Q&A: Haverford Musician Jeffrey Gaines

With a new album under his belt and a fresh take on songwriting, the Main Line music maker is hitting a high note.

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Despite what’s implied on “Headmasters of Mine,” from his self-titled 1992 debut, Jeffrey Gaines didn’t go to prep school. But he does live in Haverford, not far from the esteemed all-boys institution of the same name. Gaines actually grew up near Hershey, finding his way to Philadelphia just as his career as a singer/songwriter began to take off. Since then, Gaines has done the major-label dance and performed all over the world. His travels included a 2010 tour with new-wave luminary Joe Jackson, from which the songs on his latest release, Live in Europe, are culled. MLT recently chatted with Gaines over coffee at Newtown Square’s Burlap and Bean, where his acoustic shows have been known to draw a crowd.

Photo by Jared CastaldiMLT: Are you as enamored with your first album as many of your fans are?
JG: The lyrics to every song on that record begin with “I” or “me.” That much morbid self-attention does not, in my estimation, make a great record. It wasn’t a winning formula. If it was, I would’ve done it over again.

MLT: Any career highlights you care to mention?
JG: My first tour was with Tom Petty in Europe. I moved to Philadelphia in 1989, got signed in 1990, and I’m over there playing for 12,000 people—solo.

MLT: Has stage fright ever been an issue?
JG: No. Only stage frustration. There’s nothing to fear when I know what I’m doing is right—and singing is something I trust and can fall back on.

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