Jackie Greene Keeps Americana Alive

By Paige Beyer ’18

Screen-Shot-2015-07-01-at-7.44.19-AMHe’s played with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Levon Helm of The Band, has toured with B.B. King and The Black Crowes, and recently released his seventh album, Back to Birth.

And that’s just the beginning.

At just thirty-four years old, singer-songwriter Jackie Greene already has the resume of a seasoned musician. Born Chris Nelson in Salinas, California, Greene showed an interest in music from a young age, playing both piano and guitar. Greene composed and recorded songs throughout his teenage years, selling his own burned CDs. With the money he saved, he recorded and released his first full-length album, Rusty Nails, independently.

In 2002 Greene released Gone Wanderin’ — his first album with record label Dig Music — which received national acclaim, including a California Music Award for Best Blues/Roots Album in 2003. Since then, Greene has released six more albums and has been a part of countless side projects; one of which includes the supergroup Trigger Hippy, composed of Joan Osborne and Steve Gorman of The Black Crowes. His touring accolades comprise of Gov’t Mule, Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, and Los Lobos, and he’s made appearances at major festivals such as Gathering of the Vibes, Newport Folk, Bonnaroo, South by Southwest, and Grateful Garcia Gathering.

Having been compared to the likes of Bob Dylan, Greene’s strength lies in his songwriting, as he values the emotion in the final product of a song. His latest record, Back to Birth (released in August) is a rather stripped-down album composed mostly of ballads. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. It’s an album that requires attention, the act of truly listening.

“I wanted to make a record that would reward people who are willing to sit down and give it a couple of serious listens,” Greene says of Back to Birth on his website.

Greene is worth a listen for not only for his musicianship and songwriting, but perhaps more importantly because he reminds us to appreciate the music and its process, enjoying it for what it is.

Greene plays the Musica Theater in Akron, OH Wednesday September 30th.