Yeah, it’s that easy
Hunting down G. Love on the shores of Jersey
G. Love is AWOL.
Earlier in the week, a reporter called a record rep in Los Angeles, who called a tour press girl in New York, who called G. Love’s manager, who called G. Love and scheduled an interview.
Now, at the appointed hour, the manager calls the press girl who calls the reporter with the secret phone number that dials in to G. Love. The reporter calls the number and hears only a recording of improvised blues guitar. It’s unmistakably G. Love playing, but where is the man himself?
Unsure of the habits of East Coast hip-hop/blues stars, the reporter hangs up and waits a few minutes. Perhaps he’s in the bathroom or had to step out for a Philly cheese steak. When two more calls yield only the same recorded riffs, the reporter calls the press girl who calls the manager.
“We’re trying to find him. We’ll call you when we get a location,” the press girl reports in a serious tone, as if G. Love is a missing secret agent.
Perhaps by means of a covert satellite tracking system, G. Love’s whereabouts are discovered and the press girl calls back with another number. “Call right now,” she urges. “He’s there right now.” The reporter hastily dials the number before G. Love can teleport to a new locale.
“Hey, this is G,” a mellow voice drawls. The reporter feels a small sense of victory. “Sorry about being late,” he says. “I’m at the beach.”
As he speaks, he’s lying in a hammock at a New Jersey beach house. The loud, rhythmic panting of his dog provides a steady backbeat to the interview. Turns out that G. Love is on vacation, or rather, paternity leave. He’s just become a father.
“We had a boy,” he explains. “I haven’t been on tour since we had the baby. I’ve been off for about a month and a half, but we’re getting ready to head out this weekend.”
G. Love and Special Sauce, the Philadelphia-based blues, jazz, hip-hop and kitchen-sink trio—composed of G. Love on guitar and vocals, Jim Prescott on string bass and Jeff Clemens on drums—plays 150 to 200 live shows a year. It’s a schedule that’s hard to mix with family life. “I know I’ll miss them,” G. Love says about leaving his family for the tour, “but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. It’s what I love to do, too—playing music.”
In the eight years it’s been together, the trio’s extensive touring has allowed its performance skills to mature. “In our live show, we’re opening up,” G. Love says. “We’re doing a lot more jamming and improvisation. My goal for the next year is to make us an even greater jam band.”
Capturing this live spirit was the idea behind the band’s latest album, Electric Mile. “We wanted a representation of what we do live onstage,” G. Love says, “but a little bit tighter, more succinct than a show.” The band brought in several guest musicians to play on the album, including rapper Jasper Thomas, Billy Conway of Morphine and John Medeski of Medeski, Martin and Wood. The result is an eclectic mix of songs influenced by strains of ska, hip-hop, gospel, jazz and folk music.
Critics have proffered theories that Electric Mile is a statement on the diversity of American musical tradition, but G. Love insists that the album’s varied repertoire emerged unconsciously. “I always let the music lead,” he says. “I guess there are a bunch of musical styles on Electric Mile, but I didn’t even realize it until I started doing interviews on the album. But that’s me. All these different flavors are part of me and my music.”
The dog sighs in the background. The reporter, feeling guilty about poking into G. Love’s last days of vacation, winds up the interview with a question about his future goals.
G. Love replies with the present-moment, Zen attitude characteristic of one lying in a hammock by the sea. “Everything’s going good right now. I don’t know what I’ll do next.”