If time travel doesn't exist — how do you explain the potent '60s nostalgia found in rock-n-roller Garland Jeffreys' latest album, "The King of In Between?"
For anyone pining for a blast to the past, yet you're not willing to cough up a lot of coin for the experience, you've got a few options: check out Jeffreys' show at World Café Live at the Queen in Wilmington on Jan. 4; and/or get your paws on any of his albums, particularly his newest one; or you can somehow find a way to become best buds with Michael J. Fox. The latter might prove a bit difficult, though.
'I love all kinds of music'
Of course, physical time travel may not have been discovered yet, but it doesn't change that Jeffreys' songs on his 2011 project, "The King of In Between," still moves you emotionally. The record, his first in 14 years, includes a collection of grooves in the vein of '60s Philadelphia funk/soul ("Streetwise") and late'80s/early '90s rock ("Coney Island Winter").
His polygamous relationship with various genres is a reflection of the album's title.
"I love all kinds of music," said Jeffreys, a sprightly 69-year-old native from Brooklyn, N.Y., who now lives in Manhattan with his wife/manager, Claire, and 16-year-old daughter, Savannah.
Jeffreys, who has been recording albums for more than 40 years, blames his eclectic musical tastes on his family, who fed him hearty tunes whilst a lad.
"My parents loved Duke Ellington," he recalled. "My uncle turned me on to Ray Charles and Miles Davis. My grandmother was around then and loved Nat King Cole. I thought he had a great voice."
Sweet Frankie was also a part of Jeffreys' diet.
"Frankie Lymon was the first Michael Jackson," he said. "I just loved him growing up. He was a big influence on me."
On "The King of In Between," Jeffreys targets universal topics such as the temptation to bend and become someone you're not just to fit in with the crowd ("Contortionist"). He also addressed the hardships many families are facing during these harsh economic times ("Coney Island Winter").
Considering he spent a good deal of time at Coney Island during his earlier years, the picture he paints about Coney in the namesake song isn't the warm, colorful one that tourists see in summer.
"When you think of Coney Island, you think frankfurters and fries," he said. "But in Coney Island during the winter, people are rushing from the trains to get into their houses. I used that as a metaphor — these are freezing cold times."
A loving 'King'
Not just a voice of the people, Jeffreys has been known to roll up his sleeves and lend a hand to the needy.
Throughout his career, he's performed countless benefit shows, including multiple ones with longtime friend Bruce Springsteen in Asbury Park, N.J., in the acclaimed Light of Day concert series — a benefit that raises funds to help the fight against Parkinson's disease.
"I've been doing this my whole career — taking action," Jeffreys said.
Jeffreys' wife, Claire, said last week she heard about a potential benefit show in the works for those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Jeffreys, who still needs to gather more information on the potential show, said the event is on his radar, and "if it has the ability to [make an impact] — I'll join for sure."