MUSIC BOX: Trio of Monster… Songwriters
Jackie Greene, Anders Osborne and Hayes Carll form fierce trifecta at Center and The Lil Smokies fire up the Tavern.
JACKSON HOLE, WY – There’s a new tradition being sown at the Center for the Arts. While the Center has hosted quality concerts since its inception, it is now putting together one-off pairings of artists who might only casually know each other from, say, hanging out backstage at a festival. Take a peek at the tour dates listed on the websites of Jackie Greene, Anders Osborne and Hayes Carll and you’ll find only one date listed as “An Evening with” featuring these three monster songwriters playing together in Jackson.
“I planted the seed with these guys and then didn’t hear anything back for a while,” said Shannon McCormick, program director for Center for the Arts. “Anders and Jackie ended up liking the idea so much that they put together a couple of other duo shows in the region.”
Analogous to the recent show in which Nicki Bluhm joined Lucas Nelson’s band, or the never-before combination of Rich Robinson, Luther Dickinson, Robert Randolph, and Ivan Neville last winter, these inventive bills are more than meets the eye. Whereas the touring bands of any of these artists are well-rehearsed, “tight” as a unit and building on years of live stage chemistry, the open personality and creative capacity requirement for gathering with peers in unfamiliar territory is a testament to both the vision of McCormick and the skill of the musicians.
Risk is where the magic looms and Jackson audiences get to stay on the edge of their seats.
“They’ll be trading songs back and forth in the round [in the same spirit as the Robinson-Dickinson-Randolph-Neville show] and sitting-in when they’re feeling it,” McCormick said. “Hosting these scenarios is a real treat, watching them get to know each other and work out the creative process right before our eyes.”
From previous shows at the Center to Grand Targhee festivals and free concert series, Greene, Osborne and Carll each have a rich history of performances in Teton County. Greene, especially, is no stranger to jumping into unfamiliar territory and seems to feed off of it. Back in 2007, he was tapped as singer/guitarist for Phil Lesh and Friends, dedicated to the interpretation of the Grateful Dead songbook. It was completely unfamiliar material for him. The next Targhee Fest he opened with the Dead tune “New Speedway Boogie,” and a long jam ensued.
“It’s great being on the edge of what could be a train wreck at any moment, but somehow the band manages to figure it out on the spot,” Greene told Dead.net in 2011. “Phil gave me the best advice. He told me, ‘You just have to give yourself permission to do it.’”
Of course locals that attended the 2015 Fireman’s Ball, which featured Osborne as a member of North Mississippi Allstars, will never forget it. Some attendees have noted the set as their favorite Jackson concert of all time. Osborne, like Greene, is equally comfortable finger-picking a ballad on acoustic guitar or turning their electric guitar amp to 10 and melting faces in an open-ended jam session.
Adding Carll to this mix—a Texas troubadour that is firmly established as the now generation of Towns Van Zandt/Guy Clark style of singer-songwriter country-folk—will certainly add to the collective storytelling element. An Evening with Anders Osborne, Jackie Greene and Hayes Carll, 7 p.m. Sunday, January 15 at the Center Theater. $59-$69. JHCenterForTheArts.org, 734-8956.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em
Half of the faces of The Lil Smokies have changed since performing at Town Square Tavern in 2015, including the parting of vocalist/guitarist and former Jackson local Pete Barrett. But being awarded the 2016 IBMA Momentum Band of the Year is serious street cred. It’s no wonder the band hasn’t released an album since its 2013’s self-titled album—it seems they haven’t had time. Now a five-piece, the Missoula-based progressive bluegrass outfit has been on a roll since winning both the 2015 Telluride Band Competition and the Northwest String Summit Band Competition. The feisty ensemble now features founding members Andy Dunnigan (dobro) and Matt Cornette (banjo) along with Scott Parker (upright bass), Jake Simpson (fiddle) and Matt Rieger (guitar).
“The awards are huge for publicity and notoriety … they have all been kind of stepping stones,” Dunnigan recently told The Poke Around. “It’s cool, you get to put it on the poster, and people who wouldn’t normally check out your music will be like, ‘Oh shit, I’m going to check out this show.’ They’re big catalysts, and I think maybe they help with our own sanity and the fact that maybe we’re not as delusional as we once thought we were.”
The Lil Smokies, 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, January 13 and 14 at Town Square Tavern. $10. 733-3886. PJH
Aaron Davis is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.
Vinyl Night (The Rose)
Major Zephyr (Silver Dollar), Drunken Hearts (Town Square Tavern)
The Lil Smokies (Town Square Tavern), Fire & Guns (Virginian), Boondocks (Trap Bar)
Gipsy Moon (Knotty Pine), Jonathan Warren & The Billy Goats (Silver Dollar), The Lil Smokies (Town Square Tavern)
Anders Osborne, Jackie Greene & Hayes Carll (Center Theater), Stagecoach Band (Stagecoach)
Elle Carpenter (Mangy Moose), Patrick Chadwick & Lauren Conrad (Trap Bar)
PTO (Hole Bowl), Maw Band (Mangy Moose)