Singer Garland Jeffreys’ tips for aspiring musicians

Dec28 Garland Jeffreys

Stuyvesant Town rock singer Garland Jeffreys (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, October 22, Stuyvesant Town rock singer Garland Jeffreys will be performing a concert at a fundraiser for the 14th Street Y, where he, his wife Claire and daughter Savannah are longtime members.

It will be the first of a few local concerts coming up for the singer, following a recent tour through Europe to promote his last album, “14 Steps to Harlem.”
Now in the early writing stages for his next album, to be called, “Dash of Soul,” and fundraising for a documentary about his career, Jeffreys, 75, spoke with Town & Village to share tips for new and aspiring musicians.

“I’m always happy to talk to people who are starting out,” he said, adding that starting out means picking a musical direction to take.

“What kinds of songs do they want to write? Love songs, protest songs or a Dylan-esque area?” he asked. “They should work and work and work on the music and not take it for granted. I tell stories about different things, like race, like my childhood, my passions.”
In recent years, Jeffreys has been known to do many concerts in people’s homes, which he recommends doing as well as finding local venues like bars.

“If you’re starting out, anywhere is a good place to start,” said Jeffreys. “Just get your guitar and get your keyboard and get to practicing and that’s how your songwriting evolves.”

It also helps to perform as a duo or with a band. “Collaborate with another player; if you have a partner, you’re not alone,” said Jeffreys, who often performs with a band. His daughter, a recent graduate of Wesleyan University, also frequently opens for him.

Jeffreys, who’s shared stages with Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen, has been performing and recording for decades and has produced albums under labels such as RCA, Epic and A&M. But since 2011, he’s been producing his albums himself, using the crowd-sourcing website PledgeMusic. That’s also how he’s raising money for the documentary, “Who is Garland Jeffreys?”, directed by Claire, which has already met 183 percent of its goal.
Crowd-sourcing is currently a popular way for musicians to raise money for recording, but, warned Jeffreys, “You have to have demand.”

However, that can happen, and that’s where the house concerts come in, Jeffreys said, either at the musician’s own home or a friend’s home.

“People will see you and get to know you,” he said. “They get to know your music and they’re right in front of you. Sometimes I do them in a full house and you can hardly stand, but I don’t care where I play, quite frankly.”

“Wild on 14th Street,” Jeffreys’ fundraising concert for the Y will take place on October 22 at 6:30 p.m. with Jeffreys’ full band and Savannah opening. The 14th Street Y is located at 344 East 14th Street. Meet and greet is 6:30 p.m., concert at 8 p.m. Tickets are $75. To purchase, visit

Other upcoming concerts are:
On November 2 at Rubin Museum as part of the NYC “Naked Soul” series with an acoustic trio.
December 28, South Orange Performing Arts Center, South Orange, NJ, with a trio.
December 31, Joe’s Pub’s annual New Year’s Eve early show with the full band and Savannah opening.

In other recent news, Jeffreys’ hit song “Wild in the Streets” was featured in two episodes of the series “13 Reasons Why,” while another song, “Don’t Call Me Buckwheat” aired on “Basketball: A Love Story,” on the episode that aired on October 9 on ESPN. “A Touch of Soul” is expected to be released in 2019.

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