Whisky Loving Rock ‘N Roll Maven
Behind the scenes with the touring and recording multi-instrumentalist and brand ambassador for Label 5 Blended Scotch Whisky
by Jon Shakill
Jessy Greene is a rock ‘n roll maven who prefers a good whisky on the rocks over a pink cocktail. A highly-talented professional multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, she is also the spokesmodel and brand ambassador for Label 5 Blended Scotch Whisky. Beaming with positivity, Jessy is passionate about what she does.
Primarily a strings player specializing in violin, she also plays the cello, guitar, keyboards and is a vocalist. A virtuoso violinist, you won’t find Jessy Greene sitting first chair in the orchestra – no, she much prefers rocking out, whether it’s in a sold-out arena, or in the local bar.
She has recorded and toured the world with Grammy-Award winning artists like Pink and the Foo Fighters, performing in sold-out arenas for tens of thousands of people at a time. She has also had success as a solo artist, recording for major film soundtracks and getting placements on TV shows like Burn Notice.
In 2008, Jessy notably played a mega-concert at Wembley Stadium in the U.K. with the Foo Fighters, to a sold-out crowd reaching close to 100,000 fans. The concert was recorded live and released on DVD as Foo Fighters Live at Wembley Stadium, which was three times Platinum in Australia, Gold in New Zealand and received international acclaim. The entire concert is also available on YouTube, and is worth watching – the song “Marigold” prominently features Jessy, and shows her wonderful talent.
When I asked Jessy about the incredible experience, she told me: “I have to say, when I watch the documentary movie of the Foo Fighters playing live at Wembley Stadium, I cannot believe I was actually there playing in front of so many people. But when I think back to being there, I don’t remember being nervous. I mean I always get nervous, I just don’t remember being more nervous than normal.”
Whisky is a tool that has helped the rockin’ violinist manage her nerves. According to Jessy, “It doesn’t matter if I’m playing in front of one person or a hundred thousand people, I get nervous – it’s just my nature. I don’t mind it, I think it helps to inspire a good performance – but it’s also why I like a good whisky to help calm my nerves a little bit.”
If playing in front of 100,000 wasn’t enough to make her more nervous than normal, maybe it was backstage after the show. Jimmy Page went up to her and said, “I can tell you’re the violin player because of those boots, and I love the way you wield that bow,” Jessy says. “I almost fell over at that point – come on, it’s Jimmy Page!”
In 2013, Jessy played with the Sound City Players project that was produced by Dave Grohl, joining an all-star lineup “that was awesome beyond belief.” In addition to Jessy and Dave, the list of musicians who came together for the documentary and associated tour, included: Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty, Rick Springfield, Rick Nielsen, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Krist Novoselic, Brad Wilk, Corey Taylor, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, Rami Jaffee, Alain Johannas, Chris Goss, and more.
According to Jessy, “Dave Grohl called me to come and work on a song in the studio with him, Rami Jaffee, Jim Keltner and Nate Mendel. So we recorded a song, then Dave asked me if I wanted to go on tour with the project called Sound City Players, in support of the documentary by the same name.”
Having recorded and played with some of the best, Jessy’s successful music career has led her into the world of spirits, as spokesmodel and brand ambassador for Label 5 Blended Scotch Whisky. The roots of the relationship go back to her time playing with Wilco, when she met spirits distributor Joel McLay.
Jessy says, “He was interested in working with me, so that’s when I started promoting Jagermeister at some of my shows. Joel would also hire me to play at some of their events.” That was her initial introduction into the spirits industry. Then, as Jessy points out, “Years later, Joel told me about a whisky that I would like, knowing that I’m into whisky on the rocks, and not all of the sweet cocktails. So that’s when he introduced me to Label 5 Scotch, and said he wanted to work with me. I tried the whisky and it was delicious, so I said ‘I’m in!’”
Label 5 Blended Scotch Whisky
Born in 1969 and blended in the Scottish Highlands, Label 5 is a very smooth and flavorful blended Scotch whisky. There is a distinctive, yet mild peat flavor, with notes of vanilla along with a floral finish. It is a Scotch that works well both sipped on the rocks and in classic mixed whisky cocktails.
The origins of the brand name “Label 5” go back to the first attempts of making a great, smooth Blended Scotch Whisky. Several samples were prepared in order to reach the perfect blend. After conducting a tasting, the Master Blender chose the fifth batch, which he felt represented the most authentic and smooth tasting whisky.
Label 5 is new to the U.S. market, but has existed as a global brand since its inception. It is currently the number 9 ranked Scotch whisky worldwide in terms of case sales, and is the 42nd largest selling spirit in the world. It is also the number 2 selling Scotch in the French market, and has global distribution in over 100 countries.
The Scotch has gained much worldwide popularity, and has only recently been launched nationally across the states. Currently available in 30 states, the brand will be launching in five new U.S. markets each year until it is in all 50 states. Some of the newest markets include Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.
Q&A with Jessy Greene
Jessy & Label 5
Jon Shakill: What is your role with Label 5 Whisky?
Jessy Greene: I’m the spokesmodel and a brand ambassador. Being involved with the whisky is a great mutual relationship that benefits both the brand and me. Being in the music industry, which is going through tough times, this is a great way to do business. The partnership between music and spirits is such a great one for someone like me, who does everything on my own. Of course I am fortunate to make a living playing with bands that are on major record labels, but as a solo artist I have to do everything myself.
Jon Shakill: How do you incorporate your music with the brand – do you share it with your friends and fans while touring?
Jessy Greene: Label 5 was looking for more than someone to just take a good picture. They wanted a “real person” – someone authentic who can represent the brand in what they do, and so I’m able to show that through my music. I always bring the whisky with me when I play shows and share it with people. Something that I’m excited about is that on every bottle there is going to be a picture of me along with a code, which allows people to download a song from my band Fauntella Crow. So when you go to the Label 5 website, you’ll be able to download one of my songs that I made just for that purpose.
Jon Shakill: Have you always been a whisky drinker?
Jessy Greene: I started getting into whisky about 10 or 15 years ago, when I began noticing people drinking whisky sours and drinks that I wasn’t really familiar with, but were really interesting to me. That’s when I realized that there are a couple cocktails made with whisky that I really like, and that whisky is also great just on the rocks.
Jon Shakill: When do you usually enjoy your whisky?
Jessy Greene: I get stressed out right before I play a show, and I have to say the most wonderful thing for me is to have something that calms me down, and whisky does that. I’ve also noticed that a little bit of whisky helps my throat before I have to sing. For me, I’m the kind of person that likes to just have a couple drinks and get a nice little buzz. I feel like I never get sick or have a hangover – which is probably because I don’t drink a ton. It’s just a wonderful relaxer and stage calmer for me. I also like a little bit after shows as a nice release and a little celebration.
More about Music
Jon Shakill: Tell me about your solo projects including your newer band Fauntella Crow. What are your goals and plans for your band?
Jessy Greene: I’m all in with whatever happens with Fauntella Crow. I have a lot of wonderful warm feelings about the project. I absolutely adore Sunday Lane who is the singer, keyboard player, and co-writer and co-producer with me. We make a great team.
Jon Shakill: How did you come together with Sunday Lane to start Fauntella Crow?
Jessy Greene: We met when I was working on a soundtrack in Hollywood and she was working with the same producer at that time. She asked me to play violin on one of her songs, and I asked her to play on the soundtrack I was working on. After that, we ended up just playing and improvising a song that came out of nowhere, and that ended up being a song on our EP album. At first, we thought the band might be something we could do just for film and television, but at this point, we love playing together live and would love to tour. We have a ton of songs that we’re super excited about, and we’re looking for a producer now to do a record.
Jon Shakill: Who are the major bands and musicians that you’ve played with, either touring or recording?
Jessy Greene: I’ve toured a lot and recorded with the Foo Fighters which was awesome. I’ve also toured the world with Pink. I used to play with Wilco and also a band called the Jayhawks. I was in a band together with Ben Harper, Dhani Harrison and Joseph Arthur, called Fistful of Mercy – I also play with Joseph Arthur a lot, he’s great. I also played on Glen Campbell’s record, which was awesome. Lately, I’ve been playing in a great cover band with Rami Jaffee [The Wallflowers] and a bunch of great people like Clem Burke [Blondie] and Dave Krusen [Pearl Jam].
Jon Shakill: What are some of the crazy stories that you have from being out on major arena rock tours with the Foo Fighters and Pink? What goes on behind the scenes?
Jessy Greene: In 2007, I got the first call from the Foo Fighters to join them on their tour, and I just felt like a teenager again. I felt so incredibly blessed, and it really felt like an on-going celebration. The band was a blast to be around, because everyone is so passionate about their music, and passionate about their lives. It’s fun to be around people who really love what they do – it’s a really wonderful thing.
On the Foo Fighters tour, there was a tour bus called the “red bus.” That was the party bus, and that’s where we would have dance parties and just act like teenagers. Part of it could be that music really keeps you young. I had to re-learn my tolerance a little bit though, because I hadn’t really been partying like that since I was younger. But I definitely figured out pretty fast to lay off the Jager-Bombs! It’s really all about enjoying, appreciating and celebrating, while also being able to maintain composure – that’s what is really important, especially in this business.
Jon Shakill: What about touring with Pink?
Jessy Greene: The Pink tour was very different for me than the Foo Fighters tour. They were both great experiences, but just a lot different. With Pink it was much more about work and putting on a show. It was with the Foo Fighters as well, but it was just a little stricter with Pink. I would usually enjoy a hot toddy on the bus after the shows, but that was it. It was sometimes necessary to help me sleep on a tour bus with 11 people and a dog!
Jon Shakill: It sounds like it was very different touring with Pink, than it was with the Foo Fighters?
Jessy Greene: With Pink it was just a different ballgame. There weren’t a lot of dance parties – which doesn’t mean we weren’t having fun, it was just a little more of a serious atmosphere. But we did a lot of shows. Pink is hardcore – I have nothing but the ultimate respect for her and I loved being on tour with her. It was just very different for me. We did around 200 shows in a year in different cities. During 2009, I had a break from touring with her for maybe two weeks out of the whole year. We did four months in Australia alone, then all of spring and fall in Eastern Europe.
Jon Shakill: Jessy, thank you for your time and sharing your stories with us.
Jessy Greene: No problem at all, thank you!