If there’s a commemorative tablet somewhere inscribed with the names of the most unlikely people to be drawn into the Grateful Dead’s musical universe, Jackie Greene should be chiseled on it along with Pop/Jazz pianist Bruce Hornsby and former Tubes keyboardist Vince Welnick.
It’s been seven years since Dead legend Phil Lesh contacted Greene to do a little off-the-cuff jamming, which led to Lesh offering Greene the opportunity to play guitar and front the band on his Phil Lesh and Friends tour. He shouldn’t have been surprised; like a lot of other people, Phil Lesh was a Jackie Greene fan.
Up to that point, Greene had conducted his Americana/Folk career on a very independent level. After learning piano and guitar as a teenager, Greene sat in with local bands and began writing and recording songs at home, burning and selling his own CDs. Greene signed with DIG Music for 2002’s Gone Wanderin’ and he self-released Rusty Nails the following year. Over the past decade, Greene has released five albums for a variety of labels, including 2008’s well-received Giving Up the Ghost and the 2009 EP, Small Tempest, which was reissued for last year’s Record Store Day.
Greene is reportedly working on a new album, but the four-year gap since 2010’s Till the Light Comes has been anything but languorous, as Greene’s association with Lesh and the Dead has turned him into something of a professional special guest. Greene has toured as part of Gov’t Mule and The Black Crowes (between commitments for Lesh), and he’s started at least two other bands, Trigger Hippy (which includes Joan Osborne and the Black Crowes’ Steve Gorman) and WRG (with the Dead’s Bob Weir and Black Crowe Chris Robinson).
We may have to wait awhile for a new solo album, but we won’t have to wait long for Jackie Greene to make great music. It seems to pour out of him no matter who he’s with or what they’re doing together.
JACKIE GREENE with RICH ROBINSON play 20th Century Theater at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10. Tickets/more information here .