Jackie Greene

Jackie Greene (9:30 PM)

The Saint Johns (8:30 PM)

Wed, August 12, 2015

8:00 pm


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Jackie Greene - (Set time: 9:30 PM)
Jackie Greene
"We live in such a fast-paced, hectic environment, I wanted to make a record that would invite people to step back and take their time to listen," Jackie Greene says of Back to Birth, his first album in five years. "I wanted to make a record that would reward people who are willing to sit down and give it a couple of serious listens."

Back to Birth - Greene's seventh album and his Yep Roc Records debut - is more than worthy of some serious attention. The 11-song set showcases the multitalented artist's uncanny knack for synthesizing his deep affinity for American roots styles into timeless, personally-charged music. Armed with a persuasive voice, a vivid songwriting skill and an instinctive mastery of several instruments, Greene has carved out a unique musical niche, and the album marks another creative landmark in his already compelling body of work.

Produced by Los Lobos member and frequent Greene collaborator Steve Berlin, Back to Birth underlines Greene's remarkable evolution as a performer and writer. With such new compositions as "Silver Lining," "Trust Somebody," "Now I Can See For Miles," and the stirring title track, the artist's distinctive melodic sensibility is matched with thoughtful, introspective lyrics that confront some profound philosophical issues with plainspoken eloquence.

"Musically, this album is kind of a return to the simplicity of the records that I started with, although I feel like I have a much better idea of what I'm doing now," Greene observes. "I think the lyrics are the part that have really evolved. A lot of these songs explore the notion of a cyclical existence, and the sense that life goes in a circle. I want the songs to come from a place that's meaningful to me, but I also want to keep them as simple and direct as I can. I look at old blues songs, or Hank Williams songs, and they're so simple and direct but they can convey some pretty deep ideas."

Although Back to Birth is Greene's first new solo release in five years, he's hardly been idle. In fact, he's spent much of the past few years engaging in a series of collaborative musical adventures that have teamed him with several notable veterans.

In 2013, Greene joined the reunited Black Crowes as lead guitarist on their worldwide tour, and the following year released the self-titled debut album of supergroup Trigger Hippy, which Greene is a member of along with Joan Osborne and Crowes drummer Steve Gorman. Greene continues to be a frequent member of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s touring ensemble Phil Lesh & Friends, for which he has contributed lead guitar and vocals since 2007. Greene also toured as part of WRG, an acoustic trio with the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir and Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson, and he performed with Levon Helm as part of Helm's fabled Midnight Ramble shows.

The same qualities that attracted such legendary figures to work with Greene are prominent throughout Back to Birth, which Greene and producer Berlin cut at Portland's Supernatural Sound with a sympathetic crew of mostly jazz-steeped players, with Greene stretching out on a number of instruments, including guitar, piano, organ and drums.

"This is the third album I've done with Steve," he says. "I've known him for about 12 years, and he's really good at challenging me and getting it out of me. We know each other well enough at this point that we can be blunt with each other, and he'll tell me that I'm full of it if that's what I need to hear."

The musical passion and creative integrity that drive Back to Birth have been constants in Jackie Greene's musical life from the start. While growing up in Northern California, he taught himself to play piano and guitar. His musical reference points shifted radically when, at the age of 14, he ran across a cache of his parents' vintage rock, country, blues and R&B LPs in the family's basement.

Still in his teens and inspired by his discoveries, Greene began writing songs and performing them at a local coffeehouse while recording his compositions in his makeshift garage studio and burning CDRs to sell at his gigs. He saved the money he made selling those discs to fund his debut album, the self-produced, self-released Rusty Nails. Despite being a D.I.Y. release with minimal promotion, the disc received substantial regional attention from fans and press alike.

His popularity led to a deal with a local independent label, which released his second album, Gone Wanderin', in late 2002. The disc won considerable national attention, leading to a series of national tours opening for the likes of B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi, Huey Lewis, Mark Knopfler and Taj Mahal.

Greene continued to win critical acclaim and expand his fan base with 2004's Sweet Somewhere Bound and 2006's American Myth. In 2007, Greene began moonlighting with Phil Lesh and Friends, while continuing his own musical evolution with his own releases Giving Up the Ghost and Till the Light Comes, released in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

"The musicians that I really admire and try to emulate are the ones who have the whole package: they're great songwriters, great singers and great instrumentalists, and they have a vibe about them that's real," he states, adding, "When I go to make a record, I'm not thinking about where I can fit in a bunch of guitar solos. I'm thinking, 'What does this song feel like? What's it saying?' So my goal, when writing a song or making a record, is to find the core of that emotional experience and convey that."

Although he's already racked up a multitude of impressive musical achievements, Greene isn't one to look back. Instead, he continues to look to the future - and looks forward to getting back on the road to bring Back to Birth's soulful songcraft to the loyal, wildly diverse fan base that he's built through talent, vision and hard work.

"I still plan on making a lot of different kinds of records in the future, but I can't tell you what they're going to sound like, because I really have no idea," he asserts. "All I can do is write songs and make music as honestly as I can. That's what I believe people appreciate about what I do. They trust me to be honest with them, and I'd never want to abuse that trust."
The Saint Johns - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
The Saint Johns
Jordan Meredith and Louis
Johnson of The Saint Johns
have the ingredient every
special duo needs: chemistry.
Theirs is the kind of relationship where
neither finishes a sentence because the
other already gets it in just a few words.
It’s the kind of relationship that starts at
a friend’s Taco Tuesday party in St.
Augustine, Florida, in 2008. And it’s a
relationship everyone assumes is
romantic. But this meet-cute has an
unusual ending – it doesn’t end in
marriage, but a beautiful
partnership nevertheless that has
yielded The Saint Johns’ debut album
Dead of Night.
“I met Jordan at a party and she happened to have a guitar,” Johnson said. “All of our friends were
either hooking up or drunk or sleeping and we just stayed up playing shitty covers of Jack Johnson
songs until our ears were bleeding. We were definitely impressed by each other.” Not long after,
Meredith landed a gig at a local bar and invited Johnson to help fill a few long sets. Seven years later
as they prepare to release their major-label debut, Meredith and Johnson believe they’ve put in their
10,000 hours and have arrived at something pretty special.
“I think we’ve always understood that we create music together that we would never be able to create
on our own,” Meredith said. “We have this sort of weird yin-and-yang thing.”
They moved to New York to make it big – “We ended up just being broke.” Johnson said –
but nevertheless used the time to write and play together every day. They moved to Nashville
to regroup and The Saint Johns – named for the river that flows through the heart of their native
Florida – began to truly come into focus. They played shows anywhere and everywhere relentlessly –
“some good, some bad, some empty” – and released a well-received EP, Open Water, that got the duo
immediate support from the critics and the industry and helped land its first television appearance,
“Late Show with David Letterman.”
That EP captured the sweet Americana soul of the band’s early sound. Recorded with a full band,
Dead of Night is something more – more mature, more confident, more ambitious. The album, which
comes out in early 2016 on Kemosabe Records, producer Dr. Luke’s partnership with Sony Music,
began with demo recordings Johnson made. The two took them to David Kahne, a Grammy Awardwinning
producer and record label executive who’s worked with Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, The
Strokes, Lana Del Rey, Fishbone and many others.

“His process is just insane,” Johnson said. “David knows what he wants all the time. So he overhauled
a lot of what we had and it all ended up with the same feel, but elevated.”
“So much bigger,” Meredith echoed.
“I guess I was always afraid to put big kick drums in there and really have the groove be at
the forefront.” Johnson continued. “But David is so good at making sure the grooves are right, that they
push through and punch you in the face. That’s something he brought to the record so beautifully that I
don’t think we would ever have gotten there on our own.”
A group of songs began to stand out in the studio. The deeply personal “Shadowplay” will be the first
song to radio, an unofficial release that captures the duo’s close harmony and exposed feelings in a
way that reminds you of Low’s measured sense of drama. Meredith and Johnson wrote the song with
friend Jake Etheridge, a Nashville singer-songwriter with a large following in Europe.
“I had a lyric and a melody started and the boys were kind of making fun of me because it was so
emotional,” Meredith said. “But the further we got into it and the more the song developed, I realized
how therapeutic the song was for me. Shadowplay talks about pulling a loved one out of darkness, out
of depression. I think it was what I needed to hear at that time in my life.”
The track was the first overwhelmingly successful co-write outside the core duo and encouraged them
to do many more. “We tried to add Jake to our band, but he’s basically a pop star in Holland, so that’s
never going to happen,” Meredith said.
So they turned to Vince Schumerman for assistance on first single “Lost the Feeling” – a song, like
most of their co-writes, that was written in the band’s dining room. The running-through-the-night vibe
of the song is the duo’s nod to Fleetwood Mac and their shared love for Rumours.
“It’s a grooving song about heartbreak,” Meredith said. “We have a hard time not writing depressing
songs. It was nice to have someone to pull us out of our dark corner. Although, lyrically the song is still
Another dining-room diamond is “Dead of Night,” the album’s title track, written with Meredith’s
husband, JT Daly. It’s a ‘90s rocker with telecaster in your face: “It sounds happy until you listen to the
lyrics and find out that it’s a desperate plea from one person to another,” Johnson said.
“I think the theme we found running through the album is the really beautiful juxtaposition between
dark and light, so that title just seemed so fitting for the album,” Meredith said. “The song itself can
speak for the entire album in a way. It’s a special song.”
Venue Information:
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069

All lineups and times subject to change