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Neo-Hippie Nirvana 

The jam community shows Green Lemon much love

To some acts, the designation "jam band" is anathema, but Colorado-based group Green Lemon can hardly turn up its nose at a jam community that has so heartily embraced it.

The 8-year-old group has gathered oodles of awards from jam-based organizations, including being named "Top Band to See Live in 2005" by Jambase.com; taking the crown of "2004 New Home Grown Band of the Year" by the Home Grown Music Network; winning Relix magazine's Jam-Off Contest; and scoring a nomination for the 2006 New Groove Jammy in the much-acclaimed annual Jammy Awards.

Here's a band perfectly designed to appeal to laid-back neo-hippies of the 21st century. Its influences include reggae lite and non-threatening hip-hop (à la 311), alternative-rock icons such as U2 and The Police, '70s progressive rock, a little electronica, gentle funk and jazz-based improvisation.

The band itself has dubbed the sound "Reggadelic conceptual improv jam / Intergalactic skank music."

Just days ago, the publication Las Vegas City Life wrote the following about Green Lemon: "Hippie funk you can spin to: played out. Bong-inspired jazz jams: Phished into extinction. Suburban Rasta reggae: Even the Marleys are moving beyond that. Nope, these days to score the attention of the grilled-cheese set you need to do something new--i.e. turn '80s theme songs into spacey and euphoric explorations so superb they could force Axel Foley to trade in his badge for a bag of Aztec Gold."

A groovy quintet of handsome young slacker dudes--baseball caps, either worn backward or jauntily sideways, are well in evidence, as are Polynesian shell necklaces--Green Lemon consists of guitarists Wayne Allen and Steve Schaben, bassist Jesse Fioravanti, keyboards player John Cordero and percussionist Chris Cox. And although they can jam on long improvisations, most of them like to chip in their two cents vocally. All except Cox sing.

Green Lemon formed in 1999 in Oklahoma City and two years later moved to Ft. Collins, Colo. According to its Web site, the band started out playing in dive bars and shacks. But it has since graduated to theaters and cornered the market on playing jam-band festivals as well as playing more than 150 dates of the year on tour.

The near-constant touring has nurtured a growing fan base, dubbed Lemonheads, who faithfully follow jam-band tradition by trailing the band on the road when possible.

Now, the group is coming to Tucson to play this Saturday, Feb. 3, but it's hardly the only band on the bill.

Actually, Green Lemon will be one of many groups to play at the Third Annual Gem and Jam Show, which runs this weekend Feb 2-4 at The Hut, the hip tropical haunt on North Fourth Avenue. The event is something of an accompaniment to the annual Gem & Mineral Show madness that takes over our fair city this time of year.

Gem and Jam activities will include live music, performance painting and "workshops integrating art, music, dance, gems, jewels, mineral, creativity and sustainability."

Among the other musical acts on the bill for the weekend are such up-and-coming artists as Heavyweight Dub Champion, Zilla, Sporque, K23 Orchestra, Abstract Rude, James Christopher, BLVD, Delta Nove, The Glitch Mob, Citizen Ten, J. Tonal, Bender, ELF Gabriel, Phidelity, Chosen Few Children and Souleye. Styles range from reggae to hip-hop, from jam band music to IDM.

Jam band aficionados will be pleased to note that the Tucson date is one of only three at which Green Lemon will welcome a special guest: Charlie Hitchcock, formerly of the space-rock jam band Particle. The combination ought to make for a groovy slice of jam-band nirvana.

Green Lemon has released one CD and one single, "Shoestring," on its own independent label, but the band's real acclaim comes from its live shows.

Thus the band's forthcoming release is a live disc. To determine its tracks, the band has solicited votes from fans at its Web site, greenlemonband.com. Its MySpace site also contains live video of several songs from the 2005 Wakarusa festival.

The songs on which Green Lemon exercises a reggae bounce are pleasant, but its instrumental tracks, such as the Kraftwerk-style "Flight of the Manwe" and trance-inducing musical excursion "Intergalactic Intercourse," will have listeners swooning in a state of musical bliss whether or not they are assisted by chemicals.

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