Jackie Greene, Big Sky, MT – 9/2
Jackie Greene has been busy lately but really, what’s new with that? The past few months have seen him release a book filled with lyrics and songs he has written, displaying his first art show last August in Aspen, CO, join the band Trigger Hippy and undertaking a tour of the South, play with Bob Weir and Chris Robinson as a trio and now return to his band for an extensive tour. It was truly a special treat for the heavily scheduled troubadour to come all the way up to Big Sky, Montana and put on a show opening for Blues Legend Keb Mo.
At 7,200 feet above sea level, a backdrop painted with trees and the overlooking Rocky Mountains, Big Sky is in every since of the word BIG. And an amazing setting for a show of any kind. As you drive up U.S. route 191 you zig-zag the famous Gallatin River through the impressive but narrow valley that it stakes claim to. At the Highway’s end you’ll come to an opening and the gates of The Yellowstone National Park, here a valley opens up and makes room enough for the town of Big Sky. It was here that Jackie Greene and his regular band with multi-talented guitarist Nathan Dale took to the stage at about 6:30 pm. Playing a gauntlet of old songs, popular classics and newer tracks from his latest album, 2010’s Till The Light Comes, it was a raucous set of rock, and roots.
The energy behind one such newer and popular track, “Medicine” was received in such a powerful way that the crowd of standing and sitting fans found themselves moving in and taking up all the grass before the stage to dance. “I’m So Gone,” from 2006’s American Myth was a nice and popular treat. “With his cowboy hat on and his tell-tale leather vest Jackie and Nathan shared licks and solos for a memorable, “I Don’t Live In A Dream”, from 2008’s Giving Up The Ghost. Later on in the show with the warm sun setting in his eyes Jackie, sporting a pair of sunglasses took to his organ to play a very popular “Shaken” and soulful “Tell Me’ Mama”.
For a Jackie Greene show this one was very dialed in on the electric side and packed with hits. He didn’t spend time with acoustic songs and only busted out his harp for one song, and as the show continued, the crowd grew and grew until it was standing or rather dancing room only unless you hiked up the hill to the back of the venue. During this point Jackie dropped into the well-known opening licks of the Grateful Dead’s “New Speedway Boogie.” As he did so, he paused for a moment and asked the crowd if there were any Deadheads in the audience, garnering great cheers. Then he and his band jammed out “Speedway,” segueing it into “Other One Jam” and then back into “Speedway” before a brief “Bird Song” tease and the final verse of “NSB.” It was a fun jaunt and great takes of Grateful Dead tunes, one thing he has become famous for doing.
It was hard to leave unimpressed with the 90 minute performance. Combine the loaded song choices and execution, Greene’s rock star almost cowboy-like persona and the beautiful setting of the venue, it goes to show why Jackie Greene and his talented band remain a force on the touring circuit today. Instead of being just another set from an opening act it became a show onto itself and with an icon such as Keb Mo to follow that is truly a testament to Greene’s evolving talent.