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Pissed Off About Climate Change? ‘Green’ Is a Jazzy Rallying Cry

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Guitarist and bassist Kevin Goldberg, singer Jackie Gage and accordionist Manny Junaedy teamed up for 'Green,' a tango-inspired track to channel their frustration with the state of our planet.  (Kevin Goldberg and Manny Junaedy)

Welcome to Pass the Aux, where KQED Arts & Culture brings you our favorite new tracks by Bay Area artists.

When jazz musicians Jackie Gage and Kevin Goldberg wrote “Green,” they weren’t sure they would release it. But whenever they played the track live, they found their fans singing along by the end, even though they’d never heard it before. Maybe listeners were captivated by the steady strum of Goldberg’s tango-style guitar, or the intriguing way Gage sings “Tell me what you mean by green,” as if challenging the listener.

Or maybe their audiences were just as pissed off about climate change and corporate greed as Gage and Goldberg were.

“It felt like there was a community where I didn’t feel like we were alone in this anger,” says Gage. “[I realized] like, ‘OK, music is powerful, and this is another way that people can kind of discover the power they have in themselves, too.’”

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Gage, an internationally touring singer, began writing the lyrics for “Green” earlier this year after witnessing the devastation of yet another California wildfire season, flooding in her family’s home state of Louisiana and a deadly hurricane in Florida. Meanwhile, as Americans continue to struggle with high gas prices, oil companies posted record profits in the most recent quarter.

“It doesn’t make sense. It feels very predatory,” Gage says.

A sense of sadness drifted in after the indignation. “I think that I’ve experienced, at least in these last few years, a huge amount of grief,” says Goldberg. “Now our kids might not get the chance to experience this amazing redwood forest that we have in California because, you know, who knows what the future of the climate holds these next five, ten years?”

In the new music video for “Green,” out today, Gage, Goldberg and accordion player Imanuel Junaedy perform in Bay Area landmarks, contrasting oases of nature with the impacts of industrialization. Shots of the stunning Pacific coast cut to the trio playing in polluted areas like the former Mare Island military base and West Oakland underpasses.

With the election approaching on Nov. 8, Gage and Goldberg decided it was the perfect time to put climate on people’s minds.

“I think for me it just feels it feels like an opportunity to make a little bit of a difference,” says Goldberg. “I think a lot of times it’s really easy to get to a feeling of powerlessness around climate change and around these forces that are spinning so wildly out of control.”

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