Category Archives: Garland Jeffreys

Garland Jeffreys at the World Cafe Live Upstairs, 6/8/2017

Another night, another great show. Since March, when we saw the Staves, Diane and I have witnessed a string of magical concerts by favorites old and new. Some nights we’ve been the oldest folks in the room; others we’ve mingled with our middle-aged peers; and, at least once, I looked around and realized we were likely the youngest in attendance.

This night, Thursday June 8th, found us sitting with fellow travelers/longtime fans of Garland Jeffreys at the World Cafe Live Upstairs in West Philly; aka, a middle-aged crowd or, more to the point, our peers. It’s the smaller of the venue’s two rooms, and intimate as intimate gets. This was our view of the stage:

That’s the DuPont Brothers, a Vermont-based duo, who opened. Their songs and harmonies conjure the likes of Jackson Browne and CSN, among others; I look forward to exploring their music in the weeks and months ahead, and hope to see them again.

Then, it was time for the headliner: Garland took to the stage to the propulsive beat of “Coney Island Winter,” one of many highlights from his 2011 album The King of In Between

It was the perfect start to a rockin’ hour-and-change set that mixed latter-day songs, including a wealth of tracks from his sterling 14 Steps to Harlem album, with such past classics as “Ghost Writer,” “35 Millimeter Dreams,” “96 Tears” and “R.O.C.K.”

Somewhere in there, I found myself drifting back to a show in New York in maybe 2002 or ‘03 at the Village Underground, Joe’s Pub or…? Whenever, wherever, Diane and I had made the long trek up the railways to see the Brooklyn-born bard on his home turf, and – as has been the case with each of the dozen times (give or take) we’ve seen him since – he more than exceeded expectations. That night, he rocked the packed house and then, afterwards, greeted fans and friends alike.

Understand that, at that point, he and Diane had bonded through an in-depth interview she’d done with him for the original Old Grey Cat website (which, now that I’ve located it, I plan to resurrect here in the near-future). So when he saw Diane, as one might expect, he hugged her.

He also – totally unexpected – hugged me.

Now, I can count on one hand the number of men I’ve hugged. I’m of my father’s stock, in that regard; a handshake more than suffices. (I hasten to add, it’s a gender-equal disposition – other than my wife, mother and one or two others, a hug and/or kiss from a woman seems a tad touchy-feely to me. Juliana could well have written “Got No Idols” about me, in other words.)

Anyway, now 73, Garland’s still going strong, still writing songs that resonate with the soul – such as “Time and Again,” which he didn’t sing this night (but should have – even without his daughter’s beautiful voice, it would be powerful), or the title song to 14 Steps, which he linked with “Harlem Bound” from his 1973 solo debut.

And this night, as with that long-ago night, he hung out post-show to meet and greet his fans and friends. For my part, I attempted to circumvent the expected hug by asking for a photo instead – the first time for that.

It kinda-sorta worked.

 

Garland Jeffreys: 14 Steps to Harlem – The Review

Since the dawn of what I’ve decided to dub the fast-track century, aka the 21st, there have been a few constants in my life. Family? Of course. Feline? Check. Music? Well, duh! I listen as much now as ever – new artists and old favorites forever intermingle on the ever-evolving soundtrack of my life. Some new artists become old favorites in short order. And old favorites, though they may fade to the background for a spell, always resurface.

There’s just not enough time – not for music, and not for life. It “goes away as quick as a wink. Quicker than you think.” Those lines come from “Time Goes Away,” a meditative gem on this, Garland Jeffreys’ latest long-player. (If it was on YouTube, I’d embed it here.) It’s a beautiful, plaintive tune buttressed by the addition of Garland’s 20-year-old daughter Savannah, who echoes her father’s simple yet profound words: “Time goes away/Till you don’t have many/Till you don’t have any.” (That young voice deserves an album of her own. Just sayin’.) It’s a topic Diane and I discuss often these days, actually: yesteryear often seems like yesterday to us. And our tomorrows…we both know there’s less of them to come.

As a whole, 14 Steps to Harlem finds Garland looking back, surveying the present and contemplating the future – and doing it all to melodies that linger long after the music has ceased. This morning, for instance, I woke with the title track in my head:

Other highlights include “When You Call My Name”…

…and “Venus.”

His cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man,” written by his old friend Lou Reed, is great to have on album. (It’s been a concert staple of his for the past good while.)

And “Luna Park Love Theme,” which features Lou’s wife Laurie Anderson on electric violin, is the perfect cap to a great outing. Unfortunately, it’s not on YouTube so, instead, here’s a clip of another high point: Garland’s slowed-down spin on the Beatles’ “Help.”

(Here’s the AP’s review; and an excellent USA Today article on the album.)

Of Concerts Past: Garland Jeffreys at the Tin Angel, Dec. 14, 2001

img_0459And so it’s finally come to pass: the Tin Angel closed its door on Feb. 4th, a fate expected since the announcement of the building’s sale last fall. The plan, according to owner Donal McCory and booker Larry Goldfarb, is to re-open at a different (and larger) location by the end of the year.

Diane and I saw many shows at the intimate 115-seat venue through the years, from the early 1990s to last year. One memorable concert: Maria McKee in 1998. Another: Garland Jeffreys in 2001.

The Brooklyn-bred singer, songwriter and reggae-infused rock artiste has been making music since the 1960s, but most folks likely remember him from his remarkable run in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, when he released a string of excellent albums, including Ghost Writer and Escape Artist, and was frequently heard (in Philly, at least) on AOR radio with such songs as “Wild in the Streets,” “Cool Down Boy,” “35 Millimeter Dreams,” “Matador” and his cover of “96 Tears.”

This Wikipedia entry goes in-depth into his career. If you read through it, you’ll know that he took a break from music for much (though not all) of the ‘90s; and then re-entered the music arena during the summer of 2001.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another salient point: Diane turned me from a radio fan to an actual fan. It was she who discovered he was playing this specific show, in fact, and convinced quite a few of our friends to attend it, too.

garlandtinangelAnyway, my memory of this show, which saw Garland accompanied only by longtime guitarist Alan Freedman, was that it was hypnotic. I don’t recall many of the specific songs performed, unfortunately, though I imagine they included the ones featured above. What blew my mind: an extended excerpt from a psychodrama-like musical play he was writing at the time, Spook House. The protagonist was named Bolden; and the extended scene, if I remember it correctly, involved Bolden and his departed mother. It was powerful, dramatic and spine-tingling.

I also remember this: a sterling rendition of “New York Skyline” closing the show. That was but a few months after 9/11, of course, and I’m sure my – and everyone’s – reaction to it was colored by the emotions of the time. It was jaw-droppingly beautiful.

In the years since, we’ve seen Garland more times than we can count. He’s released two excellent albums – The King of In Between (2011) and Truth Serum (2013) – and has now embarked on making a PledgeMusic-backed documentary and album.