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Shayfer James:  Live at The Watermark, Asbury Park, NJ

Audrey Rodgers

It was my absolute pleasure to witness Shayfer James and his band give one of the most riveting performances I've seen in quite some time.  The performance took place at an ocean side venue in Asbury Park, NJ called the Watermark.

I'd heard about their performances from friends in Manhattan, but had never been able to make it up to the city for a performance.  Knowing the album well already, I was overjoyed when I heard they were coming to perform just a few miles from my apartment.

What I witnessed was frankly uncanny.  Shayfer began the set with Tombstone Road, a track from his album 'The Owl & The Elephant'.  The energy on stage was incredibly high, which drew in an audience comprised of Shayfer's fans, but also locals and patrons there to see other performances.  By the end of the first chorus, the entire crowd was moving to the music in some form or another.   Shayfer's vocals sounded better than on the album in my opinion, and that is saying a lot as the album is truly amazing.

His glare and grin seemed to be directed toward everyone at once, like one of those portraits in a haunted house.   Shayfer's performance was, as his bio says, "theatrical but never contrived".  It is obvious that this guy has his feet planted firmly in two dimensions at all times.  Odd but totally captivating.

At first I assumed the energy would be a bit lower than your usual band performance as all the members are seated, but this was not at all the case.  Dante Edmont on Organ, and Melodica had an endearing quirkiness to him, coming off as straight from a Charlie Chaplin movie.  Mr. Jeremy Gillespie played bass in the cool and collected manner I always look for in a bass player, but with a distinct element of brooding.  Dusty Bones' performance on drums made clear why he is referred to as such.  He seemed to rattle and flail like some skeleton in the proverbial closet, with snake like movement accentuating dramatic cymbal flourishes.

Slower songs like Insincerely Yours made up for pace with unbridled passion and stellar performance by all the members while up-tempos boasted bombastic rhythms that kept bodies moving.
I was excited to hear that Shayfer is recording a new album with the live band, though I would have been even more excited for a sneak peek at a new song!  Guess a girl can't everything!

To truly sum it up: this is one of the best under the radar live bands out there, and Shayfer is, and yes I know this sounds extreme, one of the best songwriters of our generation without a doubt.  I have no doubt we'll all be hearing a ton about the new album, and hopefully even the current one "The Owl & The Elephant".

You can learn more at (The art on this site is worth a thorough look, with imagery hidden on every lyric page and all the sub pages.) and
                                                                   art by..Sarah Zar

There's a free download on the "Listen" page. Click the gramophone on the upper left corner of to find it!


  1. I, too, was absolutely moved by Shayfer James' live performance, which I was fortunate enough to catch a few months ago in Portland, Maine. The four of those guys play as if one... the music swells and fades like a heartbeat. Uncanny. It was definitely one of the all time best live performances I have ever seen! You do a great job of putting words to their amazing talent--I love "It is obvious that this guy has his feet planted firmly in two dimensions at all times." You've got that one exactly right, my friend. Well stated review, and I definitely share your excitement at their new album.

  2. Kitty, thanks for taking time to comment...
    Audrey did a great job....Pete

    follow Pete