Before signing with Universal/Republic Records in 2001, Green had already made a name for himself on the Texas club circuit through word of mouth, put out six independent albums four of them under his own label, Greenhorse Records and collaborated with future Dixie Chick Natalie Maines and her father, producer/guitarist Lloyd Maines.
On top of all that, the Texas native opened for, or shared the bill with genre greats Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Earl Keen and Willie Nelson.
"[Willie] is a very dear friend. We just got to know each other through the years," Green told POLLSTAR. "He's the guy who's looking out for guys like me. He's been doing that for a lot of people."
When his major label debut, Three Days, (including a duet with Nelson) was released last year, the singer/songwriter had already been touring solidly for six years, developed a loyal fan base and was very clear on the direction he wanted his career to take.
"I wanted to be able to have autonomy over the creative side of making a record. We had six records out before I ever signed, so I had time to develop myself," Green said. "We'd sold a lot of records on our own and were making plenty of money, so I didn't want to have to change [personally] to do that. When Republic came in and offered us everything we wanted, I was overjoyed. It was a perfect situation for me."
Green and his managers, Jimmy Perkins and Jay Adams, had known each other through the industry before becoming a team a few years ago. Perkins recalled being "really struck" by the newcomer's performance.
"I remember seeing him open a show for one of my other clients and he had a great self- awareness on stage," Perkins told POLLSTAR. "He was a very confident artist even though he was still virtually unknown then.
"He's not just some talented guy who got signed and grew up going from record company to record company. He's a great role model because he learned the music business. He did all of that on his own."
Green and band members Brendon Anthony, Brett Danaher, Jordan McBride, David Neuhauser and Justin Pollard play mostly upbeat songs that combine elements of traditional and contemporary country, but there's an edgy side to the music that, at times, reflects Green's more "dark and introspective" side.
"It takes time to go out and expose ourselves to people and let them hear us, and we're happy to do that on the road," he said. "We're not making a sound that fits into the whole country scene as it stands right now, or as it was five or 10 years ago. This is just what we do best, and it comes really naturally to us."
Songwriting also came naturally to Green during his quest to become a performer, which began about 12 years ago. While he respects the success of others who may not pen their own lyrics, for Green it's an outlet for whatever's on his mind.
"I tend to appreciate more the people who write their own songs, or at least have a hand in writing their songs, and play an instrument and sing kind of the whole package," he said.
And the fans are definitely responding as Green continues to pack venues big and small from 500-seat clubs to10,000-seat venues bringing the party with him at every stop. His current tour included three dates in California the first time Green has been to the state.
"Whenever we go to a new market, we're finding [a good fan response] with him," Perkins said. "It's a great thing because we still haven't had a radio hit we've had two singles in the Top 40, but that's ... lukewarm by country standards."
Green will be going back into the studio to record his next album in between scheduled tour dates through the end of the year and taping a segment for "Austin City Limits," and he's not concerned that detractors have ridiculed his "beer and good times" point of view in his songs.
"I'm a fairly happy guy. I'm certainly not the best at [songwriting], but you're not going to have to get some psychiatrist to figure out what I feel," he said. "I don't swim in the deep end of the pool very often."
One track on the Three Days album, "Who's To Say," answers Green's critics clearly "Who's to say and who are you to judge me anyway. This is my road. I take the corner as fast as I can go."