Fri., 10/12, Doors: 7 p.m., Show: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15-$20/adv or $17-$25 day of
Brooklyn Arts Center
516 N. Fourth St.
He has been called the “prince of Americana” and “the new Bob Dylan,” but Jackie Greene is much more than a mere title. Like most musicians, Greene doesn’t particularly like having his music labeled; he’d much rather let people make up their own minds about it and hear it for what it is. His soulful, bluesy vibe, combined with a little bit of folk and just a touch of rock ‘n’ roll, creates a sound that is 100 percent all Greene.
A Northern California-native born Chris Nelson, Greene eventually took on his childhood nickname from a film and literary inspiration: “Jackie” from a movie—he isn’t even sure which one—and “Greene” after writer, Graham Greene. Both his name change and his musical spark started early in life.
Aside from a brief stint of piano lessons, Greene is a primarily self-taught musician. In his teens, he starting playing bar gigs long before he was old enough to patron them. Seven records later, his dedication is still going strong.
“Music is one of those passions that never seemed to diminish for me,” Greene muses. “I don’t really know why. It’s exciting, for sure. I’ve been lucky enough to play with lots of great artists over the years so that helps a lot.”
A mix of various genres and influences, Greene’s heartfelt hum of the harmonica in combination with the purity of his acoustic guitar fit the Americana mold well. Still, he manages to defy it with a rock edge in his voice. Over the years, Greene has refined and perfected his craft, but still reflects many of his early influences.
“I was a big Bob Dylan fan when I was younger,” he remarks. “Still am, actually. When I was in high school, I was really into blues and soul: Ray Charles, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy were my heroes. Nobody I went to high school with had heard of them.”
It wasn’t until high school that Greene stumbled upon the singing-songwriting troubadour Tom Waits. “His music made me want to write songs,” he credits. “I’m a big Tom Waits fan.”
Over the years, Greene has had the opportunity to share the stage with many incredibles, including one of his musical heroes, The Band’s Levon Helm. “He was one of my heroes, for sure,” Greene notes of the recently deceased. “His whole demeanor, the way he approached music, his voice—legendary. I’ve been lucky enough to play with a lot of fantastic people—B.B. King, Mark Knopfler, Los Lobos, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir. I learn from all of them.”
Two years have elapsed since Greene’s last record, “Till the Light Comes.” He’s currently working on a new one, but hasn’t yet set a release date. Likewise, he’s allowing the music to follow its own beat of the drum, so to speak.
“It’s hard to say right now [what direction it will take],” he admits. “I would say that a lot of the new songs are more acoustic-based.”
Though still in its initial phase, Greene notes the time restrictions he faces while on tour. “I won’t have much time to work on it until next year,” he says, “so, we’ll have to wait and see.”
The title of the record will likely come later as well, considering he prefers to name his album until after every song is finished. The whole often leads to the best descriptors of the entire record.
Playing over 100 shows a year, Greene’s 2012 tour includes dates across the nation. He’ll stop in at Brooklyn Arts Center on Friday, October 12th. He’s been mixing up the tour with acoustic and full-band shows; either way audiences can expect a dynamic and engaging performance.
“I guess lately I prefer playing with a band because most of the material calls for it,” Greene says. “I imagine I’ll do some solo acoustic tours here and there, too.”
Presented by HUKA Entertainment and Progressive Music Group, tickets are only $15 to $25, depending if you buy them beforehand or the day of the show, and if you’ll stand front row center, or relax in the balcony.