© 2017 Gary Green Productions, Inc.
MUSIC

Into the 21st century: almost, but…

In December of 2000 legendary session and stage guitarist James Burton introduced Gary to rock and roll icon Jerry Lee Lewis at an airport lounge in San Jose California. The two men, with longtime Lewis friend and ultra-talent Kenny Lovelace, convinced Gary to accompany them to Las Vegas where backstage at the Silverton Casino they encouraged Gary Green to return to his life as a musician. With not only this world-class encouragement but it being from the very people that had inspired him as a child in the 1950’s, Gary began flirting with a musical return with a fusion traditional country/folk/rockabilly roots with digital technology and the participation of friends. The Rick Ruben acoustic-folkie resurrection of Gary’s teen-years mentor Johnny Cash further fueled Still, he hesitated to explore that route because of the almost-bitter resistance to his music 30 years earlier from both the New York folk community and the Nashville country world. He continued to be haunted by his embrace of traditional styles and roots being so far outside of the commercial markets. So he, again, walked away before he even started. In January of 2006, Cowboy Jack Clement (best known for his work for Sam Phillips at Sun Records and with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison as well as later work with Waylon Jennings), asked Gary to allow him to produce a new album for Gary Green.  Both men played big Gibson J-200 guitars and enjoyed trading riffs; and Jack often traveled to South Florida where Gary was living. So, with encouragement from a producer who had been one of Gary’s childhood and adolescent heroes, Gary could not resist and gave Jack the “go-ahead”. Clement began assembling Nashville session players, reviewing Gary’s Folkways recordings, and rehearsing Gary for hours-on-end to focus on his rhythm, musical phrasing, and commercial appeal. He sent Gary hours of recordings of Don Williams  and other of his favorites that he thought fit Gary’s style. Along with the recordings he gave Gary specific instructions for study, practice, and development. The two friends continued working together and preparing for a new album for the next six years, with Clement personally controlling Gary’s work. Finally, they decided that 2013 would be the year to record. Clement made plans for Gary to come to his home studio in Nashville, near Belmont College, and move into Clement’s “Cowboy Hotel” house during the summer of 2013. However, the legendary producer’s health was getting worse and worse (he was, by this time, in his early 80’s). Clement died in August of that year. In the second decade of the 21st century, as Gary approached 60 years old, he still had not returned to a studio despite the brush with the famous producer'.

It wasn’t the musical influences, but the

political ones that brought Gary Green back to a

studio…

On June 17, 2015 a crazed lunatic in South Carolina, only 80 miles from where Gary had operated his circus for three years, gunned down nine worshipers in an African-American church. Beyond the deranged perversity of the murders, the vile act finally spurred the South Carolina legislature to take down the Confederate battle flag that had flown over the state capitol for 54 years as  “a states’-rights rebuff to desegregation” (as Time Magazine described it). Outraged that it took a mass murder to spark moral legislative action, Gary recalled a song from his third album, Snakebite Poison, that he had written in 1979 about racial hatred in his beloved southern homeland. He modified the lyrics to address the 2015 Charleston tragedy. In July of that year, Gary and his brother, Ron, flew to Santa Rosa California to the home studio of Gary’s close friend Tony Cohen.  Tony, a skilled improvisational lead guitar player, had recently been  certified in “Music Technology and Recording Engineering” at high-end state of the art  Wolford Studio. With Tony at the board just after July 4th 2015, Gary and Ron recorded the redux of Snakebite Poison. They, then, produced this video (above). Click on the arrow to see the video and hear that recording. True to Gary’s musical roots, the song is presented acoustically (with Gary playing his 2005 Taylor 814 L10 limited edition with cocobolo back (rather than the standard rosewood back) and distinctive tail wood maple banding, ebony tuners, maple banding on fret board, with abalone inlays. Ron plays Tony’s vintage Gretch . More details of the recording session can be viewed in the raw footage of the session posted on Gary’s YouTube page.

Still Gary did not return to music full time.

Between meeting James Burton and later Jack Clement, Gary began waging a long lobby with the board of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to lift their ban on inducting sidemen. Finally in 2001 he won the battle, successfully pushing for James Burton to become the first sideman inducted. Meanwhile, in 2007, post-punk alternative rocker Frank Black (first famed as the front man for the 1980s band "The Pixies") released a live version of a song from Gary Green's third album, "That Burnt Out Rock and Roll." On the European version of his "93-03" album, track 28 (of the two-CD set) Black belts a powerful version of the song that further served to spur Gary Green toward a return to music. (Click here to hear that cover>>) In 2009 Amazon and the iTunes Store began offering individual downloads of the original three Folkways Records albums recorded by Gary Green … and the royalty checks started back for Gary. People were listening again. Pandora, Spotify, and other streaming services began offer the three albums. In 2016, pushed by his friend, Actor Bill Oberst Jr., and encouraged by his early 1970’s high school friend, Tom Boshamer, Gary decided to for an entertainment production company… that would include stage productions, film, music, casino entertainment projects, and anything that broadly touched the field of entertainment. A founding conference in Las Vegas was followed by a second round of meetings at the 2016 Americana Festival in Nashville. (Photo at the left is at the Vegas founding meeting. Left to right: Tom Boshamer, ledgendary (and controversial) Stax Records promotions man Eddie Braddock, Linda Gayle Lewis (younger sister of Jerry Lee Lewis), Gary, Bill Oberst Jr., Monica Maciel, and Tony Cohen.) Gary tapped Monica Maciel, a 30-year music industry promoter to be CEO of the new Gary Green Productions Inc. and she immediately introduced him to legendary Memphis record producer and sessions player Niko Lyras.  The two men instantly connected in a mutual vision for the recording industry and Gary made the decision to launch a record label: Tenare Records, the name coming from a Latin idiom meaning “touches the soul.” In January of 2017, with his eye on recording a commercially viable Gary Green album, he found a permanent home for the new record label. Gary and Niko agreed that Tenare Records would buy Niko’s historic Cotton Row Recording studio in Memphis (which Gary is quick to point out includes a classic Hammond B3 Organ that has appeared on many classic rock and soul records). With his own recording being a project for the distant future, the new venture focuses on creating a new model boutique record label with 21st century technologies merging with the classic 1950’s record label model of Sun, Stax, Chess, and other pioneering early labels. As for Gary Green’s own return to recording and performances … stay tuned.