Jackie Greene @ The Fox Theatre | 1.14.12
Discussing the imminent release of “Giving Up the Ghost,” his fifth album and first on 429 Records, Jackie Greene – singer and songwriter, guitarist and keyboard player, acoustic solo artist and electrifying band leader – hesitates to spell things out too much.
“Could we leave some questions unanswered?” he asks. “So people can make up their own minds about things?” Many people have already made up their minds about Jackie Greene, the Americana phenom from Sacramento who made his first album only six years ago and has steadily built up a passionate following among both rank-and-file fans and some of the biggest names in music. Tours with a who’s-who of American roots music - Buddy Guy, Elvis Costello, Susan Tedeschi, Willie Nelson, B.B. King and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott among them – and performances everywhere from the Newport Folk Festival and the Monterey Jazz Festival to Bonnaroo, have meant that Greene was recognized quickly by those who know talent, and who saw something rare and promising in him. Their early enthusiasm has only grown with each new album.
Nevertheless, Greene himself is less and less keen on defining himself in a world that wants him to be its latest “New Dylan.” Instead, 27-year-old Greene is thinking big - about death or, more accurately, transformation. He named his new, game-changing album Giving Up the Ghost for a reason. “The phrase refers to the destruction of certain notions and practices that I used to hold in high esteem,” he says. “I’m just sorta sick of being the kid with the harmonica rack. I don’t want to be Bob Dylan.”
And as he prepares his band to head out for another year of serious touring, Greene is giving himself and his band the same sort of license he gave himself as a songwriter. “The recording is the recording, and the live show is the live show, and in my mind that’s different, it sounds way different, and that’s good,” he says. “Live is still the best way to experience music, because it’s pretty pure. If you want to hear something the same way over and over, you can listen to the record, but if you want to hear the song, you go hear it live."