Rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ breakfast: Jackie Greene returns to Asheville

who: Jackie Greene, with Ruston Kelly
where: The Grey Eagle
when: Sunday, Oct. 7 (8 p.m. $15. thegreyeagle.com)

In advance of his Sunday, Oct. 7 show at The Grey Eagle, Americana artist Jackie Greene talked to Xpress about playing with his heroes, working on his next album and trying to dodge the video camera.

Mountain Xpress: You performed in Weir Robinson Greene (with Bob Weir and Chris Robinson) earlier this year. You each represent a different generation of the same genre. Do you feel like you're part of a musical tradition?
Jackie Greene:  I definitely think that I'm part of a long Americana tradition. It's the kind of music I like to listen to and play. The Grateful Dead and The Black Crowes both belong to that tradition — American rock ‘n’ roll at its finest.

Seems like The Grateful Dead is an important influence for you, but you were only 14 when Jerry Garcia passed away. Did you ever get to see him perform live?
Never did, no. I didn't really know that much Grateful Dead music until I started playing with Phil and Friends in 2006.

Speaking of legends, you got to perform with Levon Helm at a number of his Midnight Rambles. Since Helm passed away this year, can you share a memory from one of those sessions?
Levon is one of my heroes. Always has been. There's no one like him. I had the good fortune of playing many Rambles and touring with Levon and company. I remember my first Ramble: I was very nervous but Levon made me feel right at home. He was all warmth and hospitality. He offered me a Coke in a glass bottle. The entire staff is warm and inviting — it's like an oasis, that place. 

You just released the video for "Silver Lining" (from your upcoming album). It's a really heart-on-sleeve sort of song, and it seems like it taps some sense of longing or perhaps disappointment. Is it autobiographical or metaphorical?
Well, a little of each I suppose. "Silver Lining" is more or less about a longing for some sort of success. At the end, the singer realizes that his silver lining lives inside of him. 

You stick to straightforward performance videos — no high concepts or crazy sets. What are your thoughts on the relationship of songs and visuals?
Well, we don't really have much in the way of music videos. Never really gone down that path too far. It's something I'd like to try someday, though. The that you mentioned was just done at my house with a handheld camera. We couldn't really get too crazy with that. I like the visual aspect of music, I just don't like looking at myself on film. I'm always trying to get out of the shot.

You've played Asheville a number of times — any special memories?
Asheville is a special place, for sure. I remember my first Xmas jam. What an amazing event: Really cool people and a great vibe. I'm looking forward to breakfast at Early Girl.

Alli Marshall can be reached at amarshall@mountainx.com.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts writer and editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs.

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