[20 May 2011]
Garland Jeffreys has rock in his roots and grit on his shoes. He consistently put out albums for over a decade from his eponymous first solo album, 1973’s Garland Jeffreys, to 1983’s Guts for Love in an era when rock was more straight-forward (and the chorus was the title of the song). Since Guts, Jeffreys only released three albums - in eighteen years! But to roll out the release of his new album The King of In Between, Jeffreys lined up a number of dates to hit his hometown of New York hard, calling out his followers to join him on a rollercoaster trip into the past.
His April 30th show at the Highline Ballroom was one of the many stops. The venue had a dining arrangement on the floor (which was new to me) but the fans filled the space and waited patiently as some technical issues delayed the show for a little while. Finally, the humble Jeffrey’s ventured out onto the stage, clad in black save for a white hat.
For the older crowd, he played a lot of his classics, starting the new “Coney Island Winter” then going into the reggae infused “I may not be your Kind” then proceeded onto the rawer sound of “35 Millimeter Dreams”. The effortless way in which his band, The Coney Island Playboys, switched genres showed how their seasoning and their comfort with Jeffrey’s multi-disciplinary rock elements despite it only being “their third show together”.
To his credit, Jeffrey’s newer songs sound great next to the old ones, demonstrating the timelessness of the music of his heyday. The newer “Love is not a Cliché”, dedicated to his sister, who he had only reconnected with after many long years and the “Rock and Roll Music”, with an old timey Chuck Barry vibe, abutted Jeffrey’s earliest hit, “Wild in the Streets”. “Streets” riled up enough people there was some dancing going on next to the dining.
For a brief interlude, Jeffrey’s let his band take a break and welcomed his friend, Alan Friedman out for an acoustic guitar duet, strumming out a Spanish style song. I had to dive out early unfortunately but I was able to catch two more songs with the band, “All Around the World” and the upbeat “Modern Lovers” which also included a couple of female backup singers. But I still came to realize, though Jeffrey and his fans may be older and wiser, Jeffrey is still a rocker and the fans still want to savor his brand of genuine rock and roll.