Mike Greene Escape From The Woodshed

Pale Pale Moon is the first album I ever recorded and contains songs I wrote in the early to mid ‘70’s. We were based in Atlanta and toured all over the country in support of this album. The Mike Greene Band was comprised of Mike Holbrook, David Michael, Rande Powell and myself.

The following was written by Michael Holbrook, bassist for the Mike Greene Band

Marietta, Georgia in 1967 was really nothing more than a Lockheed aircraft factory town. The 20 miles across the Chattahoochee River from Atlanta seemed like 200. Being a young musician of 16 or 17 having been raised on the Beatles and The Who, you did have a chance to be exposed to older more experienced musicians who learned to play by playing the blues , rockabilly, and real R&B. I was lucky enough to have known and learned from one of these musicians, a guitar player, Wayne Saules. Wayne told me one week in early ‘67 he had, along with a few other "veterans" had a new band "The Music Bach’s". I should come check them out, he had a new young singer who started out playing drums in the group but he liked his singing so much he moved him out front to sing, play his horn and practice his moves. His name was Mike Greene. They were playing at the only place in Marietta to play, the local radio stations weekly hop. I got there in the middle of the set, just as Mike was doing the Joe Tex song “Show Me a Man That's Got a Good Woman” he had to have been 5 or 6 yrs younger than anybody else in the band, but it didn’t sound like it. Really strong, with a feel that was right on. I went to hear the band a couple of more times and me and Mike became quick friends. It wasn't long before we were sitting after school in my bedroom with a black light and day-glow splattered pants listening to imported Who albums and digging deep into the Mississippi blues catalogue.

We started playing with a couple of other like-minded musicians. Mike sang, played sax, clarinet, Hammond b3 and the accordion. The name ended up being the "Vanilla Reign"; the name was not as original as our playing... we had to be the only band in the country who played the Who’s "Pictures of Lily" and I know the only band in Marietta to do a live version of "A Day in the Life" and “Eleanor Rigby”. It didn't take long for the "Yardbirds" and "Cream" to turn us into Marietta’s only blues band..."The Fat Blues Band". Bill Sheffield sang with Mike and played harp. We lightened up on the Cream and went after "Muddy", "Wolf" and the Butterfield band. Each new Paul Butterfield album was like a dream come true. We changed band members and my getting a fender bass made it official. It wasn't long before Mike and I became friends with Atlanta’s only real blues band; the "Hampton Grease Band". Marietta and Atlanta didn't seem that far apart anymore. The world of John Coltrane and the blues/jazz mix became our only focus. Mike and I soon started playing in the "Stump Brothers" a band that Grease band members Glenn Phillips and Jerry Fields had formed. When Mike was home from West GA college on the weekends all we did was play 5/4 7/4 6/8 ... Ornette ... Coltrane... improv vocals and the blues. We played all the clubs, but our home base was a great music house the "12th Gate" and one of its managers, Ursula Alexander became our biggest fan and my girlfriend. By that time I was also playing with the Grease Band. Toward the end of the Grease Band’s story Mike also joined the band. The end of the Grease Band pretty much meant the end of the Stump Brothers. Mike and I started playing with a few other musicians here and there. Mike started writing more. After playing with the Grease Band, Frank Zappa heard Mike sing and play and shipped Mike off to L.A. and he and Frank became friends. Mike was signed to record an album for Frank’s label, Discreet Records. Before that album was even started Mike Thevis heard the band and bought Mike’s contract from Zappa and he was signed to GRC Records in Atlanta.

Mike’s songs really started to open up and finding the right musicians to play the material became a full time job. Rande Powell was recommended by Chris Brubeck and he became our drummer and David Michael on guitar pretty much ended the search. We rehearsed 5 days a week, every week. It didn't take long for Mike to come up with more than enough material for a pretty good album. All the work paid off with a record deal with Atlanta based GRC records. We took a week in Nov of 74 , went to Ithaca N.Y. in the middle of the winter (because the producer Lew Futterman got the studio cheap) and recorded "pale, pale moon". As I remember the record was done pretty much live, very few overdubs. The record had the same feel and energy as the band playing live, and play live we did. It was nothing to drive from Cincinnati to Long Island overnight for 2 one nighters in a row. Could we go from Austin to Tampa for 2 in row? Sure! It was all worth it because sooner or later we would end up at the Chelsea in NYC or "swingos keg and quarter " in Cleveland. The endless scrabble games, poker, getting snowed in in Valley Forge PA for an entire week, only us and the bar, those long drives. Not really talking about anything but music. Coolers in the truck filled with Coors beer and skyline chili to take home. I don't remember doing anything just for money. For some reason, like it always had, not obsessing about the money made it really easy. In 76, we recorded "midnight mirage"...for the most part pretty much live, this time for the national label Mercury. When we weren’t on the road we were at it 5 days a week at Mike’s house. Played with some good bands at the time..."Weather Report" and John Mayall come to mind. It didn't seem that crazy to drive in so much snow you couldn’t see the road, or fog so thick for 75 miles you could walk along the side of the car. Who flew? For some reason Mike would only stay in Howard Johnson’s. Anyone could find us. After that album, who knows why, we were the ones who seemed to have got lost. We all seemed to go down a different road. The music was what stayed the same. These two albums and the music of the Stump Bro’s are only a small part of the energy and conviction that's not that different today than it was in 1967.

escapeEscape From the Woodshed
Released 2009
Lonely MonsterLonely Monster
Released 2011
Lonely MonsterPocket of a Thief
Released 2011
Lonely MonsterOn Tenterhooks
Released 2011
Lonely MonsterPale, Pale Moon
Originally released in 1976
Lonely MonsterMidnight Mirage
Originally released in 1977
Copyright © Mike Greene all rights reserved 2011