FIVE THOUGHTS (concerning touring, etc)

1. There’s no place like home.  Except a good Chinese restaurant. 2. Many people envy the life of a traveling musician.  Until they become one.

3. My favorite town to play in is the one that had the biggest pre-sale.

4. Sometimes I start laughing on stage for what seems like no reason.  Sometimes right in the middle of singing a serious song.  It’s because I’m having fun.

5. They say to overcome your fear of singing in front of a crowd, you should just picture the front row naked.  BAD idea.  A better idea is to picture the front row in winter parkas with big fur hoods.  That works much better.

Trampled Under Foot

I don’t mind signing autographs after shows. Really, I don’t. I don’t mind taking photos with intoxicated frat-boys. It doesn’t even really bother me to sit there with my arm around an even more intoxicated old woman while her husband fumbles his way around the digital camera. I am absolutely thrilled to smile and take photos with pretty young girls. I am only slightly less thrilled to take photos with their mothers. Even when their lipstick smears across my favorite shirt and they reach back and make a drunken grope for my ass, it doesn’t bother me. (most of the time, they miss anyways) Seriously, I’m happy to do it. Really. I’m thankful to the fans that pay money to come see us play and I do my best to give back the little extras that seem to make a difference in their lives.

There was a time when I was extraordinarily shy and did not like meet and greets, photographs or signing anything. I was embarrassed by the whole ordeal. I would do them, but never by my own account. Usually it was a contractual obligation and I was more or less forced to. I would sign tickets, CDs and tee shirts as quickly as I could and then go into hiding feeling embarrassed and ashamed. I’ve never felt like a “star”, and quite frankly, I still don’t. But I am proud to say, I am no longer freaked out by the whole thing.

Although I must report something that has been on my mind: It seems that in the past year or so, the system has gotten a little out of hand at times. I’ve been offering myself up after shows for chit-chat, autographs and photos at nearly every show that it was possible to do so. I have to admit, sometimes I feel like i’m being taken advantage of though. Sometimes I feel a little trapped, so to speak.

It was just the other night when we played a show to a packed house at a small club. No sooner did I leave the stage and step outside for a much needed smoke break, a multitude of people swarmed over and trapped me against the wall. Everybody talking at once, thrusting out tickets to be signed, touching my hair (I have no idea why) and asking why we didn’t play their favorite song. As I said, I’m happy to do this part of the job. But I got the strange feeling that I was being “used up”, as I didn’t even really have time to get a drink of water before the madness ensued. After an hour or so, the crowd dissolved and I was left standing with my back to the brick wall of this dirty building. I was glad to see so many people very happy and fulfilled, but I was just plain burnt.

I love the Grateful Dead’s music. It’s true. I didn’t always, though. After I began playing and singing with Phil Lesh, I started to appreciate it more. Over time, it grew on me and I began to love it. In many ways, the Dead are more relevant now than perhaps they ever were. Particularly in the business realm. Musically, they were certainly pioneers and deserve every ounce of musical credit given to them. But really, when it comes to music business – they were truly ahead of their time.

Having professed my love for their music, I must say that I’m a tad annoyed at the fact that sometimes all people want to hear is Sugaree. I love that song. Sure, yeah. You got me. But really, I can sing other stuff, too. I like the Beatles as much as the Dead. Probably more. I like the Velvet Underground, Tom Waits and Merle Haggard just as much too. And believe or not, I even like singing some of my own songs. In fact, that’s why I’m here to begin with. I refuse to be reduced to a Grateful Dead cover band, and if that means never singing Sugaree again…so be it. There will be a time in the not-too-distant future, when Dead songs will show up in our set as a rarity. Not a regularity.

Okay, okay. So I’m being over-dramatic. (i’m good at that. ask any of my ex-girlfriends!) But seriously, I just had to mention that because I’m bored and in a hotel room in Nowhere, Michigan and it was on my mind.

So as it stands, I’m still into doing the request via internet experiment. If you’ve not heard, this is how it works: If there’s a show coming up that you know you’ll be attending, and there’s a song that you really want to hear, you cant let me know. Make sure to send your name, and which show you will be at. (It’s amazing how often that part gets left out)

You can either send it via Twitter ( jackie_greene ), which is the preferred way and more likely to get read, or send it via old-fashioned email: The table is open to suggest anything you’d like to hear. There are a few exceptions: “Freebird”, “Stairway to Heaven” and “Mustang Sally” are instantly deleted and the cliche police will show up at your door to arrest you if you suggest these. Grateful Dead songs are all considered. However, if you send in nothing but a set list full of Dead songs, your imagination license will be revoked and you will be directed to

Speaking of the internet….very soon, you will be able to download the “Small Tempest” on itunes, amazon and several other places. For the vinyl nerds (like me) we will be pressing a cool 10” for sale through the web and at shows only.

Until next time – Jackie

The Love you Take is Equal to The Love You Make

So there was this moment on the PLF spring/summer tour when everything made sense to me. We were in Columbus, Ohio scheduled to play at this wonderful outdoor amphitheater (the name escapes me now) and Levon Helm was about 30 minutes into his set when a horrific thunderstorm struck.  It literally came out of nowhere.  It was immediate.  The downpour was intense and the wind blew the rain sideways and everything on the stage began to get drenched.  Within seconds, guitar amps were shorting out and microphone stands were being toppled.  Levon’s band had to leave the stage but  Levon kept playing.  (to be fair, Levon and Larry)  He finished the song and ran to the side stage to dry off.  His set was cut short.

The image of Levon Helm playing his heart out in the middle of a storm – with the biggest shit-eating grin you’ve ever seen – is something I will NEVER forget.  In retrospect it was almost a metaphor for the music business.   Playing through the struggle, paying dues and all that.  It was a powerful moment, and I am lucky to bear witness first hand.

What happened next was even more remarkable:

The venue had completely cleared out – thousands of people vacated the ampitheater.  It looked as if the show was over.  PLF would not be performing that night.

All the gear was shot.  The rain had come so fast and so hard that there was no time to cover anything up.  One of my amps was filled with water and Steve’s electronic keyboards were messed up.  Not to mention the house sound system and microphones and monitors.

It took several hours for the crew to dry the equipment enough that we could use it safely. I remember seeing a bunch of stage hands with portable hairdryers working diligently to dry the little nooks and crannies of the sensitive gear.

We didn’t know if we were going to go on that night.  It looked as if the crowd went home.  I thought for sure they went home.

Well, we ended up going on several hours later.  And to my surprise, every single person came back and the venue was again filled.  They had all been waiting around the corner or across the street.   I was so amazed.  It literally brought a tear to my eye. It was this moment when I realized how monumentally powerful music can be.

I mean, here’s a band (the grateful dead) who’s body of work is SO important, SO revered that fans are willing to wait for hours in the rain to go to the show!!! And there wasn’t any definitive call on weather or not there would be a show that night!  They waited just for the CHANCE of a show….

…it was as if the storm NEVER happened.

And therein the magic lies.  The grateful dead songbook is one of the most impressive and powerful catalogs modern history has known.  It’s a staggering body of work that reaches into the lives of so many people and captures the spirit of the human experience so well, and with such honesty, it’s difficult to deny.  Once you are in – it is impossible to escape.

Honestly, I’ve never seen such dedication before in my life.  Most bands are lucky if they have fans that will go to two shows a year. The deadheads are unprecedented in their passion and unmatched in their appreciation and kindness.

Halfway through the first tune, it all clicked:  ”The love you take is equal to the love you make”.   Of COURSE we had to go on.  How could I have doubted it?  These fans have been coming to shows for decades.  Probably not the first storm they waited through either!!

I know so many bands that would have said: “fuck it, lets call it.  Crowd’s going home anyways”.  And they would have been right.  Their fans probably would have gone home. But not these fans.  Not deadheads.

Now I realize that it probably never even occurred to Phil that we might not go on.  Even though the rest of the band and crew were wondering if we would.  As long as it was safe – we go on.  Period.

I learned one of the most important lessons of my life that night, and it has brought a beautiful new meaning to my life.

Happy New Year

First of all,  happy new year! (i know, i’m a month late).  I would like to thank everyone who made it out to San Francisco for the ‘family gramble’ extravaganza that took place 12/30 and 12/31.   It was seriously a lot of fun to get to do both bands in one show.

For those that couldn’t make it, we will be posting downloads of the show soon! (At least the JG set).

I had my first experience on Jam Cruise.  What can I say….  Insanity. Chaos.  Beer.  Loud music.  That’s all that really comes to mind…

I’m going to be starting a new record pretty soon, which is why you don’t see a lot of shows.

We have a couple nights at the Great American Music Hall coming up….with some very special guests.

Tour Update

So the other night, John Molo and I got a chance to sit in with the Allman Brothers on the tune “Southbound”. To sit in with those guys is intimidating, to say the least.  There I was, trading guitar licks with Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes and hanging on for dear life.  It was frightening…and about the most fun I’ve had with my pants on.  I have to say that watching Derek play slide (particularly from that close), is nothing short of a religious experience.  It’s unreal.  The guy is fucking amazing. Warren is no slouch.  He’s got the serious triple threat going:  guitar playing, writing songs and singing. Not to mention he’s about the nicest guy on the planet.  A true gentleman.

We just got done playing a show with the Black Crowes.  Chris Robinson came up to sing and play “Sugaree” with us.  He’s got some pipes, boy….  It was a great jam and he positively nailed the tune.  He too, was very kind and very much a gentleman.

So that’s the update so far.  A couple more Allman Brothers shows and then my band heads out for a few California dates.  After that, PLF is off to New York City for a 14 – show run at the Nokia Theater!!!

Allman Brothers / PLF Fall Tour

Hi everyone, We just finished our second night with the Allman Brothers on this tour. Everything is going great.  I got to watch their whole set and I was blown away. What a powerful band.  It occurs to me (I don’t know why it didn’t before) that this tour is a really great pairing of bands.  There’s an insane amount of energy floating around the backstage areas.  Lots of great people and wonderful musicians.

I’m very grateful to Phil.  He has introduced me to a whole new way of doing music that I never would have thought of on my own.  There’s so many Grateful Dead songs I love to sing, it’s hard to choose which ones I like the most.

Anyways, I hope some of you can make it out to some of these shows.  They’re truly a lot of fun.

Phoenix, AZ

Well, we’re batting a thousand here in Phoenix.  Tonight we had a show scheduled at dingy little blues bar called the Rhythm Room.  I was really looking forward to playing and getting sweaty, but the weather whipped our asses.  Again.  A storm so bad came through, it knocked out the power about 30 minutes into our set! I tried to go back on with just an acoustic guitar, but we had to cancel that too because the club started flooding with water. Last year (or maybe two years ago…can’t remember) we were playing at the McDowell Mountain music festival here.   We were about halfway into our set when we got hit with what they call a Microburst.  Like a mini hurricane.  Needless to say, that show got shut down too.

Listen, I’m sorry Phoenix.  Truly.  I really want to play for you guys and this is just rotten luck.  We promise to come back soon.  Hopefully the weather will be better.

We just got evacuated from our hotel a few minutes ago due to the weather.  The declared an “emergency”. I wonder what that emergency actually was.  I figured it was because the cable went out.  They finally let us back to our rooms. It’s been an interesting 24 hours….


Outside Lands Festival

Hi folks.  We had a great time at the Outside Lands Festival.  There’s something special about really well-run music festivals.  Perhaps it’s the synergy of all the different bands and styles coming together.  Perhaps it’s just the dope.  Perhaps a bit of each. In any case, I was thoroughly impressed by this particular festival.  There was a lot of talk (among both artists and fans) about weather or not San Francisco could pull off a festival of this size.  Now granted, I only spent one day there, but from my perspective i’d have to say:  It was a complete success.  I’m very proud to have been a part of the whole thing and I hope the festival continues each year.

I suppose my only complaint would be that all my friends bands we’re playing at almost exactly the same time as mine! So we couldn’t do any sit-ins….bummer.  Next time, we’ll have to see if we can’t get the powers that be to spread us out over a longer period so we can do guest spots in each others bands.

Guesting in different bands is half the fun (for me anyways) of festivals.  I always get really, really excited when I get asked to sit in.  I sat in with Michael Franti at Mountain Jam this year and had a blast.  I had no idea what song we were going to do, but there’s something awesome about learning a tune on the spot in front of 10,000 people.  Some might call it frightening.  I call it awesome.

Phil & Friends has a lot of guests.  We’ve had Warren Haynes, Ryan Adams, Steve Berlin, Peter Wolf, Levon Helm, Amy Helm,  John Scofield, Trey Anastasio, etc.  I’ve learned something from each one of them.   I’ll never forget Peter Wolf.  He comes out…Boston, I think…he’s got a half a bottle of Makers Mark in one hand and gets out front and center and starts getting people to make some noise.  I think people were a little shocked at his bravado, so they were kind of quiet at first…he says something like: “Cmon, what is this a Barry Manilow concert?”  …and then proceeds to kick everyones ass.  I loved it.

But I digress.  I just wanted to thank everyone for coming out to the festival.  Truly, a festival can’t exist without festival goers.  So, thank you.


PLF Tour, Etc

Hi folks, The PLF Spring/Summer tour has ended.  It was a blast.  So many good shows.  I got to sing “The Weight” with Levon Helm.  That was one highlight for me.  Phil got this crazy new bass and Teresa is singing with the band now.  It’s all feeling really good.  Phil just announced some new dates, so stay tuned.  The Jackie Greene band will be touring again this summer so stay tuned for that as well.

Jackie Greene on Conan Tonight!

Hi all, just got back to the hotel from the taping at NBC.  Hope you can tune in and watch the show.  I believe it airs at 12:35am, 11:35 central. We recently performed at Mountain Jam and had a wonderful time. For those of you who have never been up to that festival, I suggest you go.  Every act was great.  I finally got to see Ray Lamontagne perform, and he and his band were amazing.  I got to sit in on a tune with the legendary Michael Franti and Spearhead.  Those guys can really, really put on a show!

That same night, the band and I were lucky enough to be invited to go watch the Levon Helm Band out at his barn in Woodstock.  It was literally one of the most amazing nights of music I’ve ever seen.  The band was incredible.  Levon sounded as good as ever and I nearly broke down when he began to sing “The Weight”.   I hope to one day be half as powerful as that guy.  That guy is pure soul.  Man!

We have a really cool show coming up this Thursday in Reno, NV.  We’re doing a double bill with our dear friends, the Mother Hips.   Come on out!

Jackie Greene on Conan

Hello friends, Just to let you know, we will be on Late Night w/ Conan Obrien on Tuesday, June 3rd.  Tune in and wish us luck!  We will be playing a few dates around the area as well.  I believe that some of the performances at Mountain Jam (we play May 31) will be streamed live on the internet at iclips.  Hopefully, you can tune into that as well.  We’ll also be making a stop in Alexandria, VA at the Birchmere on June 2nd.

After that, Phil Lesh & Friends will be continuing our Summer tour.  Plenty of good stops.  2 Performances at Bonnaroo, and several other dates.

I encourage you all to help us by requesting songs from the new record at your local radio stations.  It really helps out.  The more, the merrier.  Check the myspace site from time to time.  Occasionally, I have the time to upload some rare stuff and make it available for download….but it only lasts for a limited amount of time.  So, check back often.

I’ve been working on a bunch of new songs and some other things that will hopefully get finished by the end of the year.  A scrapbook of prose and short fiction may be in the future as well.  There may be a new song or two popping out on the PLF tour.  You never know…

We should have some really cool summer tour shirts soon.  I’m usually not too interested in merch, but I see so many bands with great t-shirts and crappy songs.  Sometimes, I get a little jealous!

Hope to see ya out on the road.