L.A. Law’s Michele Greene Releases Her Second Spanish-language CD

Michele Greene is probably best known from her five years on the seminal television series L.A. Law, but with the upcoming release of her second Spanish-language CD Luna Roja (“Red Moon”), she talked to us about her Irish background and the role it plays in her music:

“My paternal grandparents Tennessee Cochrane and Thomas Greene were of Irish descent and they rode into Oklahoma in a covered wagon – and this was back when it was still Indian Territory.”

Greene hasn’t visited Ireland yet, although her brother has done a lot of research on the Cochrane family tree:

“My father died when I was two, so it’s a whole part of my life that I was never really been exposed to. I do have some old photos of my grandparents though, and when I was hiking across Europe about 20 years ago I met up with some Irish guys in Mykanos, Greece, who swore to me that Cochrane was a common name in Derry and Co Down and Greene in Co Antrim and Tipperary. I wish I knew more.”

Greene grew up in a bi-lingual household and was surrounded by the classic boleros and rancheras of Mexican music as well as the folk/country tunes of her father. Her mother had her roots in Nicaragua and Chihuahua, Mexico, and it was actually Michele’s great aunt Beatriz Dominguez who had the first brush with Hollywood, dancing with Rudolph Valentino in movie The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

“I was only 23 when the L.A Law was on and I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time, but people still mention it to me today, which is very sweet. Today though, acting is really at the bottom of the list for me. It can be great, but the business end is so vile and really takes its toll on you after a while. Ideally you want to work with a good script, good actors and a good director, but that’s not always there. It’s like having a drummer that can’t keep up with the beat”.

Greene is about to leave for a short tour of the East Coast promoting Luna Roja, and hopes that the concerts will reflect the intimate atmosphere of the CD:

“Writing music is about the song, and a great song can be done with full orchestration, or one guy with a guitar.”

Dates in Texas, Arizona and California are planned for later in the year, although many people in the audiences may not know that the CD had a rocky road to release:

“I loved my old record label, but they didn’t have any Spanish-language artistes and I really wasn’t sure that they could market it in the right areas. I produced the music so I owned the rights, but I don’t think they ever thought I would say “no” to them. In the end I had to pull out and put it out on my own label, hard as it might be, because I believe in these songs. If you have something you want to say in a certain way, you have to be honest with yourself.”

Requinto Records is the name of her label – “it’s the name of a smaller-sized guitar used in mariachi, and it was the first guitar I ever had” – and the socio-political songs on this CD include Green covering Bruce Springsteen’s Across The Border as an acknowledgement to the ever-present issue of immigration:

“We are a country of immigrants. Even here you just have to look at some of the street names; La Cienega, La Brea, Cahuenga, to say nothing of the origins of the names Los Angeles and San Diego. Mexican land owners started this city, but now the lines are starting to get very blurred across the country, especially with the chance of a left-leaning politician hopefully likely to be elected President of Mexico.”

A typical day now includes several hours working on the record label, and it starts very early when her dogs wake her:

“I try to write for three or four hours a day, and sometimes there’s an audition to go to – as well as the music stuff. This CD was a sort of universal trial for me, but it’s been a real education and really energizing too. I really enjoy it”.

As for taking in the bright lights, Greene – who went to Fairfax High School in Hollywood, and admits to “knowing her way around”, tries to limit herself to one or two nights out a week:

“I’ve recently discovered a new place called Citizen Smith 1600 N Cahuenga Blvd. It’s somewhere I’d never normally go, but they’re great for a few drinks. The W in Westwood is the same, and I sometimes I like to sit by the pool and have drinks at the Avalon Hotel on W Olympic Blvd in Beverly Hills.”

As for eating, she has several favorites, but is naturally a big fan of Mexican food:

“I like to go little mom-and-pop places when I can, but there’s also Little Door on W 3rd Street and several places on Olvera Street in Downtown. There’s even a plain old taco stand, Delta Tacos in Silverlake – delicious! As for music, I like to see bands at the Tangier on Hillhurst Avenue.”

HarperCollins has just published Greene’s first book, Chasing The Jaguar, in stores now and selling briskly. It’s the first in a mystery series featuring teenaged sleuth Martika Galvez and set in Los Angeles:

“I think I must have a kind of storytelling gene, because sometimes I see stories anywhere, and an artist should expand into as many areas as they can. If I was just an actress, I don’t know what I’d do with all these stories.”

As for the future, she plans to direct her own short film, Beethoven’s 7-11, this year and will be appearing in the indie film The Legend of Lucy Keyes and returning in her recurring role on the CBS David Mamet series The Unit, although she confesses that she’d like things to be different:

“In an ideal world the book would be wildly successful and I could just go on tour with my music, then go to maybe Chicago, New York, Boston, London or even Dublin once a year to do a play. Either way, I consider myself lucky to have been called to do what I do, because I’m not good at anything else. Except maybe making chicken tacos – hard shell.”

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