G. Love's Got Sauce

Simply put, the man does not stop moving. From his leisurely, yet confident saunter on stage to begin his first set, to the impassionate harmonica solo at the end of the show, G. Love simply beckons the crowd to move, shout and clap your

G. Loves mixes the soul of the delta blues with hip-hop finesse like no other

hand and say "oh, yeah!".

My first glimpse of the new-age blues man was outside the Phoenix Concert Theatre, while waiting for Garret (G. Love) to return to venue for our interview. G. Love, wearing a high school kids backpack, jeans, skate shoes and a trucker cap, infamously worn backwards. By the looks of him, you would never guess that he's been working the music industry for over 13 years, but by the title of his newest album, "The Hustle" (2004, Brushfire Records), it becomes evident that he knows the hard work required to get to where he is now.

One thing does strike me though, upon getting him to sit down and talk for a minute; he knows blues music like he knows each fret of his guitar, and he knows what sets his music apart from anything that has come out of Philadelphia in the past decade.

Left to Right: Jack Johnson, Donovan Frankenreiter, G. Love.

Citing musicians like Bob Dylan, John Hammond, Guru (Gangstarr), and Pharaoh Monch as some of his historical and more contemporary influences, it becomes obvious that G. Love is the product of dense American music history. His set attests to this. Jumping around on stage like a kid at hip-hop or rock show, to grabbing a seat and sitting intimately at the edge of the stage plucking the strings of his Gibson like Cat Stevens would have done during his more folksy tunes. The dichotomous energy that is this band requires you to leave your assumptions at the door. G. Love, the consummate visionary, who has managed to authentically fuse the roots of the blues, hip-hop, ska, dub, reggae, and jazz into a sound that is the special sauce his band speaks of through double drum

G. Love and Special Sauce comprised of Jimmy Prescott and Jeffrey Clemens

kits, an upright bass, and serious keys section. His set-up sounds simple, but add to that the stage presence of the six foot something G. Love, spitting rhymes like a high school punk who just skipped class to get a glass of lemonade and seduce the audience, and you've got something undeniable catchy.

G. Loves cites The Beatles as a major influence on the latest album, "The Hustle". His sound has matured somewhat since his debut in the mid nineties. However, the typical crowd pleasers like "My Baby's Got Sauce", "Give It to You" and "Back of the Bus" are still what G. Love does best in his live

"The Hustle", G. Love's latest album (Brushfire Records, 2004)

performances. Quirky, comical hip-hop tunes that lend themselves well to less thought, more dancing. When G. did get serious for a minute in between songs, it was kind of hard to switch gears. But, in the style of all classic bluesmen, he'd sit the audience down for a moment (figuratively speaking of course) and tell them a story; about a girl, about a situation, about life and he had you in palm of his hand. Then, he'd just wail it out on his electric guitar, completely giving into the blues music that got him into this in the first place. For a moment, you remember that this is not a gimmick, and that the mastery of these sounds is not an imitation. It's a true passion for the sounds of the Mississippi delta humbly honed in his early days as a busker in Boston's Harvard Square. G. Love's music is rooted in a respect for the past and the process by which recognition is attained. No wonder he has a certain satirical excitement about living in the now.

His next album is called "Lemonade" and is scheduled to drop later on in the year. Much like the rest of the audience in attendance last night, I can't wait to get a taste.

For more information, go to www.philadelphonic.com


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