Current Issue Details

Buy Current Issue


Published: 2008/03/22
by Randy Ray

Swapping Ghost Stories with Jackie Greene

Jackie Greene continues his impressive trajectory as a front man and guitarist for Phil Lesh & Friends and a solo artist with an increasingly vital body of work with his April studio release, Giving Up The Ghost. The twelve-song collection is his strongest work to date and should serve as ample notice that the guitarist, organist, harp player and singer-songwriter has cemented his own identity onto the modern music scene. The release with his solid core group also features numerous excellent collaborations, including Los Lobos musician and two-time Greene producer Steve Berlin, his Lobos band mate David Hidalgo, Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas, Phil Lesh & Friends multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, guitarist and Skinny Singer (along with Greene) Tim Bluhm, Los Lobos drummer Cougar Estrada and his occasional boss, Phil Lesh.

The San Francisco musician’s collaboration with the Dead bassist has garnered Greene the most attention and press of his career, but what may be of more interest is how well his own songs fit into the current Lesh touring outfit. Greene’s Americana, all-genres-at-all-times, old school rock, blues and country made anew may have no easy classification. However, therein lies perhaps the 27 year old’s greatest asset. While others are attempting to fit into the current indie bag or shoehorning pop into jamband songs, Greene just writes damn good timeless hooks. Giving Up The Ghost is the proof of that and, as the reader will see in this feature, Greene isn’t averse to attempting to describe the mystery of the curious title of this latest release. He is a probing artist, working with a legendary bassist on a very public stage, but he is also forging ahead as a solo artist with a really good band ready to make its own mark on the live scene. Greene is an astute conversationalist, often times humble, but willing to be completely frank about his art and what he expects out of himself and those surrounding him in a tight inner circle that, at this point in time, is quite a comfort for his fertile mind.

RR: I just saw the Mother Hips Acoustic open up for Rodrigo y Gabriela and it made me think of your work with Tim Bluhm as a member of the Skinny Singers. You just played a tour with the Skinny Singers in Northern California in February, which included a date at the Sutter Creek Theatre, in an old 19th century Gold Rush town where I spent a couple years back in high school.

JG: We did, yeah. The Skinny Singers is something that Tim and I do whenever the Hips aren’t playing or whenever I’m not playing. Tim has a lot of side projects and I have a couple but the Skinny Singers is our most serious side project. We love doing it. We’re best friends and it is pretty rare these days that best friends can go play music together and have a good time. We’re stoked to do it.

RR: Last year’s album, which you did with Tim Bluhm as the Skinny Singers, Strike Again! doesn’t sound like a one-off project. It sounds like the two of you had been playing together for years and it also sounded like material that you needed to get down on tape before you recorded your own latest work, Giving Up the Ghost. Those songs with Tim sound like a natural bridge to your current album. Is that true?

JG: Yeah. The songs are songs that Tim brought to the table and I brought to the table and some that we wrote together. Yeah, it is something that needed to happen before the songs that came out on Giving Up the Ghost. It’s kind of like where you have too many songs and you need to do something with some of them so you turn some of them into Skinny Singers songs. Tim does the same thing. He has a bunch of songs and only some of them become Hips songs. It’s not even really a matter of taking leftovers. It’s not really like that. What songs fit the vibe of whatever you are trying to do better? Tim and I are great friends and we live next door to each other.

RR: You both own Mission Bells recording studio, right?

JG: We do, yeah. I’m sitting in it, right now. Tim is producing Dave Brogan’s record. He’s the drummer from ALO. He called me down to play some organ so here I am. We have this studio together in San Francisco where we do a lot of recordings. That is another thing we both like to do, another thing in common.

RR: You recorded Strike Again! at Mission Bells and, in particular, I really enjoyed the harmonies you achieved with Tim on the track “Where The Rain Don’t Go.”

JG: Yeah. That is something that we both enjoy and we figured that we sing well together, (laughs) so we should just do it. That’s kind of like the Skinny Singers vibe.

RR: What did you think of the Sutter Creek Theatre?

JG: I do remember it. The Skinny Singers played there twice, actually. It is a great little theatrevery little, maybe 200 people, if that. If I’m not mistaken, I think they do small stage shows thereplays and things like that and it’s not really meant for big, loud rock bands so the duo vibe really works well there for Tim and I. The town isI hate to use this word but it is_quaint_. (laughs) It’s friendly. I’m from Placerville [another town along the Gold Rush trail in Northern California] so I’m also from a small town so it doesn’t really seem that bizarre to me. It just seems normal like one of many American small towns. It’s very inviting. I can see why it gets many touristsvery pretty, too.

RR: My parents decided to retire up thererelocating from Fremont, Californiabefore eventually settling in Sacramento, which I know is a city where you lived for many years. Like you, I lived in Sacramento for a while and eventually headed to San Francisco because I wanted to shift to a higher gear. I was curious why you left Sacramento and relocated to the City. What drew you to that location?

JG: For me, a lot of it was the studio. Studio space doesn’t come up a whole lot and this studio that Tim and I have was already a studio before we took it over. The walls were built in, the glass was already put in it and a lot of work was already done. Before that, we both had home recording studios. We had been talking about putting all of our gear together and making one studio. This came up and I was thinking about moving to San Francisco, anyway and it pushed it over the edge so I had to do it.

I just sort of got over living in Sacramento, I thinknot that I needed any more excitement. I’m not really looking for a more exciting city, necessarily. I liked the fact that I could have it if I wanted to, you know? I like the fact there is the ocean. I do like the ocean and I like the restaurants around here. I just like the vibe of San Francisco. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with more things to do or not. You can certainly find things to do in Sacramento but, I don’t know, I think a change of scenery and a change of pace was in order.

RR: I’m a writer either blessed or cursed with a wandering spirit and, for whatever reason, at that point, I wanted a faster, more immediate life style. San Francisco seems like a pace that one can handle as opposed to the all-consuming New York.

JG: Right. New York’s a great city, too but it is sort of on steroids. San Francisco’s a very livable city, I think. It has a whole heritage of great music and great art and it is a neat thing to be a part of.

RR: Which draws me to Giving Up The Ghost featuring a strong persona fronting a great group of songs. How did San Francisco help you define your identity and where do you feel this evolution has placed you at this point in time?

JG: It’s hard for me to say because I’m the guy doing it. When someone is evolving, I think it is hard for that person to tell but the outside world can tell a lot more. For other people, their reference of me is the last record American Myth and this record and there are two years in between. For me, I live with myself every day. These other people say, “Oh, WOWthere is so much of a change.” To me, there isn’t much of a change. It feels natural and normal but I will say that everybody is a product of their environment, somehow in some way, shape or form. I definitely feel likethere’s definitely“Ghosts of Promised Lands” is a San Francisco song. That’s me sitting in the Mission District, in the studio here, looking out the window and catching the vibe. That plays a big role in songs, for sure. Also, who you meet, who you’re playing with and what you’re listening toyeah, it’s all part of it. Yeah, moving to San Francisco definitely does something for songwriting. (laughs as Tim Bluhm interjects) “It’s the San Francisco sound!” Tim says.

RR: I was impressed with your ability to deliver rapid-fire vocals without missing a beat on some of the verses on “Like A Ball & Chain.” Your confidence seems to really show in those lyrical passages. Did you notice that as part of the whole evolutionary process?

JG: Yeah, I didn’t notice it but I know what you’re saying in that song where there is that really fast vocal part. I’ve always dabbled in that, here and there, where the vocal does a double time.

RR: Right. You’ve done that before but there is a different level of confidence, now.

JG: I haven’t been actively refining it but I try to put that element into songs because it interests me and I’m very interested in rhythm. I like songs where the vocalist has a good kick to their vocals. I don’t actually think about it but I’m sure that, you know, I’m probably doing it on purpose even though I really don’t need to but it’s sort of part of me. It’s a stylistic thing, really.

RR: The other thing I noticed is thatwhether it is the influence of Steve Berlin who also produced American Myth or notit seems like four or five vocalists are singing on the album although; it is only you, in the end. I think that is based upon the fact that although the songs are written by one artist, you’ve been able to dabble successfully in different colors. Did you step back to notice that you were able to hit some different marks on Giving Up The Ghost?

JG: (laughs) Here’s the thing about that. Every label or every music business person I’ve ever talked to has always said, “Yeah, Jackie, we like your stuff but how do we sell it?” Because there are so many different kinds of songs. I’ve always said, “I don’t know (laughs) and I don’t care.” I think that’s what gets me off. I like to use different voices, different perspectives for songs because it’s interesting. It can still be me singing it, but it is giving different voices to different kinds of people. I guess it is a little like acting. To me, that’s interesting and it is something that I like to do. I definitely don’t sit down and say, “Well, this has to be this way and this has to be that way.” In the studio, I’m pretty free. If something is not obviously working and it was my original intention then, I give up on it really quickly. Sometimes, there are things that are very obviously not workinga part or a different sound that everyone agrees: “That’s bullshit; don’t do that,” so we move on and keep the rhythm of the session moving in a forward direction. I think that is an important part of recording. There are so many bands that sit there and record records that never put them out because they sit there and argue or they get stuck on something. I say that if you get stuck, fuck itjust move on, just keep going. Otherwise, you turn into Axl Rose and you have a record in the can for ten years. (laughs) That’s really not even a record. There is no way something like that can live up to the expectations of it.

RR: The different styles on Giving Up The Ghost are not really a hindrance and classic singers in the past have always managed to juggle various genres within their music. I have my theories but why do you think this trait is currently frowned upon? Why is it a problem to have a singer that can transcend classification?

JG: We have a different system today, you know? The whole system is completely different today. It’s not about that, anymore. Movies are different. Back in the day, you could make a movie about nothing more thanwhat’s that movie where the guy drops the mink coat off the building and it lands on this woman and it’s all about this woman who gets this mink coat? That movie wouldn’t exist today. They would say, “Where’s the car crash? Where’s the four buildings blowing up?”

Music’s the same way. It bothers the shit out of me. It bothers the shit out of a lot of serious music listeners. I just sort of ignore whatever that commercialism aspect is and just do what I like to do. At the same time, I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to have commercial success. Of course I do. Who doesn’t? Who wants to make a record that doesn’t sell? But I want to do it in my own way. If there is some massive miracle and change in the way that people listen to music and feel about it and, for some reason, what I do becomes popular then, great. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to keep making records whether you like it or not.

RR: Another coincidence. You’re delivering Giving Up The Ghost in 2008 and I’m finishing a novel called The Ghost of Circus Past this year. When I received your album, I laughed because the title of your record is my theme for the whole year. I just want to give up the ghost and move onto the next plateau. So this sort of thing is personal to me and I wondered what you thought of the title of your new record.

JG: I never really name a record until I am done with it. Giving Up The Ghost felt like it fit those songs. The idea of giving up the ghost’ basically means death, right? But, to me, there is the closely related idea of transformation within that like a snake sheds his skin. That is really more what it’s about for meanother phase of transformation. I thought that the songs displayed that, even though I’m not trying to. That overall theme ofI hesitate to say something dying because it’s not death in terms of ceasing to live, but more like giving up ideas or giving away to new ideas, a progression, a transformation more than anything else. When it came down to “What’s the title of this record? What’s the title of this record?” I was looking at Tropic of Capricorn [by Henry Miller]. I remember the first line in that book is “Once you have given up the ghost, everything follows with dead certainty [even in the midst of chaos]...” I said, “Fuckthat’s it!” I’m a Henry Miller fan, anyway so I said, “WOWthanks Henry.” (laughter)

RR: I’m glad I asked you about the title because some artists are very blasbout that sort of thing and never give it a thought.

JG: No. No. It’s fine. Naming records is not a light thing for me. I don’t want to just name something anything. I’ve made records where the title of the record is a song and that’s pretty easy but for the last couple of records, I haven’t done that.

RR: Gone Wanderin’ being an example of the former.

JG: Yeah, that was a song. Sweet Somewhere Bound was a song but American Myth was the same process of trying to come up with a title. Another thing to think of is if this album was a movie and the songs were chapters in the movie, what would the movie be called? That’s another way to think about it and it still works for me. I could call this movie Giving Up The Ghost and I could be happy with it. That’s sort of the litmus test, I think, for album titles.

RR: In line with that individual creative process, when you are playing with Phil Lesh & Friendsand you are embedded within the Grateful Dead’s music with lyrics written by Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlowhow do you maintain your own identity? How do you develop your own artistic entity while you are in Phil’s band? Do you go on stage and say, “You know, I’m Jackie Greene but, at the same time, I’m involved in this other parallel process with Phil and the band.”

JG: Well, you just do it. I think that’s why Phil wanted me to do it because I will put my identity on it. I don’t think anybody would make the mistake that I’m trying to be Jerry Garcia because I’m not. There is no other Jerry Garcia and there never will be another Jerry Garcia. For me, I don’t think about it all. It doesn’t occur to me. I just go out and do those songs the way that I know how to do them and the way I feel like they ought to be done. A lot of those songs are really, really important to a lot of people and I know that. I approach it with a great deal of respect. I do my own thing with it. I don’t change them, really.

I know Phil really likes to change the songs and I can understand that because he has played them for 50 years. (laughter) But for me, someone like me, who isn’t a Deadhead and didn’t really know a lot of these songs, for me, it’s almost like fresh blood up there singing these songs. I’m excited and I think the audience senses some sort of excitement in me about these songs. I’m singing them like they are new even though they are 40 years old to them, too but to me, a lot of them are new. I think that’s what translates and that’s where the identity comes in. It’s just very simple. You’re witnessing a guy who is excited for the first time about these songs.

RR: And visa versa. What is like to have musicians like Larry Campbell in Phil’s band take on your own material like your song you co-wrote with Tim Bluhm, “Don’t Let The Devil Take Your Mind,” which appears on the new record. [Author’s Note: check out the Halloween 2007 recording of the Phil Lesh & Friends’ appearance at Nokia Theatre in New York for a fine rendition.]

JG: It’s great. At the end of the day, those guys are great musicians. Larry Campbell is fucking amazing. It’s great. It’s actually quite liberating for me. My band does it one way
and Phil & Friends will do it another way and I get to be a part of both of it. That’s great. It opens my mind to all the possibilities within one song. That’s really the whole vibe of Phil in a nutshell. Phil is so musical that he can take any song and completely twist it around and completely do it in a different way and be comfortable with it. It takes me a while to be a little more comfortable with it but Phil is just so good at that. The fact that he’s so good at it and he’s so calm with it makes me calm with it. If everybody was freaking out about it, I’d freak out right there with them. Phil is very cool and calm with it so I follow along. (laughs) It’s great being able to play those songs in both bands.

RR: The Giving Up The Ghost liner notes are vague so I wanted some clarification. Which tracks feature Larry Campbell playing violins, mandolin and vocals?

JG: He does background vocals on “Animal” and “Like A Ball & Chain.” He plays mandolin and violins on “Shaken,” mandolin on “When You Return,” and a few others. When we were on tour, we had a day off so I stole him for a day (laughs) and took him into a New York studio [Brooklyn Recorders] and made him do all of this stuff.

RR: And producer Steve Berlin’s band mate in Los Lobos, David Hidalgo makes a collaborative appearance on the record, as well.

JG: He played accordion and guitar.

RR: Yes, he sweetens “Another Love Gone Bad” rather well. That’s a great song.

JG: David’s one of my heroes. People say to me: “It’s cool that you play guitar, harmonica and piano.” And I say: “Yeah, well, here’s a guy, David, who plays guitar, harmonica, piano, writes great songs, plays violin, a bunch of Latino instruments, and he can play accordionnow, that’s a guy, right there.” (laughs) He’s amazing. He’s always been one of my favorites.

RR: I’ll pull a Phil Lesh segue and move from David Hidalgo onto Steve Berlin since it seems appropriate to discuss his production of your last two albums at this point. You first met Steve when you opened up for Los Lobos at the Fillmore in San Francisco in 2005, right?

JG: Uh huh. That’s where it started. That’s where we first met. I think what happenedSteve tells the story betterbut I think what happened was (I think I was solo. I don’t remember.) that we got done playing and we ended up getting two encores as an opening act and Steve said that he had never really seen that before. Every one of the band’s members’ wives in Los Lobos made their husbands go buy my record immediately. (laughs) He was impressed and was just started talking, exchanging numbers and then, they came to Sacramento and played and I opened up there. We went back to my house afterwards, and I showed him all the records that I like and we sort of have the same taste in music. He saw all of my recording gear and that I was interested in recording and had
the same theories about it and he enlightened me to a lot of things and we became friends. We were friends first. It came time to do a record and I couldn’t think of anybody else that I would rather have do it and that was the American Myth record.

Coming into Giving Up The Ghost, we co-produced it together because I felt that I had my own studio now and I was learning a lot over the past couple of years about recording, in general. He was stoked to do it. It made sense because there wasn’t a getting-to-know-you period. I could pick him up from the airport and we could start working. We can call each other’s bullshit right there because we’re friends. If there is anybody that knows how I talk about things when I want a certain sound, it is Steve. Steve and Tim Bluhm can read my mind better than anybody else.

RR: Steve Berlin obviously is a part of that collaborative artistic success. What is he bringing to the table and what is his role as a producer?

JG: With me, Steve is pretty hands-off in terms of the songs but what he is really, really good atand this has always been our thingis that I hand him thirty songs and he helps me weed them down to what the record is really about because I don’t really know. It is hard to do if you’re the guy writing the songs. You become connected to the songs. There were a couple songs that I was connected to that didn’t make this record and he was rightthey didn’t work. Part of his job as the producer is to find the right songs for the record and manage that time. There’s a finite amount of time to make a record. We’re not going to take 10 years. We can’t do that so that’s important. He’s really good at that. He’s also really good at taking me out of my comfort zone and making me try a different sound either by tuning my guitar differently or singing differently. He knows how I sing, he’s seen me live and he’s played with us live. He sits in with us all the time so he knows how to get me to sing like I’m trying to do it live or to sing in a different mood. That’s what he’s really good at and thank God for that. If it was just me, I might just inch my way through the vocal part because I’m really not interested in singing. (laughs)

RR: Really? That’s surprising.

JG: Believe it or not. Well, I’m not interested in my own voice is what I mean. I like singing (laughs), but when no one is listening. I like singing not in front of a microphone.

RR: Yeah, but even when you’re singing the blues, it sounds like you’re enjoying what you’re saying in the lyrics regardless of the content.

JG: I do but Steve is helping me get there. In general, if I’m sitting at home, I won’t sing my songs, I’ll sing Merle Haggard songs. (laughs) Steve is valuable in a lot of ways but those are the ways that stand out. Just the fact that he’s really good atas far as sonically, with the instrumentation, he’ll say, “Jackie, don’t”because I always want to put organ on everythingand he’ll say, “You knowyou should try the Farisfa or something else that you’re not used to.” And lo and behold, a lot of times, we get something really great like something that never would have occurred to me before. He’s very creative that way and it’s really a treasure to have.

RR: That’s interesting. Getting back to that idea you mentioned about shedding one’s skin, is it almost like Steve is making you feel comfortable in your new skin?

JG: Yeah. Yeah, in a way, I think he senses that there is this transformation going on in me and he is aiding it along. He’s very nurturing. He’s been around long enough to see that happen in a lot of artists and I think he knows what to do and what not to do. I don’t knowwhat am I doing? I’m just being myself and going along with it. No man is an island and you always need a friend.

RR: You also have some help from your core group which includes Nathan Dale on guitar, “Uncle” Bruce Spencer on drums, Jeremy Plog on bass and, on the upcoming tour on selected dates, Mic Gillette and George Brooks on horns. How do you record with your band in the studio?

JG: We record the core stuff livebass, drums and guitar. I feel that is the best way to approach a song, in generalnot always, but in general by getting the meat of the song, the vibe of the song and get that right. Once you’ve got that right, then you can start talking harps and other things. It is all about getting that vibe right, the first initial thing, the meat of the song, if you will, and I think the best way to do it is to play live with the bandto have that sort of connection with each other, in the same room, looking at each other in the eyes and there is no way to be tighter than that. Even if it goes off the click, the band is still tighter that way. It’s a bizarre phenomenon but, to me, it always works better like that, in general. There are some songs that I have done, like on this record, “I Don’t Live In A Dream,” where I did everything myself. I put down a guitar part and then, a drum part and then, I put down this and that and it ended up to be that we liked the vibe of however that came to be so much that we just used it. Then, we had Cougar [Estrada, Los Lobos drummer and percussionist] play the B section so there are actually two sets of drums, two different drum kits and that’s what became of the song. That is an example of a Lego set, a building block approach to a song.

RR: There is a cool neo-realist film playing in my mind when I listen to “I Don’t Live In A Dream.” What does that song mean to you?

JG: Yeah, that’s one of the older ones on the record and I remember writing it because someone might have hurt my feelings and I’m trying to say that I’m not really any different than anybody else. “I live right here with you.” It’s really simple. It’s not really that complex. There’s simple ideasI’m just like you; you’re just like methat sort of
have a really dark vibe to it and it turns into “I don’t live in a dream.” I live here in reality. I have to deal with the same parking problems as you. (laughs) I have to pick up my laundry from the Laundromat the same as you. The idea to me is very simple.

RR: There are several songs on the new record that contain a strong bullshit detector’ tone and you quite plainly state who you are and where you stand.

JG: Right. Exactly. There’s no reason to hide behind anything, I don’t think. I just don’t see a reason to hide behind anything. People are people (laughs at his aphorism and then sings “wherever you go”).

RR: Your band starts their tour in late March and heads out on the road for a little over a month. What can people expect from Jackie Greene on this tour?

JG: They can expect the new songs, for sure. Of course, we’ll do the old songs. There are some people that won’t let us get away without playing “Mexican Girl” or something. (laughs) We’re going to try and accommodate all of that but certainly, I want to try to be focusing on a lot of the new songs. There will be a little different instrumentation for me because there are some different instruments on the new recordlike instead of the acoustic guitar, I play a metal body Dobro and they’re crankier, a little more sinister.

In terms of what people can expect, I don’t know yet. We’ll be ready to go. A lot of these songs, we already know and we’ve played them live. We don’t want to do them just like the record. Things happen when you play live and a lot of things start taking on their own personality. There are just certain things that everybody ends up doing that works really well live, whether it be a tempo or key change or a complete part change. I’m really open to all of that. People can, hopefully, expect a good show. That’s all I can say.

RR: Collaboration with other musicians along the way?

JG: Oh, yeah. Tim Bluhm is opening up most of the shows and it’d be ridiculous to think that he’s not going to come out and play with us. We’re doing several shows with the Hips this tour, too and we’re all good friendseverybody in my band and the Hips. There might be some nights where it’s just a clusterfuck. (laughs) Ultimately, it’ll be fun.

RR: And you’re playing a special set at Bonnaroo in June with Phil Lesh, Larry Campbell, and his wife, vocalist Teresa Williams.

JG: Oh, that’s right. That’s right. We don’t know exactly what tunes we’re doing. Obviously, we’re doing some Dead stuff. It’s really all up to Phil, anyway but on the last tour, on the bus, Larry would bring his fiddle and I’d bring my acoustic guitar and we’d go through a bunch of fiddle tunes, bluegrass tunes, and some tunes that I know. Larry knows a shitload of tunes. We’d sit up until 4 in the morning, playing these songs and thinking, “It would be really fun to perform these songs,” so, hopefully, we’ll get to do
a lot of those songs that Larry and I love so much. Teresa knows all those tunes, too, because she’s married to him. (laughs) Hopefully, it’ll be more of a folky, country, bluegrassy tunes kind of thing. I couldn’t tell you. It’s up to Phil. Phil might surprise us and want to do something completely differentyou have to be on your toes.

RR: Speaking of on your toes, the gig to get behind Barack Obama’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination was put in motion by Phil Lesh rather quickly which recently produced a landmark gig at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. Was the energy in that theatre going through the roof?

JG: It was through the roof. I had never really experienced anything like it. There were people out there trying to sell their car to get a ticket. It was intense. It was very, very intense. I had just gotten over a really bad cold and I was on this cold medicine so I was kind of dopey. I had a lot of fun (laughs), but I probably would have had a lot more fun had I not been subdued. Even in that state, I could sense the intensity of everybody. When we started playing, it was just like, “Manwe’re really doing this. We’re really up here playing with these guys and it’s great and crazy.” (laughs) Honestly, the night whizzed by. It went by really fast. I thought, “We’re done, already? Oh, O.K.” (laughter)

RR: And it was a long night, too.

JG: Yeah, I know. (laughs) Those shows go on a long time. Our shows are not quite as long. Phil’s shows and those shows go on really long.

RR: Was it also a trip to be up there with Bob Weir and Mickey Hart?

JG: Yep. It was totally great. I was standing right in front of Mickey and he’s playing all of his talking drums and I’d kind of forget what I was doing because I was listening to him and I’d say, “Oh, shit! Sorry, guys,” because I was listening to everybody play.

RR: The Dead were always great at telling a story on stage with their live shows. I noticed that your new record is sequenced in a way that also tells a strong tale which works really well. Who sequenced the running order of Giving Up The Ghost?

JG: Steve and I did that. He does his sequence and I do mine and I think ours were almost identical except for two moves. That’s how well we know each other and I think he won.

_- Randy Ray stores his work at

Show 1 Comments