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An Interview with Jeffrey Halford
By CSO French Contributing Journalist, Hélène Dagorn.

HD : Could you introduce yourself for the European audience?

JH : I’m Jeffrey Halford, a California songwriter, and I play with my backup band, The Healers. We love all kinds of music, particularly rock ‘n roll, blues, R&B, and folk.

HD : It has been 3 years since your last album. Could you talk about your new album "Railbirds." What was the inspiration behind it?

JH : In terms of inspiration, I didn’t have any choice in the matter. Inspiration comes on a daily basis. I’m affected by the towns I visit, women, my relationships, the oddities that life brings you. I’m also very inspired by Americana…trains, American history, American literature, some of the "Big Sky" parts of America, and trying to uncover some of the bizarre dark stories in America’s past. I’m also inspired by the great musicians I play with—Augie Meyers and Chuck Prophet are on the album, along with a cast of other great artists. I was spilling over with songs, and I felt these were the 14 best.

HD : Do you have some personal favorites from the album? Why?

JH : "South of Bakersfield" is one of my favorites. I wrote it after I thought the album was finished, and just had to add it to the CD. It was such a smooth, natural song to write—there was no real labor—and when we recorded it it was the exact same way, thanks to Steve Bowman (former drummer with Counting Crows), who laid down the perfect, relaxed groove. "Safe at Home" was my response to 9/11, and the first song that I’ve ever done with a string arrangement. Adam Rossi, the producer of "Railbirds," arranged the strings and it’s a weeper. "Railbirds," the title track, is also a ballad with some beautiful, sparse barroom piano and harmonica.

HD : How would you define your style of music?

JH :Definitions are hard, but I was always moved by finger picking guitar/country blues, rock ‘n roll, gospel, folk rock…the list is endless. I take it all in and then spit it out with my own particular stamp.

HD : Who are some of your musical influences?

JH : I’ve been listening for years to Elvis and Eddie Cochran, Robert Johnson, Ray Charles, Jorma Kaukonen, The Staple Singers, Ry Cooder, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Keith Richards, Bono, Harry Nilsson, Leon Russell, Bonnie Raitt, just to name a few.

HD : You have included originals and one of Harry Nilsson’s big hits. What criteria do you use to choose a song for an album?

JH : In terms of cover songs, I have to be moved by it. I’ve been on a Harry Nilsson kick lately. He’s a phenomenal songwriter with an incredible sense of melody, with no boundaries in style. He can play anything. On this particular track—"Jump Into the Fire"—he did rock ‘n roll, and he did it as good as anyone. He’s the kind of artist I’d like to be someday.

HD : A day in Jeffrey’s life, how do you describe it?

JH : Wake up, big coffee, big guitar, big love.

HD : Have you traveled to Europe? Where? Do you plan to tour soon?

JH : I haven’t been to Europe yet, but I hope to this year. I just need a kind promoter to make me an offer I can’t refuse. Please call me. I’m #19 on the Euro-Americana Charts.

HD : Could you talk about your musicians "The Healers" ?

JH : They’re an awesome crew. I hand picked each one. We’re all much more interested in feel than technicalities. Rich "Golde" Goldstein is a great atmospheric guitarist and captures the mood in some of the darker tunes, like on "Nine Hard Days." There’s a part of the song that talks about hangings, and he’s able to capture that darkness on his guitar. And of course he can turn it around and get very happy.

HD : As an independent artist, what do you think of being with a small label?

JH : I have total control over my material, but I don’t have a big budget behind me to get my material out to the people I want to hear it. It seems that in America, the music business keeps getting further and further away from the art. I don’t want to fall into that trap.

HD : Have you written for someone else than you? What other artists would you like to cover your songs?

JH : I never wrote songs so that other artists would cover them. They’re very personal, but if something moves another artist, I wouldn’t mind at all. I’d like a country artist like George Strait or Merle Haggard to do "South of Bakersfield," or Solomon Burke to do "Nine Hard Days" or "Purgatory." I’d be honored.

HD : Where can one get information about yourself?

JH : Visit my web site at www.jeffreyhalford.com for information on live shows, current press articles, announcements, and links to buy the CD at online retailers.

HD : What’s the hardest thing in the music business?

JH : The hardest thing is to try to cut through the thicket of artists. It’s a crowded world out there. There are artists coming at you from every direction. But I’m hoping the cream will rise to the top, in my case at least.

HD : Could you tell us a story that moves you a lot during one of your shows ?

JH : Really good question. A fan at one of my shows came up to me on a break and was clutching one of my CDs. He told me that he wanted an autograph, and there were tears welling in his eyes. He said his wife had recently passed away, and that she used to listen to one of my CDs every day. I was truly moved by that.

HD : What’s next for Jeffrey Halford?

JH : I’m hoping a tour of France and the rest of Europe!

HD : Do you have a lucky charm?

JH : An old beer bottle opener that I sometimes wear around my neck on a chain.

Thank you very much Jeffrey

Hélène Dagorn - helene.dagorn@club-internet.fr 

 

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