On a lovely Sunday afternoon when one would think people wanted to be anywhere other than indoors, Garland Jeffreys regaled a sold-out (or at least nearly sold-out) crowd at Club Passim. Clearly this audience preferred seeing a rock/soul/blues/reggae star and Garland rewarded us with a fine show.
This was my first time seeing Garland perform, and frankly I knew him only from his hit "Wild in the Streets." He sang this song as either the last song in the set or during the encore, and he sounded just as good as he did when it was recorded in the 1970s.
Garland is a month shy of 72 years old, but you would not know that from his energetic performance. He knows how to entertain, and peppered his songs with stories of his life as well as social commentary mostly relating to civil rights. I found him fascinating, and left the show thinking he needs to write an autobiography. I feel he has much to say about growing up with a mixed-race heritage during the turbulent 1950s and 1960s.
His excellent band consisted of Brian Stanley on bass, Tom "Italian Stallion" Curiano on drums, Charly Roth on keys, and JJ Jordan on guitar. All except JJ provided backing vocals. I especially enjoyed watching Charly on keys; he is quite an expressive player, and I was sitting in the perfect spot to enjoy him.
They performed "35 Millimeter Dreams" which I had never heard. This song could be an anthem for anyone hoping to make it big in Hollywood.
I loved the way Garland introduced one song that he wrote for/about his wife - he told us he has been married for, as I recall, 35 years to "the most perfect woman." To me, that showed the respect he has for women in general and his wife in particular.
The encore included his version of "96 Tears," a song by ? and the Mysterians that I remember well from my pre-teen years. What a fabulous version this was! It brought me right back to summer camp when we listened to it and danced around our cabin. For the last song, Garland leaped (as much as one can leap into a crowded room from a stage only a couple of feet high) in the room to sing. Many remained standing and dancing.
As I left the venue, I got a wonderful albeit slightly sweaty hug from Garland. What a way to end a fine afternoon of excellent music!