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The Jesse Green Band sizzled at Irene’s

By Terry Steeves on July 27, 2015

Local artists, The Jesse Greene Band, shook up a packed house at Irene’s Pub on Friday night, with their highly charged brand of rockin’ powerhouse blues. Now changed from a 5-piece down to a 4-piece, Jesse Greene tells me about the new band configuration:

“At first, I had gotten used to playing with another guitarist, but now I’m not phrasing things around a second player and taking a rhythm in that balance. Having a guest at the show made me realize that while it’s nice to have a second guitarist there, it’s not something that I really need.”

Favourite standards such as “Polk Salad Annie”, “Voodoo Woman”, and “Sweet Home Chicago”, were transformed into thundering rock renditions. Setting the tremendously solid backbone of this band, were drummer, Matt Wood, and bassist Kurt Walther, who worked as a tight unit. I was amazed at how the two completely fed off each other in their silent communication, as their combined forces amplified all the material. Piercing his way through with flavoured accents and electrifying solos was harmonica player, Marc Seguin. I anticipated each moment he’d go into one of his sequences, which he delivered in a storm of fire and passion, and drew an eruption of cheers from the crowd every time.

From underneath her dark long locks that bore a blues-style fedora, came a voice that had the smoky timbre of Bonnie Raitt, the wonderful raspiness of Janis Joplin and at times, the nostalgic tremolo of Bessie Smith. Her guitar playing and lead work was impressive as she churned out some deep-toned progressions on her ruby coloured Hagstrom. Now 32, Greene has been playing guitar since age 11 and has developed her style through her vast array of influences:

Jesse Greene

Jesse Greene

“I started on a little acoustic/electric Ovation smaller-bodied guitar. My mom showed me finger-picking…she played a lot of Joni Mitchell, who I absolutely adored, and I learned to play some other folk stuff too. I started writing when I was about 15. The first song I wrote had more of a straight folk influence. I got into blues when I was living in Perth and I started busking. At that time, I was listening to a lot of Zeppelin…in fact, I’ve always been a big fan of 70’s rock.”

In 2010, the band made the finalist roster at the prestigious, International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Also that same year, they landed a gig at the Blue Skies Music Festival in Clarendon, Ontario…a place Greene had frequented since childhood. She shared with me some of these defining musical moments of her life:

“In 2010, we played at Blue Skies Festival, which happened through connections after we won the OBS Road To Memphis contest here in Ottawa. A little girl made me a paper princess tiara to wear, which I did through that whole performance…I still have it. That was an amazing experience, but I’d have to say, it was that contest show which got us there, that really hit me with knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

Her sultry vocal tones shone during the slow, smouldering numbers like Raitt’s, “Love Me Like A Man”, and Joplin’s, “One Good Man”, and “Turtle Blues”. I loved the vamped up goodness of “Good Mornin’ Little Schoolgirl” and the swampy blues heaviness of “Amos Moses”. Their arrangements of these songs brought a unique quality to the music and almost sounded like their own compositions. I also enjoyed the very 30’s style swing beat of “Sweet Thing”, an original from their self-titled EP, as well as their Chicago blues-flavoured, “Mojo Man”.

The stage sizzled with heated solo exchanges by each musician and featured some amazing guest performances by vocalist and guitarist couple, Nathalia and Tony Cook, as well as by guitarists, Fred Carriere, and Jamieson Mackay. I was moved by the electric chemistry that took place onstage when the band really got into their groove and things really started to cook. It was something you could see as well as hear, as the atmosphere intensified with the audience’s reciprocation. The Jesse Greene Band completely won me over and have definitely been added to my list of amazing local talent.

For more info on the band and showtimes, please visit their Facebook page.