Photos: Jackie Greene marks year 36 with Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Nicki Bluhm and friends
Photos: Jon Bauer
SAN FRANCISCO — As has been the case for several years, folk singer-songwriter Jackie Greene celebrated his birthday and Thanksgiving with a locally set show. For no. 36, The Warfield played host to The Jackie Greene Band as well as a cadre of venerable guests.
The evening was divided into three sets, each one deliciously distinctive from the next. The show showcased Greene’s ability to set and sustain a clarity of tone and intention. Each set was a chapter unto itself, with the culmination of the three appealing to even those unfamiliar with the hippie folk genre.
The first set featured Greene’s music; including a few songs off his latest album, Back to Birth. True to form, he held center stage while working seamlessly with fellow bandmates. Jason Crosby, Mark Karan and Bruce Spencer joined the band at times, most notably on a hypnotizing version of The Allman Brothers’ “Hot ‘Lanta.”
After a short break, the band returned for a short but sweetly soulful acoustic set lead by Bob Weir. After tucking in to a few tunes from Blue Mountain, Weir’s latest album, the band segwayed into Greene’s “Gone Wanderin’” and “Light up Your Window,” before finishing up with The Dead’s “Ripple.” The acoustic interlude acted as a sort of aural palate cleanser, preparing the audience for the intricate musical delicacies to come.
The third and final act of the tryptic brought Phil Lesh front and center. From that point onward, the show was a trip down a familiar, if not beautifully constructed and superbly orchestrated, memory lane. Songs included favorites like “Dark Star,” “China Cat Sunflower” and “Scarlett Begonias.” Midway through, Nicki Bluhm joined Lesh and the band for an elegantly playful version of “Fire on the Mountain.” The evening ended with Greene’s group of esteemed guests presenting him with a birthday cake and singing “Happy Birthday” before breaking into the encore, “Sugaree.” Not a bad way to spend one’s birthday.