To his New York fans, it was a homecoming for Jackie Greene this past Friday at Town Hall. The California-born guitarist and songwriter lived in Brooklyn for many years before returning to the Sacramento area to get married and raise a family. Although he’s blissfully happy as a husband and father, Jackie is also enjoying a creative surge, releasing two six-track EPs in the past year with his Modern Lives band.
Greene has played with a long list of country, blues, and jam band legends, but he’s now firmly focused on his own music. To add depth to his always-impressive guitar, the new band has its roots in the music city of Nashville, as Nashville Recording Academy president Shannon Sanders plays keyboards and serves as musical director. Jackie’s long-time guitar partner Nathan Dale is joined by Ben Rubin on bass, Jon Lucas on drums, and Megan Coleman on percussions. The Town Hall show included a three-piece horn section that added another layer of sound and an element of swing to Jackie’s rootsy style.
Setting the mood for the evening was an impressive opening set from Samantha Fish. Her high-energy guitar got the crowd fired up and no doubt gained her many new and well-deserved fans. For her most recent album, last year’s Belle of the West, Samantha enjoyed the support of Luther Dickinson and many of his North Mississippi Allstars friends. Tracks from the album, such as “American Dream”, “Blood in the Water”, and “Cowtown”, demonstrated her songwriting talents and powerful vocals alongside her hard-rocking guitar.
Jackie Greene started out with a softer tone, playing banjo and accompanied by percussion on “Tupleo” and “The Captain’s Daughter” from Vol. 1 of his Modern Lives EPs. He’s a rocker at heart, though, and it didn’t take long for the band to turn up the volume. It’s easy to see why Greene has always enjoyed playing with Nathan Dale. The two traded licks, alternating between acoustic and electric guitars. Greene also played keyboards, joining Sanders for a gospel-infused “Hallelujah”. “Crazy Comes Easy” from Modern Lives’ recently released Vol. II showcased Jackie’s talents on slide guitar, by which time most of Town Hall was on its feet and dancing in the aisles.
In addition to a bigger band, the show featured impressive multi-media displays that enhanced the experience. Jackie Greene has clearly moved beyond being a sideman or a one-dimensional guitar slinger. He’s spreading his wings and demonstrating his talents as a musician, songwriter, and performer. He’ll always be welcome in New York. Let’s hope he’s back here soon.
You can check out a gallery from Friday’s show with Jackie Greene and Samantha Fish below, courtesy of the author, Lou Montesano.