TLG/Hackensaw Boys | 01.24.09 | D.C.

Words by: Josh Klemons | Images by: Ben Root

Tea Leaf Green/Hackensaw Boys :: 01.24.09 :: 9:30 Club :: Washington, D.C.

Hackensaw Boys :: 01.24 :: Washington, D.C.
When a show starts promptly at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night, the opening band can usually expect to be playing for a sparsely filled dance floor. Typically, only the faithful, the headliner's diehard fans will be there to claim spots in the front, along with a few loyal fans of the opener who made their way out early. However, this was not the case last Saturday in Washington, D.C. Tea Leaf Green was the headliner, but Charlottesville's Hackensaw Boys kicked off the evening to a crowded room that was hungry to dance. In fact, by four or five songs into their hour-long set, the room was nearing capacity - not an easy feat for an opening band on a cold, winter night. They opened with "Radio" and only pushed harder and faster from there.

The Hackensaw Boys descended from the mountain, in part to scare your children, in part to inspire them. With a Kerouacian sense of timing, they beat and they bow and they hack away on instruments including upright bass, mandolin, guitar, banjo, fiddle, squeezebox and assorted tin cans. Yes, Justin "Salvage" Neuhardt, their percussionist, has built an entire drum set out of tin cans, half of which he wears like a marching band getup straight out of Sanford & Son. He plays spoons and a snare drum with his brushes, but the majority of his rhythms come directly from banging away on bruised, empty tin cans. He also uses the cans' ridges as a Guiro to add complications and delicacy. They are all solid players, but when fiddler Ferd "Four" Moyse steps up to the mic or takes a solo on his violin, which he alternately bangs on with his bow or frays to the point of concern, time and place become debatable. Why couldn't we all be in the mountains of North Carolina or Kentucky? Why couldn't it be the 1940's? He throws his bow on the floor just to be dramatic, and then pulls the mic down with him while he goes down to get it, never missing a beat.

They got a big response with their take on Dylan's "Gospel Plow." With one or two songs left in the set, mandolinist Rob "Mahlon" Bullington informed us that they do not get paid unless they actually warm the crowd up. "How did we do?" he asked. The answer was self-evident; and they probably should have made time and a half on this particularly cold D.C. night.

Tea Leaf Green :: 01.24 :: Washington, D.C.
Tea Leaf Green took the stage to a packed house and opened strong with "One Reason." When they played "Reservoir" early in the first set there was extra emphasis on the line, "This is the season for change." It had a special meaning for this crowd, just days after the largest inauguration in U.S. history. Keyboardist-lead singer Trevor Garrod's organ solo echoed Ray Manzarek (The Doors) under the solid rhythm section of Scott Rager (drums) and Reed Mathis (bass). Anyone who has never seen Mathis with his old band, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, can arguably not really understand exactly what is possible on the four strings of an electric bass. I have seen Mathis with JFJO, The Greyboy Allstars, The Steve Kimock Band and Tea Leaf Green. He is a different bassist for each project, which I suppose is a testament to his talent and professionalism as a musician. When he was supposed to be sitting in the pocket this night, he sat in the pocket. When he was supposed to be adding to and accentuating a solo, from either guitarist Josh Clark or Garrod, he knew exactly what to do. When it was time for him to open up on "Don't Curse the Night," he knew exactly how to get the capacity crowd moving and thumping with his big octave runs and long neck sweeps. They got dirty and gritty, Southern Fried rock style with "I've Got a Truck," replete with a solid slide guitar showing from Clark. They closed out the first set with a dead-on version of Crosby, Stills and Nash's "Wooden Ships" directly into "Gassaholic."

When they came back out for set two, just minutes after midnight, there were balloons taped all over Garrod's rig. He was spending the first hours of his birthday with us, and he was clearly excited about it. He put on a paper birthday hat that he wore for the remainder of the show, and they quickly let us know that first set was but a taste of the evening that lay ahead. They played straight through the 70-minute second set, rarely stopping between songs, just rolling from one to the next. They opened with "Freedom," which at times sounded like Spinal Tap had taken the stage. When they pushed forward into "Incandescent Devil," Garrod got up on his bench and rocked out on harmonica. Several times during the set, Mathis walked over to Garrod and used his bass to sing him "Happy Birthday." As the set moved towards its conclusion, Mathis and Garrod did a duel intro into "Keeping the Faith" that showed they still had a few more in them. They closed out the set with "Devil's Pay," then exited stage right, but were back before the crowd even had a chance cool down. They knew they were up against time constraints and they were going to play right up until last call. The two-song encore began with a new one, "Monster," much to the crowd's delight. There were sections of it that could have come straight off a Yes album. They closed the show with rock & roller "Panspermic," and sent the crowd back into the cold D.C. night.

Continue reading for a few more pics...

Hackensaw Boys
Josh Clark - Tea Leaf Green
Birthday Boy - Tea Leaf Green

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CoreyBauer Thu 1/29/2009 02:22PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

TLG rocks... yes

But old TLG... really rocks.... alot more i would say

Glad to see a review of them though... no setlist?

I can tell you that they did not play anything milky.... ( Planet of green love, asphault funk, ) .. cus they got no milk ... and no sour cream... :(

CoreyBauer Thu 1/29/2009 02:22PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

and PS

I like extra sour cream!!!!

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/29/2009 02:46PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


hackensaw boys always seem to open for crappy bands. they fucking rule!

sitdancer starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/29/2009 03:53PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I am impressed every time I see TLG live. But unlike Corey, I really like the direction they have taken since adding Reed. Both incarnations had their upsides for sure, and I always had a lot of fun when Ben was still in the band, but with Reed I feel like they have taken their music to a whole new level.

And btw. Asphalt Funk has made a comeback recently, it has been played quite a bit in 2009 and already last fall (I do remember it being played at the Richmond show for example).

moephishH2O starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/29/2009 04:03PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I love TLG. While I love Ben C on the bass, Reed has been an excellent addition. Can't wait to see them tomorrow with moe. in Denver!!

adventuresinperception starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/29/2009 04:18PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Sez me,

Tea Leaf Green is the shit. One of the best things going right now.

With that said, I felt that the literally prowess of the review was lacking. The article didnt flow nicely enough, Mathis has never been a member of the greyboy allstars (he has played with the robert walter trio), and I would reserve kerouac-ian typically for post-bop jazz.

but really, TLG is melts my face

Mark Price former NBA star Thu 1/29/2009 04:27PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Mark Price former NBA star

Can't wait to see TLG tommrow night opening for MOE. I'm more excited to see TLG than I am Moe. and I love moe. Hopfully Josh Clark rips it up tommrow night, its always fun when he's on fire

Chapelchilla starstarstarstarstar Thu 1/29/2009 07:18PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

TLG has been great lately. Reed has really found his spot in the band and it's all starting to work again. Go see em if you can, you won't regret it.

URTH2URTH starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/30/2009 04:46AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i have no respect musically for anyone who thinks these guys suck. i even like their new direction, their new album is great. mathis is tight with them especially live. one of my favorite bands. keep it up!

tootyp starstarstar Fri 1/30/2009 06:56AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I know I'm gonna get blasted for saying this, but I feel like Tea Leaf is kind of...boring. I know that I should like them, they have all the necessary parts to an awesome band. They're all awesome musicians, have a shredding lead guitarists, virtuoso bassist, solid keys player, rock drummer. But for some reason it just doesn't do anything for me. I think maybe their songs aren't that spectacular, or maybe I don't love Trevor's voice, I don't know. I was at this show and had a good time, but when I left I was kind of like, "eh". Very perplexing.

Bombsoverbaghdad Fri 1/30/2009 07:11AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This DC show was the first time I've seen TLG and I was not impressed. I really wanted to be blown away, but sadly I was not. Reed was awesome, great stage presence and just REALLY good. I just could not get into Josh's solos. Too crazy/busy all the time?! And the Hackensaw Boys just came across as a gimmick. I didn't get it. Don't see too much talent in that band.

CoreyBauer Fri 1/30/2009 07:24AM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

not saying reed isn't good ...

but the shows were funner with ben C front right

sschaffner Fri 1/30/2009 11:24AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


denver is going to be rockin' tonight, joy! somebody write me a doctor's note and get me a beer! if only the hackensaw boys we're tagging along, wow... i'd really like to see that drum kit all up close n personal

bigchris starstarstarstar Fri 1/30/2009 01:07PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

nice review. I too miss the old Ben C days like Corey. I think TLG is still finding their sound with the new lineup. Good to hear they packed the house in DC. Looking forward to the Fillmore.

T. Ralph starstarstarstarstar Fri 1/30/2009 01:56PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Nice sell out in DC--which was an exclamation point on an incredible tour. The ATL and Charlotte (SBD here: shows were windows into the possibilities TLG 2.0. Reed has found his place w/ these great musicians.

mattguff9 Fri 1/30/2009 07:49PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


hackensaw boys are a dangerous band to have as an opener. The anti-climactic headliner stands as a strong possibility. They are the best band around and they tour harder than ANYONE on the road.

gregboyer starstarstarstar Sat 1/31/2009 11:13AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This sounds like a great time. I hope nobody got pissed off or pissed on, it being the 9:30 Club.

HillbillyHophead304 starstarstar Mon 2/2/2009 04:09PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Slow down train look out dog!!!

Hackensaw Boys are footstompin, hand clappin, hoot and hollerin fuckin fun. They can get the sawdust movin and the beer bottles clangin.

Awsome friggin band. Flatfootin forever.