As the tenor and tones of crowds go, the fans outside the El Rey Theater couldn’t have been more laid back if they had tried.
It’s about 8:00 p.m. and the reefers are being consumed freely in open defiance of the police officers patrolling this section of Wilshire Blvd. Not that the police in this area care by any given extent. They have more pressing issues to deal with than a bunch of concert goers; each with their own legal prescription if they were to be questioned.
The excitement and contact high from these aging deadheads and Los Angeles scenesters grows and becomes infectious like an ebola plague as the night goes on. Meanwhile, the increasingly crazy antics of some members of the crowd grow in steady proportion to the excitement; but that part of the story can be read here.
By 8:30 the bar is packed, and after I get my standard rum and coke I begin to mingle with other members of the crowd closer to the stage.
Of the LA scenesters, a small minority have not heard of Jackie Greene and are only here because tickets are cheap. As it gets closer to showtime, I’m quickly getting bored listening to inane conversations about obscure indie artists and vegan restaurants and I edge over closer to the part of the pit where the deadheads have begun to congregate and are steadily becoming more exuberant.
Now the thing you have to know about California deadheads is that not all of their conversations — but this is certainly true for the ones at this concert — range between four topics: The Grateful Dead, Grateful Dead cover bands, artists who occasionally do a cover of the Grateful Dead and marijuana.
Deadheads are pleasant enough music fans to talk to until you happen to mention that you have never listened to The Grateful Dead for any extended amount of time — this is a mistake that will not be repeated again. The reaction to a statement like this is similar to if you were hiking in the Amazon and stumbled into a village of hungry cannibals. The villagers would be nice and accommodating at first, but soon you begin to notice that they are preparing to turn your thigh into a nice honey glazed spiral cut for dinner that night.
Thankfully, my experience being a center cut sirloin was short lived. Five minutes after stumbling into the tribe of Amazonian cannibals, Jackie Greene took to the stage and began speaking the absurd and obscure language these natives spoke; and that language was music.
Greene is pretty much the epitome of the new old school; at least thats the case when he performs songs like “Don’t Let The Devil Take Your Mind” and “Like A Ball And Chain.” His command of the stage and preforming area is absolute from the first guitar chord to the last verse.
Durring the concert however, the most memorable moments came not from his own songs, but from a mash-up of Smokey Robinson and Pink Floyd. It really is quite something to hear “I Heard It Through The Grape Vine” and “The Wall” meshed together in such a way that it feels like a unreservedly new and original piece of work. Even though during “The Wall” he let the crowd do most of the singing.
And while he does’t do more “road-house” styled songs like Joe Bonamassa, he still has a very distinctive style and flavor that is all his own. Greene definitely delves more into folksier lyrics with a blues kicker thrown in with his guitar work.
Most of the concert sounded like one large jam session with the occasional set of lyrics and a ten minute break thrown in between sets. This really isn’t a problem for someone who has never heard his music before, because by the end of the night they will be grooving along with the rest of the crowd.
After the final bow, Jackie stayed on stage and preformed one last very intimate solo number. It was at this time that a listener really gets a final sampling of his writing prowess and vocal range.
But in all honesty, a measly five paragraphs about Greene is a pale shade compared to actually seeing him perform live or just listening to one of his albums. That being said, any college student who is looking to expand their library with lesser known musicians will not be disappointed with an album of Jackie Greene in their collection.
Click here to watch Jackie Greene perform his song “Don’t Let the Devil.”