He's been called an edgy urban poet, the sound of New York, a confessional singer-songwriter, and an explorer of the links between rock, race and rebellion whose work should be taught in schools. With songs covered by artists as diverse as punk pioneers The Circle Jerks ("Wild in the Streets") and the neo-folk band Vetiver ("Lon Chaney"), Garland Jeffreys is truly unclassifiable.
Jeffreys began performing in Greenwich Village and released his self-titled solo album in 1973. His breakout song “Wild in the Streets” was on 1977’s Ghost Writer, and Robert Christgau weighed in with “the racial paradox is dramatized audaciously, the dreams of showbiz glory rendered with an uncommon knowing subtlety, the reggae natural-born, the voice fuller and more passionate...” and led to Jeffreys being named best new artist of the year by Rolling Stone.
Long known for his amazing roster of supporting musicians, with names such as Dr. John, Sonny Rollins, James Taylor, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Phoebe Snow, and Sly and Robbie, Jeffreys enjoyed great success in Europe with “Matador” becoming a smash hit in 1981, charting top five in five countries. Europe has always been a second home, and critics have awarded him both the prestigious German Schallplattenenkritik Prize and the Italian Premio Tenco, an honor shared by Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello and many more.
More than a dozen years had passed without an American album from Jeffreys when he came roaring back into the spotlight with 2011's The King of In Between. Hailed by NPR as “as good a classic roots rock record as you’re going to hear from anybody," the record—which featured an appearance by old pal Lou Reed—earned raves from The New Yorker to USA Today and led to a performance on Letterman, as well as appearances onstage with everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Levon Helm. The experience fueled a creative revitalization for the rocker, whose ebullient, late-stage creative energy colors every note of his latest record, Truth Serum (2013). Nominated for an Independent Music Award in Best Rock Album and sung with the most relaxed, assured delivery of his career, the lyrics express a seasoned, hard-won acceptance balanced with an unflagging sense of optimism, while the music merges blues, rock, reggae, and folk into an infectious concoction distinctly his own.
Recently inducted into the NY Blues Hall of Fame and hitting festivals around the world including Fuji Rock, Montreal Blues, Montreux Jazz and Byron Bay Blues, Jeffreys is out on “The Rest of My Life Tour” and has no intention of slowing down.