Tea Leaf Green
JF with Tea Leaf Green
BEN CHAMBERS is the son of my lifelong friend JERRY CHAMBERS (the guy who gave me my first guitar). As Ben grew up, he became like a close nephew to Susie and I. Ben had studied classical piano, but had become interested in poetry and maybe playing guitar in a rock band. I gave him some advice; I said “Guitar players are a dime a dozen. If you want to work, learn how to play bass”. Unlike most people I have given advice to, Ben actually took it.
I soon heard from Ben that he had joined a band with three other guys, backing a female singer. As a few weeks passed, with Ben telling me how good the band was, their singer told them that they weren’t what she was looking for. The keyboard player, Ben said, was also a singer and had some good songs. I arranged to meet them at a rehearsal studio they had rented, and I was very surprised how good these guys were. TREVOR GARROD, the keyboard player and singer had a great voice and some very clever songs. He was a really good keyboard player and could also play guitar if need be. JOSH CLARK was a phenominal lead guitar player with lots of fast, fluid and flashy licks. SCOTT RAGER was a very good drummer and played well with Ben.
Because Ben was like a member of the family, I worked with the band that would become TEA LEAF GREEN, advancing the band over 200 hours to produce their self-titled first album. Susie engineered the basic tracks and mixed the album, and I engineered the overdub sessions. Susie and I sat down with their manager and gave them strategies and contacts for gigs. I talked my friend into giving them a night at the famous ELBO ROOM in San Francisco’s Mission District.
During the production of the album, I encouraged the band to expand some of Trevors very tight arrangements with some jamming. Very soon after we finished the album, so-called "Jam-Based” music started to become popular because of PHISH, The STRING CHEESE INCIDENT and others. TLG jumped on that bandwagon early, but then considered their tightly arranged studio album of songs to not be representative of their “new” style.
I stayed in contact with the band for a couple of years, sat in with them a couple of times, and even offered to produce a new album. The issue with getting paid back from the first album was a little “sticky” because of my relationship with Ben and his dad.
The band became wildly successful, working with DAVE MATHEWS and touring. After a while, Ben decided to leave the band and become a teacher. Soon after that, someone I know alerted me to the fact that the album was on Surfdog Records! Behind my back! In the end, they were pressured and paid the studio bill (big of them!). They still owe me 20%! I just listened to some of the album we did again, and I think it’s some of the best work they ever did in the studio.