We are giving away a pair of tickets to Jackie Greene @ Wonder Ballroom on September 10. To win, comment on this post why you’d like to attend. Winner will be drawn and emailed Tuesday, September 8.
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September 10, 2015
Doors 8 p.m., Show 9 p.m. | $20 | 21+
128 NE Russell St, Portland, OR 97212
“We live in such a fast-paced, hectic environment, I wanted to make a record that would invite people to step back and take their time to listen,” Jackie Greene says of Back to Birth, his first album in five years. “I wanted to make a record that would reward people who are willing to sit down and give it a couple of serious listens.”
Back to Birth – Greene’s seventh album and his Yep Roc Records debut – is more than worthy of some serious attention. The 11-song set showcases the multitalented artist’s uncanny knack for synthesizing his deep affinity for American roots styles into timeless, personally-charged music. Armed with a persuasive voice, a vivid songwriting skill and an instinctive mastery of several instruments, Greene has carved out a unique musical niche, and the album marks another creative landmark in his already compelling body of work.
Produced by Los Lobos member and frequent Greene collaborator Steve Berlin, Back to Birth underlines Greene’s remarkable evolution as a performer and writer. With such new compositions as “Silver Lining,” “Trust Somebody,” “Now I Can See For Miles,” and the stirring title track, the artist’s distinctive melodic sensibility is matched with thoughtful, introspective lyrics that confront some profound philosophical issues with plainspoken eloquence.
“Musically, this album is kind of a return to the simplicity of the records that I started with, although I feel like I have a much better idea of what I’m doing now,” Greene observes. “I think the lyrics are the part that have really evolved. A lot of these songs explore the notion of a cyclical existence, and the sense that life goes in a circle. I want the songs to come from a place that’s meaningful to me, but I also want to keep them as simple and direct as I can. I look at old blues songs, or Hank Williams songs, and they’re so simple and direct but they can convey some pretty deep ideas.”
Although Back to Birth is Greene’s first new solo release in five years, he’s hardly been idle. In fact, he’s spent much of the past few years engaging in a series of collaborative musical adventures that have teamed him with several notable veterans.
In 2013, Greene joined the reunited Black Crowes as lead guitarist on their worldwide tour, and the following year released the self-titled debut album of supergroup Trigger Hippy, which Greene is a member of along with Joan Osborne and Crowes drummer Steve Gorman. Greene continues to be a frequent member of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s touring ensemble Phil Lesh & Friends, for which he has contributed lead guitar and vocals since 2007. Greene also toured as part of WRG, an acoustic trio with the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson, and he performed with Levon Helm as part of Helm’s fabled Midnight Ramble shows.
The same qualities that attracted such legendary figures to work with Greene are prominent throughout Back to Birth, which Greene and producer Berlin cut at Portland’s Supernatural Sound with a sympathetic crew of mostly jazz-steeped players, with Greene stretching out on a number of instruments, including guitar, piano, organ and drums.
Lauren Shera’s DigSin debut Gold and Rust marks the distinguished national bow of a literally prodigious singer-songwriter who, having spent half of her young life as a professional musician, is now destined to capture the national spotlight.
The Nashville-based singer-songwriter’s album – her third, following two independently released titles – is Shera’s musical farewell to her home state of California.
“Somebody once described my music as ‘California folk,’ and I feel that’s very accurate,” Shera says. “I’ve always been so inspired by the coast and the mountains and all of the beautiful places in California that I love so much. It was a conducive environment for what I write. A lot of the songs are inspired by various parts of California – living there, or scenery there, or people that I’ve met there. Making the record and finishing it, knowing that I was about to be leaving, inspired some of the songs as well.”
The 10 original compositions on Gold and Rust – ranging from spare, meditative ballads to panoramic, elegantly produced folk-rockers — reflect the pronounced influence of another singer-songwriter whose music has become virtually synonymous with California folk, as well as a diversity of other distinctive musical voices in American folk and folk-rock.