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Garland Jefferys: Cult NYC Songwriter Is Somewhere Between Interesting and Dangerous

When Garland Jeffreys broke onto the New York music scene in the early 1970s, the same scene that spawned Patti Smith, Television, The Ramones and (via New Jersey) Bruce Springsteen, his songs were a little too close to the pressing realities of the times. Music was supposed to be an escape, not something to remind people of the struggles presently endured.

But Jeffreys then — and now — finds it his calling to address the politics of race and ignorance, struggles and hardship, but also the joy and goodness in the world through a compelling blend of rock and roll interspersed with reggae, blues, Latin, and soul.

Though he was already making music with his previous band, Grinder’s Switch, which served as John Cale’s back-up band in 1969 on the Vintage Violence album, Jeffreys’ debut as a solo artist was in 1973.

Ironically, his biggest hit came from a non-album single, “Wild in the Streets,” which chronicled both joyous and turbulent life in the Big Apple. Numerous edgy, dynamic songs followed, including “Spanish Town” in 1977, radio-staple “R.O.C.K.” in 1980, and “Don’t Call Me Buckwheat” — the song and album title inspired by someone at a Mets game yelling for Jeffreys to “sit down Buckwheat” — released in 1992.

Now, Jeffreys’ first album in 13 years, The King of In Between, continues with a new chapter of gritty streetwise songs packed with the intelligent lyrics that’s always given Jeffreys’ music its edge and determination.

Speaking to Up on the Sun from his New York home, Jeffreys discusses his new album, family, recent successes, and what might have prevented his musical star from shinning brighter.

Up on the Sun: On your recent album the first track, “Coney Island Winter,” visits the Coney Island of your past. Is this an allegory for the album as a whole, which really has the gritty feel of your earlier work?

Garland Jeffreys: It’s interesting. I had to make this new album and initially it was about what kind of record was I going to make. I could go several different ways with the record, you know. I started writing songs and writing songs and writing songs and it just became clear the way I feel, which is the current circumstances in the world, and not just the hurricane [Sandy], but the way people are struggling, I see it every day.

I’ve always been in this forgotten place where I’m compelled to see people. I see them out on the street, I talk to them. I’m connected to people in that way. I’m interested in their well-being. That’s “Coney Island Winter” opening up the album: It only reflects my past as a look back from a moment. It’s really about the present and the circumstances of people’s lives today. I want to paint that picture. When you go to Coney Island in the winter it’s not a pleasant time. It’s cold; it may have snowed or rained. The Coney Island of my childhood was different. My family used to go all the time; we lived not far from Coney. It’s a kid’s dream. There’s no other amusement park in the world to compete with Coney in its prime.

So I’m definitely into thinking these days about the way people are acting and living and what they go through, and this is a perfect time in that sense to have this conversation with what’s happened with this hurricane. So, “Coney Island Winter” is really a song about circumstances currently in people’s lives in the last few years.

It took me back to the early work; your first album also spoke of hardships. Do you find there are similar circumstances today as it was in the early 1970s with people needing to have their voices heard through your songs?

I think that’s so. When I started to make the album, I had written a lot of songs, but this particular song I liked very much. We recorded it on the last day of the sessions, the very last song. I remember [my wife] Claire saying, “You’ve got enough songs, let’s get this thing done.” And I remember saying, “I don’t have enough songs.” And I wrote two songs and recorded them the next day, “Love is not a Cliché” and “Coney Island Winter.” I’m very close to the “Coney Island Winter” song. It says everything I want to say right there. It’s a good way to get [the album] started. It’s a different approach vocally. I’m not singing as much as stating. The rest of the album you hear my vocals the way you would normally hear it. I’m very proud of the way the album came out.

And you were correct in recognizing that it reminded you of my style from the past because all the vocals for the most part were cut live with the tracks. I had a great team of five players (including Grammy-winning producer and guitarist Larry Campbell) and we laid them down song after song. I love working this way. It’s the way I did Ghost Writer. I prepare the band, and then lay it down in one, maybe two takes. That way you don’t lose any of the feeling you want to have. The band is right there with you. They may not know the song exactly perfectly, but you don’t want them too.

The King of In Between is your first album in 13 years. I know you usually take a long time between albums, but this is the longest span yet.

It is the longest stretch. I love music, I love performing, I’m enjoying performing more now than perhaps I ever have. But it’s not the only thing in my life. I’m married; I’ve been with my wife for over 30 years, which is probably more than most musicians can claim. I have a 16 year old daughter I’m concerned about and involved with. She’s had her father around during her childhood, which I think is very, very important. In a way I’m giving my daughter a lot of what I didn’t have. She’s benefited from it. She has my love, my fatherly caution and direction. Together with my wife we’ve raised her and are very happy with her, with her being, who she is. She’s also a talented musician and writes her own music.

It must be a great feeling. I see she’s credited on the album. Does she play on many of the songs?

She sings with Lou [Reed] on one of the songs. She sang on “The Contortionist.” But she’s a singer in her own right. I’m definitely thrilled with what she’s accomplished. I have a show coming up … she’s going to open for me. Then she will sing with my band.

You were at the center of the vibrant New York rock scene in the 1970s that spawned Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Television, etc., did stuff with Lou Reed (who plays on the new album), and yet while others achieved some semblance of commercial success, you never quite got over the top. Why do you think this was the case?

Lou and I have been friends since 1961. We’re probably friendly now then we’ve ever been. In terms of my own success and where I should have been, I guess it would have been nice if I was where my peers are, the guys you named. I can only say my talent is equal to theirs as far as I’m concerned. To feel bad about it, I don’t dwell on that at all. I know what I can do as a songwriter, as an album creator, as a performer. A lot of things happen some times and definitely race can be part of it. It’s not something I like to lean on by any means, but it’s a fact.

Do you think the is music a little too…

Interesting?

I was going to say dangerous. Yes, interesting is a good way to put it.

[Laughs]. I think so. But I did “Wild in the Streets.” How big of a rock and roll classic can you make? It’s as good as anybody’s record. It’s as good as anybody’s done this year. It’s all there… that energy. I would have loved to be recognized more for my talents and abilities, but I think the way the people are, especially then, maybe not so much now, they’re just not open-minded. They had very little intellectual experience. I think Lou should have been a bigger artist. I think sometimes people can’t handle it; they don’t know what to think. I don’t put a lot of faith in what journalists have to say, though journalists have been very kind to me over the years.

Well, I think you’ve carved out a respected niche. The journalists who look at your music for the body of work, and not just sales numbers, that’s where you’ve gotten the respect.

I think so. This album was received really well all over the world. Europeans were really raving about it. And it got good reviews in the U.S. I think that’s the first time that’s happened, both at the same time.

It’s great to hear that at this stage of your career.

Well, I have a great band I’m working with now. I’m really enjoying performing. I’m grateful I have my health, my energy and vitality keeping me going. … You’ll see me on stage in Scottsdale? Well, I won’t be snoring.

Garland Jeffreys is scheduled to perform Friday, December 7, at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale.

Article Written by: By Glenn BurnSilver

 

Concert review: Styx proves to Scottsdale audience that they’re more than ok

Spoiler alert. If you’re one of those individuals that believe Styx became its own tribute band once Dennis DeYoung stopped performing with the group, then read no further. You won’t like it when I say that his replacement, Lawrence Gowan, keyboard player and vocalist for Styx since 1999, is entertaining, energetic and is one heck of a singer. Nor may you want to hear that Styx is still a great live band as they proved Sunday night, November 18 at the Talking Stick Resort Ballroom in Scottsdale. Given the reaction of those in the standing room only crowd that night, it’s doubtful that they thought any different as Styx blasted through a ninety minute set of their greatest hits.

Styx had the audience in their hands from the outset. Whether the members of Styx fed off the energy of the audience or the audience fed off the energy of Styx, the opening number, “Blue Collar Man,” got things going quickly. With the frenzied crowd standing and dancing, guitarists Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young, played to both sides of the stage as well as engaged in some duel guitar choreography. Shaw’s lead vocals were strong and the harmonies were what you would expect to hear from Styx. Gowan and his spinning keyboard set, was animated.

Things kept going strong with “The Grand Illusion” and “Too Much Time on My Hands.” “Shall we have ourselves a rock show?” yelled out Shaw to the audience between numbers. With the crowd still on their feet, having clapped, danced and sang to each song, the answer was a resounding, “yes.” It’s not often that a Scottsdale classic rock audience will stand throughout a show. This night, for all but a couple numbers, the audience bucked that trend. Credit Styx for bringing them to and keeping them on their feet.

Although a good portion of the evening’s set list came from Styx’s 1977’s “Grand Illusion” and 1978’s “Pieces of Eight” albums, some of Styx’s earlier efforts were equally well received. Styx’s first big hit, the 1973 single, “Lady,” had one “lady” jump up from the audience onto the stage and exchange a brief dance moment with Gowan. Young’s vocals as well as the group’s harmonies were a highlight of “Lorelei.” Later in the evening, Shaw did honor to one of his first compositions for Styx, “Crystal Ball.”

After thirteen years with the group, it’s no surprise that Gowan shares the spotlight with Shaw and Young. He often leaves his rotating keyboard to deliver vocals, using the entire stage to spread his message. This evening, he was even more singled out as the band members paid homage to his upcoming birthday by delivering on to the stage a cake and leading the crowd in “Happy Birthday.”

Gowan made the crowd sing some more with his concert staple rock medley where Gowan bangs out the first few notes of a popular song and then has the audience complete the verse. Although the crowd did better on “Happy Birthday,” than they did for “Ruby Tuesday,” “Sweet Dreams,” or “Fat Bottomed Girls,” the effort was there and enthusiastic.

Less recognized, but equally important to Styx are ex Bad English bass player Ricky Phillips and drummer Todd Sucherman. Sucherman impressively pounded away all night. His energy is almost exhausting to watch. Phillips too was energetic, often climbing the stairs at the back of the stage and delivering solid harmonies.

Founding Styx member Chuck Panozzo joined the band for “Fooling Yourself,” and stuck around for “Come Sail Away,” and “Renegade.” Health reasons keep Panozzo from doing a full set with the band, but his attendance was welcome by the audience.

For the regular set closer, the crowd was well ready for “Come Sail Away.” Much like “South Park’s” Eric Cartman, those in attendance couldn’t help but finish the song themselves once it started and the members of Styx were happy to help. Shaw and Young blazed solos, Sucherman was manic behind his kit and everyone on stage and off looked to be having the time of their lives.

For the encore, Styx had confetti and streamers fall from the rafters as they did “Rockin’ the Paradise.” The night closed with “Renegade,” the audience once again participating with precision hand clapping for the song’s slow opening and then the required head bobbing for the climatic finish.

This was the third time Styx had played in Arizona in the last seven months. Yet both the audience and the members of Styx were as energetic as if this was Styx’s first visit in years. Given such enthusiasm on both parts, Styx is welcome to come back as many times as they like.

Set list: Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) | The Grand Illusion | Too Much Time on My Hands | Lady | Lorelei | Man In the Wilderness | I’m OK | Crystal Ball | Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man | Miss America | Lawrence Gowan Medley | Come Sail Away | Encore: Rockin’ the Paradise | Renegade

View slideshow: Styx in concert, November 18, 2012, Scottsdale, Arizona

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Fabulous Thunderbirds and Paul Gurvitz & The New Army Rocking the Crescent Ballroom

We had a wonderful time on Friday night at the Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix.  The Fabulous Thunderbirds along with Paul Gurvitz & The New Army gave an arena sized performance in a small club.  Thank you to all who attended and congratulations to our VIP winner Richard Jacobs.  Below check out some photos of that night.

12/2 Selena Gomez To Headline Phooson in Phoenix

Selena Gomez is headlining Phooson on Friday, Dec. 2, with Cody Simpson, Nicole Scherzinger, Gym Class Heroes, One Republic and Flo Rida.

The “Wizards of Waverly Place” star and her group, the Scene, are touring in support of “When the Sun Goes Down,” their third Top 10 release, which added two Top 40 singles to their resume – “Who Says” (their highest-charting single yet) and “Love You Like a Love Song” (one of this year’s most infectious hits).

Their previous hits were “Naturally,” “Round & Round” and “A Year Without Rain.”

Gomez, who turned 19 this summer, headlined last year’s Arizona State Fair. A review at azcentral.com said: “A confident performer with a winning personality, she worked the crowd like a cool older sister while making her way through the highlights of her own brief career as a pop star and no fewer than five covers.”

Phooson is presented by Johnjay & Rich of 104.7 KISS FM in Phoenix and 93.7 KRQ in Tucson, at US Airways Center.

Tickets are $20, $35.75, $50.75 and $70.75.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at livenation.com, all Ticketmaster locations, the US Airways Center box office or, by phone, at 800-745-3000.

The show is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. and more acts will be announced. One dollar from every ticket purchased will be donated to the Johnjay & Rich Christmas Wish program, which assists and serves children in need.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/thingstodo/music/articles/2011/10/14/20111014selena-gomez-phooson-phoenix-cody-simpson-scherzinger-one-republic-flo-rida.html#ixzz1bRwaC9jL

The Foundry on First Grand Opening with Cowboy Mouth

MEDIA ALERT | July 1, 2011

Contact:  Maria Brunner / Insight Management / 480.951.1882 / Insightmgt@aol.com

THE FOUNDRY ON FIRST TO CELEBRATE

GRAND OPENING IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX

WITH NEW ORLEANS-BASED ROCKERS

COWBOY MOUTH JULY 9 & 10

New Music Venue To Offer Vibrant Live Music Experience

Featuring All Different Types of Premier National and Local Acts & DJs

PHOENIX – The Foundry On First – a new music venue offering a supreme live music experience located in the heart of downtown Phoenix on 402 South 1st St. (and Jackson) – will open its doors for the first time with a bang during a grand opening celebration with New Orleans-based rockers Cowboy Mouth on Saturday, July 9 & Sunday, July 10.  Doors open at 7 p.m., with live music starting at 8 p.m nightly.  Tickets are $17.00 (plus ticket convenience fees) and may be purchased in advance at www.dannyzeliskopresents.com or at the door.

The grand opening performances at The Foundry On First will entertain locals as well as those who are in town for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game festivities taking place July 11 (Home Run Derby) and July 12 (All-Star Game) at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.

Local promoter Danny Zelisko is booking the venue, which is located near Alice Cooper’stown just south of the US Airways Center.  Booking will be done by Zelisko’s new venture, Danny Zelisko Presents.  The Foundry will hold 1,500 people at maximum capacity, making the venue a welcome mid-sized addition to the valley’s music scene.

“I’m very excited to be in the position to bring in great national and local talent to what is going to become the best local music venue in town,” Zelisko said.

The historic warehouse building serves as a cool backdrop for the ultimate music-friendly atmosphere.  Coupled with state-of-the-art sound and lighting, fantastic sight-lines across the room, and many easily accessible refreshment service stops, The Foundry on First will be a music lovers haven.

The Foundry on First has already booked all different types of national acts and local acts from across the musical spectrum well into October, including the following live performances:  a show featuring Arizona’s best bands The Love Me Nots, Jed’s A Millionaire, & The Persauders on July 15; Cody Canada (from Cross Canadian Ragweed) & The Departed on July 22; Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers on July 30; The Tubes on August 13 and many more (see full schedule below).

Hear more about these and other great musicians on the Danny Zelisko Presents Radio Program, heard every Sunday night at 10 p.m. on 93.3 KDKB-FM.

This video tells the story in a really fun way: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97tUAANLNqM

For more information: http://dannyzeliskopresents.com.