Jackie Greene (photo: William Wayland)
Words by Carolyn McCoy
Songwriting troubadour Jackie Greene just turned 38 years old, so he decided to throw himself a birthday party by inviting a few hundred fans to a sold-out solo performance at 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley. And why not? A celebration of all things Jackie Greene deserves to be shared by as many people as possible.
There is something profound about a songwriter with just his harmonica, his guitar, and his piano. Even though there is simplicity within that,that simplicity can turn into a deeply-layered experience that surrounds us and comforts us. Greene’s two-hour set gleaned songs from his roller-coaster career as one of the darlings of the Americana movement, and included “Honey, I’ve Been Thinking About You,” “Don’t Let The Devil Take Your Mind,” the rocking fun of “Like A Ball & Chain,” and the bluesy romp of “Hollywood.” He closed out the evening with a lovely encore of “Sweet Somewhere Bound.”
Jackie Greene is a hoot and a holler. His humor is punctuated by a potty mouth, and his pleasure at pure entertainment is true and real. His command of our attention came with such ease that we can only imagine he’d be our friend if there were a chance to casually converse over coffee or a joint. His banter between his finely crafted songs spanned the gamut of being a dad to a long-ago digestive mishap before opening for BB King, not to mention hilarious stories about his songs that often had nothing to do with the song itself. He answered randomly-flung questions from audience members, who casually shouted at him as if we were just hanging out in his living room. He giggled and laughed, cracked jokes, and made us smile.
Jackie Greene lives to roam another year around the sun, and we all benefit from that in such an incredible way. His music is pure and real, fun and alive, just like him.