Josh Clark is taking a stand. It is a few days before Christmas, a week before Tea Leaf Green begins its four-show end-of-the-year run that hits Falls Church Friday, Dec. 29 at the State Theatre. The band may be ending its year in Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve, but for the Tea Leaf Green guitarist, there’s no time like the present to put his foot down.
“I am hereby standing up for all of Jam-Band-kind,” he says. “It’s time for us not to be afraid of who we are.”
The conversation leading up to the impromptu stump speech had been innocent enough. The question that triggered the rhetorical speech could have been answered with a simple “yes” or “no” — Are you guys comfortable carrying the jam band label?
“It’s annoying that being a jam band you get pigeon holed,” Clark starts off slowly. “It’s never enjoyable to be written off before they’ve even listened to you.”
It continues to build.
“But everyone has to have a genre, which is stupid, because it’s a stupid little word anyway … ‘genre.’”
Preach on my improvisational brother.
“We once had a woman who sang with us and I still remember her storming off as she was quitting and saying ‘You’re just another bloody jam band.’”
And a flourish for the finish.
“It’s not about the right looks, jeans or fancy pants,” Clark says. “I’m proud to be in a jam band. The best musicians in the world flock to this scene.”
Clark knows first hand about that last point. Not only have Tea Leaf Green snagged their own award, a Jammy for the title track off their latest studio album, Taught to be Proud, they’ve also shared the stage with modern musical legends like Warren Haynes and Trey Anastasio. Those famous cats even came out to join in on some of Tea Leaf Green’s original tunes.
“It was a dream come true. Literally,” Clark says of the opportunity to play with Anastasio. “When I was growing up I always had dreams about playing on stage with Phish. In that sense it was completely surreal, but in the end it was a great jam. It was definitely something for the grandkids.”
Clark and the rest of Tea Leaf Green (Ben C., Scott Rager and Trevor Garrod) are looking to give their fans something memorable as well, on the year-ending four-show tour. The plan is to play a completely new setlist every night, no repeats, no song played twice. In fact, the band has the sets all scripted out already, but Clark isn’t about to share.
“No presents before Christmas,” he jokes.
• For more information on the band, visit www.tealeafgreen.com.