2011-04-26 Rob Walsh Blog

Hard Rockin’ Garland JeffreysGarland-Jeffreys-Ticket-Stub-Highline-Ballroom-NYC-April-30-2011

Highline Ballroom, New York City, April 30, 2011

by Rob Walsh, April 26, 2011 (http://realrobd.blogspot.com/2011/04/hard-rockin-garland-jeffreys.html)

I was waiting for something like this.

In case you hadn’t noticed, times are tough out there.  There is a burgeoning underclass of working poor, barely being able to make minimum payments.  In a sane world, or even a broken republic, nothing would be more American than for the so-called downtrodden to develop a cry in the tradition of American folk movements, as in the past.

Of course, with this kind of picture, one might expect Guthrie/Seeger/Dylan-esque lamentations rolling out of the great Northwest in a flannel shirt and an extra set of banjo strings.  Myself, I wouldn’t have imagined a legit, folk-like expression of this type to come rattling down the NYC Subway tracks, closing in on Manhattan, like a freight train, rather than the R train.

But this is Garland Jeffreys.  And this is his latest single release, “Coney Island Winter”.

The song starts out with a nice, stripped down combo setting up a thin, dry thread of hypnosis, while Garland dreamily sets up his poetics to lament a life “too close to the edge of the street”.  For me, the lyrics sting with a picture of a middle class descending to working poor.  Or even further towards the streets.

The back line eventually gets sucked into the angst and starts churning.  The synergy develops and before you know it, you’ve got a two chord anthem coming at you like a freight train.  The simple, yet rising momentum keeps you excited yet lets you focus on the interplay of the lyrics with the pulse.

Seems like every time I listen to Garland Jeffreys, I notice the excellent musicians that he works with.  This track is no exception.  Everyone on the recording seems to get each other’s juices going.  This tune is a 70 mph steamroller; just short of frenetic – and that’s class!.  The expertise and sensitivity of this ensemble is evident.

With “Coney Island Winter” Jeffreys is telling our story.   And that, cousins, is folk music.  Nobody said you couldn’t deliver it with a sledgehammer.

Jeffreys has been an important part of the New York City music scene, as well as nationwide top 40 airplay/touring act, for well over 40 years.  For almost as long as I can remember, he’s been the real thing in singer/songwriter/AOR Rock & Roll.  For a New Yorker, a local hero on a world stage.

Garland has street cred.  In New York, particularly.  I know that dirty, dangerous New York of the 70’s that he came up through.  Not pretty at all.  He has my respect for that.

His rep got started with that early 70’s AOR hit, “Wild In The Streets”.  He got some good mileage out of that one.  Then basically, he was putting out an album per year from 1977 thru the early 90’s.  He’s been surfing the top 40 markets throughout several periods of American Rock.  Every time he records, he gets respectable airplay.

Jeffreys is diverse and true to several genres.  He is best known for his middle class suburban NYC native Rock & Roll.  He branches out into some pretty good interpretations of a diverse collection of styles.   One that comes to mind is the  seven inch “roots reggae” single, “Miami Beach” packaged with his  1980 Escape Artist album.

This dude is the real thing.  He’s back.  And he has local gigs coming up in the greater NY metro area this month.  Check it out, and I’ll see you there!

Comments are closed.