“The only live records I had as a kid,” Jeffrey Gaines explains, “were just unreal and completely crazy, like KISS’ Alive II. They set this precedent that there was no way anyone could ever match what I came to know as a live album. There’s just no way!”
Swapping riotous pyrotechnics and campy costume makeup for his compellingly personal and passionate songs of hope and unwavering faith, Gaines has captured the magic and intensity of his much awed and revered concert performances on Jeffrey Gaines Live, his first ever career spanning live album.
With only his voice and a guitar for accompaniment, Gaines has earned a reputation as a captivating performer entertaining his audiences everywhere he goes. On the road for over 150 nights a year, he recorded and documented one special night in November 2003, hosted by WXPN at the Theatre of the Living Arts in his home city of Philadelphia to record this album. “Some artists record their whole tour, picking the best stuff to release. We didn’t do that here. This is one show, one night being captured. It’s a snap-shot of the truth. It’s like ‘Hey, look over here, the picture has been taken.’”
The photo album Gaines’ collected from that magical night contains fourteen sensitive and melodic portraits including the inspirational “Hero in Me,” the sensual “Without You” and a heart-leaping, spellbinding version of the Sam Cooke staple “Change is Gonna Come.” Gaines is backed on the record by Don Piper (lapsteel, percussion, guitar) of A Don Piper Situation and Matt Thomas (pianos, organ, accordion).
Included with the live audio disc is a twelve song video culled from the same night appearing on the new DVD Plus format. Jeffrey Gaines Live is the first full-length album ever released in the U.S. as a DVD Plus, which incorporates the audio portion of the show on one side of the disc and the video segment on the other side. Exclusively featured on the DVD is Gaines’ chart-topping rendition of Peter Gabriel’s classic “In Your Eyes,” complete with a roof-raising sing-along from everyone in the audience. “They just got completely into it,” recalls Gaines, “I just played a little lighter so I could enjoy that moment myself because it was simply amazing to hear them all singing along.”
Raised in Harrisburg, PA by parents more inclined to spin soul classics by Aretha and Otis than the New Wave and Brit Rock blasting from their son’s room, a teenaged Gaines began playing guitar in several local garage bands covering The Who, The Kinks, and The Jam. He soon decided to set out on his own and quickly landed a record deal in 1992, releasing Jeffrey Gaines, the first of his five studio releases. The album garnered four stars from The Philadelphia Inquirer, describing Gaines as “…an ethereal soul…insistent, impassioned, full of self-knowledge.” 1994’s Somewhat Slightly Dazed, and 1998’s Galore followed suite. Interview Magazine called Gaines’ music “soul-searching” and “refreshingly free of jargon, sentiment or cliché.”
In 2001, Gaines released Always Be (Artemis) to both critical and commercial praise. Featuring his emotional interpretation of “In Your Eyes” and his own soaringly beautiful “Always Be,” the album hit #5 on R&R Callout America CHR/Pop list, also reaching #45 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. The New York Post proclaimed Always Be as “a dozen-song mix…that completely illustrates the depth he is capable of.”
Gaines’ impressive catalogue grew with 2002’s Toward The Sun, produced by Mitchell Froom (Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, and Crowded House). The Boston Globe declared that “Gaines’ soulful, wounded vocals make a case for his being one of pop’s finest singers…an artist who deserves far more attention than some of his more hyped, yet less talented peers.” Mojo noted, “This established soul-folkie’s sexy growl has an underlying edge, making it a memorable album. Heartfelt unpretentious.”
Throughout his career, Gaines has built a rapport with his fans unlike any other in popular music today. Gaines goes as far as letting his fans influence the songs he performs each night. “When its just me playing, I only know the first song I’m going to play, but from there the energy and the vibe tell me what the next song is gonna be. Someone may yell a song, and I’m like ‘Exactly! Good call.’ That’s so fun to me, keeping it really exciting and spontaneous. I don’t even know what’s around the corner, and the crowd doesn’t either.”
Jeffrey Gaines Live is the singer/songwriters sixth release and perhaps the one which means the most to him since it is a special tribute to his fans. “This live CD/DVD- Plus is really cool for me, something I am so very proud of. We have songs from every little period of my career and it’s sort of a thank you to the fans who have been with me, and for those who are new to my music, I would love it if they come on board. We’re ready for you. We’ve always been ready for you, so c’mon.”