Around this time last year, I had decided to check out a young local female artist, who I was told played and sang some mean blues. The rumours were completely true as this woman by the name of Jesse Greene, tore up the stage with her no-nonsense blues mix of originals and creative covers. When I learned that The Jesse Greene Band was part of this year’s Bluesfest line-up, I made sure to mark the date on my calendar.
She boarded the Black Sheep Stage armed with her ruby Hagstrom guitar, and her 3-man force-to-be-reckoned-with contingent of drums (Matt Wood), bass (Kurt Walther), and harmonica (Marc Seguin). The band opened with a bluesier, sultrier version of Peggy Lee’s, “Fever”, a perfect cover choice that outlined Jesse’s smoky vocals.
I loved the jazz-infused instrumentation on their original, “Midnight”, from their recently released EP, Find It Tonight. It featured Seguin’s dynamic blues melody line treatment, and the flawless bassline/rhythm groove and alternating time signatures held down by Wood and Walther. Others from the new album included the quick-paced, “Good Time Lady”, the tribal beat flavour of “Travelling Man”, the blues/rock power-chorded goodness of “No More Roll”, and the title track “Find It Tonight”, a very infectious washboard blues piece loaded with 3-part harmonies, a solid bassline, and more stand-out harp sequences.
They strayed from the new album to play “Mojo Man”, one of my favourites from their first self-titled effort. I loved its stop-start goodness, Greene’s sweet and spicy vocals, and the duelling solo banter with Seguin which delighted the crowd everytime. Greene drew out a sexy chord intro on an old classic, “Polk Salad Annie”, which again featured the very Bonnie Raitt-like timbres of her voice, and the passionate drive of the harmonica.
There was a long flowing instrumental opening that introduced their final song, “Rusty Cage”, which had a very Santana-like feel, and highlighted Greene’s dexterity between rhythm and lead parts. The song’s fiery winding rhythm and melody broke into half-time, and delivered a Hendrix Voodoo Child surprise, complete with a great wah-heavy solo.
The Jesse Greene Band sizzled with stand-out performances from all, as well as showcased the band’s incredible tightness. Their new material from their album Find It Tonight impressed me with its array of rhythms, and genre colours of blues, rock, and jazz that wander off the beaten path, and into unique, fresher territory.