Photos and Review by Chandler Mays
If you end up as a touring guitarist with Phil Lesch and Friends, it’s safe to say that you’re a talented musician. Jackie Greene is known for being the youngest lead guitarist to infiltrate the Dead circle, but more importantly, through hard work and undeniable talent, he has established himself as a veritable musical force on the touring circuit today. He plays alternative roots rock that sounds much better live than on an album due to his charismatic cowboy-like stage presence as well as his ability to give audiences a unique live experience through improvisation and technical prowess. With a less polished, less “LA” vibe, Jackie sounds like a more soulful version of Ryan Adams, and one can’t help but draw comparisons to Bob Dylan due to his visionary lyrical worldview and harmonica playing.
Giving his numerous excited fans an exceptional friday night, Jackie Greene and his talented band put on a rollicking performance at Smith’s Olde Bar. His setlist covered a healthy variety of popular hits, deep cuts, and surprisingly awesome covers. Being a big Grateful Dead fan, I was very pleased when the band stepped on stage and broke right into “Bertha“. The crowd danced around and raised their glasses while singing, “Test me, test me. Why don’t you arrest me?” This set the bar at a 10, which became par for the course throughout the entire set. Jackie is quite the proficient multi-instrumentalist, and after a few numbers on the guitar, he switched places with the keyboardist for a spell. It was during this part of the show that the band played a passionate instrumental jam that really sent the crowd into a frenzy.
During his performance of “Shaken“, off the 2009 album Giving Up the Ghost, I found myself in a reflective state. Jackie sang, “I believe the things we say keep us deceived. They get in the way. We run around, we move too fast, and that’s the reason nothing lasts.” I made sure to take a moment and soak in the message before I started grooving again, because sadly, the show wouldn’t last either. On “So Hard To Find My Way“, all the couples paired off and started swinging each other around as Jackie sang of disillusioned working class people, down on their luck and looking for a way out. The most applauded cover of the night was unquestionably their playful rendition of “Benny and the Jets“. The keyboardist pounded out the chords as if he were trying to wake up Elton himself, and the crowd ate up the performance, especially during the ‘Benny’ call-and-response portion. For a friday night in Atlanta, Jackie Greene at Smith’s Olde Bar was positively a highlight for everyone involved, and due to the turnout, it surely won’t be long before he and his band grace us with their presence for another night of rockin’, and I’ll make sure to be there again.
Full Gallery after the jump…