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Jamming at the 25° Est, and a Videograph from Garland Jeffreys

June 29, 2012

Garland Jeffreys

Garland Jeffreys

Two completely unexpected posts, but the second part is cooler than the first. First part is just to say that I took my guitar with me to celebrate the birthday of a friend of a friend since I decided I would go to the Cabaret Culture Rapide blues jam afterwards. I ended up playing guitar and singing for an hour or more at the birthday party, at the 25 Degre Est bar and restaurant, outside on the terrace with a cool breeze blowing. I played some of my songs, some cover songs, had an audience, felt great. But here is the more cool post:

Last month I was exchanging emails with someone from the entourage of a very cool American rock musician, Garland Jeffreys, about his then upcoming concerts in Europe. He was about to play in Belgium, and then he would play in Paris. I could not get to Belgium, and as it turned out, I could not even make it to his Paris concert, as I had to go on a reporting mission to Le Mans, in France, on the very day he was playing in Paris, at the Divan du Monde, on 2 June. I returned to Paris from Le Mans too late.

Judging by a revue I read about the concert, I missed something great. Now flash forward today, lunch, in Paris, near the Place de Clichy. I was having lunch with a man I had met at a sports conference in Turkey in April, another longtime Paris expat named Ciaran Quinn. It turns out Quinn likes this blog, and it also turns out that he comes from a very musical family and has music in the blood, but mostly as a spectator. He suddenly popped out that he had just seen the most amazing concert, that of Garland Jeffreys, in Paris on 2 June!

So we got to talking about Jeffries a little. The thing is, Jeffreys is one of those almost cult American musicians on the periphery who has had a very cool career, and was once even considered to be the next big, big, big poet musician to pick up the relay from Dylan – that was back in the 1970s. Jeffreys is also famous for having gone to university with Lou Reed, and befriending him before he even started the Velvet Underground. Jeffreys started out in all those places Dylan did – and where I also tested my chops, in failure – in Greenwich Village, like Gerde’s Folk City, The Bitter End, the Gaslight, Kenny’s Castaways, etc.

He played lead guitar on John Cale’s first solo album, Vintage Violence, of 1969. (That got me wondering if he ever crossed paths with my friend Frazier Mohawk, who just died, and who produced Nico’s album, The Marble Index, with Cale.) Jeffreys released his first solo album in 1973 at Atlantic Records. The album actually had Dr. John on it, and the Brecker Brothers – who later did sensational stuff with Joni Mitchell. (Oh, AND it had David Peel on it, whom I had met at Gerde’s Folk City in 1976 and thought was full of shit in his stories about being friends with John Lennon, until I saw his album “The Pope Smokes Dope,” and other things….) Jeffreys was also in a documentary film directed by Wim Wenders and produced by Martin Scorsese, in 2003.

So we’re talking a real monument here, and a great musician, singer and writer. And he has just recently come out with a new album, called The King of In Between. Oh, and dammit, had I made my way to Amsterdam on 28 May – when I think I was in Monaco – I would have seen him take the stage with Bruce Springsteen, at the latter’s concert.

Okay, so what is the purpose of all of this?!?! It is just about how things come around. So here I was today sitting there in this brasserie eating lunch with Ciaran Quinn, who is an expert in sports-related Internet promotion and other such web related things – he’s got a contract with the Olympics this year – and he tells me he saw this concert that I had wanted to go to. THEN: He tells me about this sensational idea he came up with to create what he calls – I think he called them this – a “videograph.” This is not an autograph, where a celebrity simply signs a paper and says a few words of hello and how are you… this is a thing where you hold your iPhone video camera up and ask the celebrity for a few words as an autograph – a videograph. In this case, the videograph was for Ciaran’s young son, who is a musician, and Ciaran asks Jeffreys to say why music is so important to him. Very, very cool. But also I thought it a wonderful loop in the story of how I had been corresponding with Jeffreys entourage, almost went to the concert… then had it all come back to me a month later, in the form of a videograph. Someone better make an app for these things – a videograph book!!! (Maybe they already have….)

Here is the videograph:

Thanks Ciaran….

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