road. While Clark says avid touring has allowed the band members to see a "lot of insides of bars throughout the country," he also says it's been crucial to building up their fan base. Their plan for success hasn't been music videos or excessive press but to "get in the car, get on the road and get gigs."

The encouragement of the taping and trading of their live shows has also helped build popularity. one fan at a time. As Clark explains, "It's really difficult to be a grassroots band and to get out there and get your music to people without having major label distribution." Armed with live tapes of the band, fans have proven to be an effective distribution method themselves.

Those fans are likely to hear something new at this weekend's shows. Clark says that when original bassist Ben Chambers, who started the band in 1997 with drummer Scott Rager, left in 2007, "it gave us an opportunity to sit down and think about where we wanted to go."

Tea Leaf Green took the opportunity to make a few changes to its sound. The members chose to renew their focus on songwriting and to develop more of a rock edge rather than the funk sound that Chambers had brought. The new setup nicely complements lead singer Trevor Garrod's folksy songwriting tendencies as well.

When asked what audiences can look forward to from Tea Leaf Green, Clark promises "new music, more music," and hints at a forthcoming album in 2010. While they'll be playing a few new songs in their Santa Cruz sets, they want to keep a lot of their new material under wraps so they don't burn out the fans.

And for all the frolfers out there, Clark will most likely be out on the DeLaveaga course at 2pm on Saturday before the show. So anyone interested in teeing off with Tea Leaf Green knows where to look for them.

TEA LEAF GREEN plays Friday-Saturday, Nov. 20-21, at 9pm at Moe's Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $18 advance/$20 door at

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