Jazz Festival Reviews – Steve Miller Band / Garland Jeffries

Garland Jeffries ain’t dead yet …

Far from it.

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Friday night at Place des Arts, the seventy-one year old singer and songwriter displayed his youthful character, in song and spirit. Once a rebel – always a rebel.

‘I promised my wife and daughter to stay calm …’

Words from the Brooklyn-born Jeffries seconds after jumping off stage, wandering the first three aisles and jumping ( rolling ) back up again ( he repeated this feat twice during his almost hour long set).

It has been forty-seven years since Jeffries’ made turntables shake with his most popular release ‘Ghost Writer’. Apparently it has been the same length of time since several punters in the crowd have heard his most loved tune ‘Spanish Town’ from the same album. Catcalls echoed Salle Wilfred Pelletier for one of the 70’s most beloved anthems to be played and following a ‘ I’d have to shoot myself if I don’t play it ‘ retort – Jeffries delivered a heart wrenching version of a heart wrenching song.

 ’35 Millimeter Dreams’, from the same album, another classic – cemented Garland’s status as a 2015 performer – not as a ‘classic rocker’. Jeffries’ band and his very own acute vocals – to the point and vast in musical depth. ‘Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me’ and ‘Coney Island Winter’ placed the show in categories. Past, recent past and present. A trio of tenses tense with musical ambiguity with a wink and a nod to the future.

Judging by the sounds of it – Garland Jeffries Band?

Just born ….?

Far from it …

Steve Miller Band

The Steve Miller Band is one of ‘those bands …’

In the early 1970’s – Mcartney’s Wings were taking flight and Rock n Roll was taking a different path. Gone were the Pop -ish sounds of the 1960’s. Replaced ( for the most part) by guitar -driven songs which would eventually lead into Punk and Disco.

Steve Miller blended catchy Pop with those guitar sounds and all these years later – those tunes stand the test of time

 As the band cycled the hits of yesteryear – it was difficult to not wonder what happened to music. Steve Miller’s voice, at the age of seventy-one, exactly the same in 2015 as 1973. Spooky. Steve Miller’s songs? As relevant in 2015 as 1973.

Spooky …

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‘Space Cowboy’, ‘Take the Money and Run’, ‘Rock n Me’, ‘Jet Airliner’ – if you were a teenager in the decade of Grease, you know the list. If you are an adult in 2015 – you know the list.

Miller himself – one of the most underrated songwriters and guitarists in the history of popular music. These qualities shone throughout the evening at Place des Arts notably on songs such as  ‘Space Cowboy’ and ‘Abracadabra’. Following Miller’s transcendence of the melodic structure with artful fingers during these songs – perhaps Miller is one of those guys whose ‘hits’ are just the tip of his musical iceberg. To be in his living room – a possible guitarist heaven.

Miller ( like most successful musicians) was schooled in the Blues and Steve took Friday’s opportunity to showcase some vintage Blues’ tunes.

‘Blues With a Feeling’ – the Little Walter classic, done by the Steve Miller Band with feeling. Real Blues guys cannot fake the Blues and the Miller band discarded any ‘masks’ performing T-Bone Walker’s ‘Bone Shuffle’. A pleasure to understand the roots of ‘The Joker’.

One standout, amid a ‘space’ backdrop, both musically and visually appealing was ‘Fly Like An Eagle’. Miller’s most recognizable and poignant 70’s sounding tune, perfect for the moment. A reflection of that Frank Marino / Pat Travers – sounding era.  Dragonfly / Crash and Burn / Fly Like an Eagle. A trio of mellowness combined with hallucinatory trips into funk and rock. The Miller Band teased all the old LSD lovers with a drop of nostalgia.

In jean jacket terms …

It was cool.


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Jarrett Lobley Project
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