“This is the most honest album I've ever made,” says Jeffrey Halford, from the sunny living room of his home in San Francisco's West Portal neighborhood. Halford is the frontman, lead singer, songwriter and slide guitar player of Jeffrey Halford and The Healers, a band that lays down some of The City's darkest roots rock. He’s talking about his latest album, Broken Chord, just out on his own Shoeless Records label.
“Bruce Kaphan (American Music Club) produced it and gave the music an uplifting, old time rock'n'roll vibe that complemented the usual heartbroken feelings I like to explore,” Halford explains. “There's more fun and humor this time out.”
One thing that makes Broken Chord so effervescent is the participation of Augie Meyers, the Texas keyboard player whose distinctive Vox Continental organ sound has graced the records of Bob Dylan and The Sir Douglas Quintet.
“I met Augie a few years back and he said he'd like to help out. He lays down a groove that’s unstoppable; he lights up every song he plays on with his energy.”
Broken Chord, like the rest of Halford's work with The Healers, follows the journey of ordinary working class people, as they travel down the weary highways of the heart, picking up the broken pieces of the American dream.
“Chicken Bones Jones” is a swampy blues that tips its hat to a man who survives by recycling garbage at a land fill, while “Dead Man's Hand” is a dense, grinding rocker sung by a man sadly realizing that his dreams are not going to come true. On the brighter side is the ‘50s jive of “Rockabilly Bride” and “In a Dream,” a rocker goosed into overdrive by Meyer's TexMex organ. work.
Halford played guitar as a teenager in Los Angeles, but didn’t get serious about music until met Jimmy Ventilator and Harry Spider on the streets of San Francisco.
“I was on my way to a college class (Halford was studying to be an architect) when I saw Jimmy and Harry playing in Union Square. Their energy knocked me out.”
Halford quit school, bought a small amp and joined Ventilator and Spider on The City’s streets, where he learned how to entertain a crowd with the same mix of country, rock, blues and boogie that still inform his music.
“Roots music is hard to play,” Halford says. “But it's honest and contains all the sounds of America from New Orleans, to Memphis, to Muscles Shoals, to San Francisco.”
IF YOU GO
Jeffrey Halford and The Healers with Augie Meyers
Where: Biscuits & Blues, 410 Mason St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Contact: (415) 292-2583