If I hear the word “maverick” any more, I may vomit. What used to be a perfectly normal word has become a word I can’t stand to hear.  Hell, I don’t even like the Dallas Mavericks anymore.   And that movie, “Maverick” with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster?….used to be a really good movie.  It sucks now.  I’ll never watch it again. Thanks a lot, Sarah Palin.

Seriously though, I don’t see how the McCain/Palin campaign can do anything at this point but minimize damages to their party.  Let’s be honest.  When you’re beat, you’re beat.  Go ahead and give it the good ol’ college try, though.

I find it interesting that both McCain and Obama speak in the general rhetoric of “change” and “reform”, yet only Obama has seemed to develop a more rational and much clearer vision of what that means realistically.  It seems that McCain is hard pressed to find answers to some of the important questions that Obama seems to answer with relative ease and conviction.

Obama is clearly more studied on economic issues.  McCain allegedly didn’t even read the bailout bill,  (the one that actually passed).  Yet, here’s a guy who was so concerned with the financial crisis that he felt the need to suspend his campaign to go lend a helping hand in Washington.  I don’t the public bought that one, Johnny. Or six pack, or whatever.  Obama has spoken with knowledge and integrity on the subject.  The Obama idea to create a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank that could help keep our roads and transit systems intact, while create loads of US jobs, is the exact kind of creative thinking our country needs.

Truth be told, maybe he was a “maverick” at one point.  But not anymore.  It seems like McCain has been increasingly moving farther to the right.  It’s true he worked with Democrats in the past to create a patients bill of rights.  He opposed unlimited offshore drilling when most Republicans were for it.  Recently however, he opposed a bill that aimed to stop the torture of war prisoners.  I think they call it “special interrogation technique” or “advanced asshole questioning”…or something.  I thought he was tortured in Vietnam?   Isn’t that a bit strange? I think maverick is the wrong word….more like wishy-washy or volatile.

The current attacks on Obama’s character are even more disgusting.  I like playing the six degrees of separation game too, but not when it comes to the most important election of the modern world.   The recent discovery of Sarah Palin’s “associations” with radical Alaskan groups only exacerbates the hypocrisy of the McCain campaign.   Two can play at that game!

The recent debate was interesting to watch.  Obama seemed to be much more at home and reasonable than McCain, who seemed a little agitated and over the top.  By the way, did anybody see how quickly Fox News posted their “polls” after the debate?  They said something like 82% thought McCain won the debate.  None of the other networks posted their findings until later. (which were much different) I find it amazing that Fox is still in business.

Tina Fey’s impersonation of Sarah Palin while hilarious, seems dangerous to me.  It’s all well and good to joke and have fun, but there is a real possibility (albeit a small one) that Sarah Palin will be the next Vice President (or God forbid, President) of the United States.  The point of the SNL skit was to mock Palin (and with good reason) but in some ways, she gained a small margin of credibility with the skit.  Or at least gained some pop credibility in the over-saturated minds of young america.

It’s a long shot – and I hope i’m wrong.

Another long shot, but if McCain wins and replaces just one moderate on the Supreme Court (he has cited John Roberts) then Roe Vs Wade has the potential to be reversed and states will be allowed to impose absolute bans on abortions.  Now, this is only made worse by the fact that he no longer supports rape and incest as factors in the case for an abortion.  Not to mention he believes Viagra should be covered by insurance….but not birth control.   Hmm.  Odd.

I saw the Sarah Palin book in the airport bookstore this morning.  It’s awfully slim.  She and McCain like to criticize Obama for being “wordy”.  Obama has written two books.  Why is that a bad thing?  If anything, we should want our leaders to posses a mastery of the english language and have the brainpower to put that talent to good use.

The real point of this lengthy post is this:  Beyond every topic I just mentioned, the election of Barack Obama would represent so many things that are fundamentally important to us.  Being of a mixed ethnic background, he represents America as it really is in the 21st century.   As a metaphor it would be a symbol of a civil rights victory; re-establishing the belief that we are the most righteous country in the world.  That we continue to care about equality and tolerance.  It would energize us on the world stage, and help encourage democracy abroad.   Moreover, Obama is a leader. There is no one better suited for the extremely difficult task of leading America in the 21st century.

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.

Grovestand Revisited

It seems that some people had misread, or at least misunderstood what I was talking about on my last post.  I figure I’d better clarify.  I’m not scolding Sacramento. Not in the least.  I’m simply stating my opinion and theory about the matter.  I realize that people work during the week and it’s difficult to get away.  It’s not my intention to punish or scold any of the hard working folks out there. More importantly, I had a moment of self realization just now.  Being a road musician, it’s hard to stay in touch with what’s going on in the world on a day to day basis.  We just checked into our hotel in Santa Barbara and flipped on the news.  Hurricane Ike.   My God.

Suddenly, I feel selfish for even giving half a shit about ticket sales.  The Weather Service declares “Certain Death” for some areas that do not evacuate!!!! Have you ever heard something so heavy?  I haven’t.

Man, just when you think YOU got troubles…turn on the news.  I guess they call it… perspective.  It happens to us as we grow older, I guess.

I feel so bad for those families.  I can’t imagine what that feels like.  If you pray, pray for them.  If you give money, give it there.  If you send vibes, give energy…send it in that direction.  I will be doing the same.  Lets hope for the best.

I remember after Katrina, I donated crates of water and canned food to some of the outposts where families were being sheltered.  The shattered lives of some of those people still hang in my consciousness.  The images and stories.  I’m afraid my mind will have to make room for more.

Can I Get A Witness?

After watching Barack Obama’s DNC speech for the third time, I’m still as electrified as I was when I saw it the first time. I can say without a doubt, it was the greatest piece of public speaking I have ever heard in my lifetime. Granted, I am young. I was not alive to hear Martin Luther King speak. I wasn’t alive to hear Kennedy (or any of the pundits comparisons.) Yes, I’ve seen the footage of Dr. King and yes I was inspired greatly… but there’s something truly special about being alive and being a witness.

To be sure, I am a musician not a politician. I don’t know very much about foreign policy. I don’t study every proposition or measure that ends up in a pamphlet on my doorstep.

I am, in a sense…very ordinary.

But after hearing Obama speak over the past couple years, I’ve realized something. I want to learn more about US foreign policy. I want to learn about governments, both domestic and global. I want to educate myself to be both a better American citizen and world citizen.

And that’s it right there: The man re-charges people. He is so inspired in his beliefs, so charismatic in his delivery and so deep on so many levels that it’s almost impossible to not listen to him.

He chooses such good angles that its very difficult to argue with him and not unlike a really, great song, he inspires emotion in people. But perhaps more importantly, he inspires motion.

Truly, it’s a great time to be alive.

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.