G Love has been running the roads since his first American tour in 1994. He’s ready to return in 2022 with his band The Juice, starting in January, as part of a national tour. G Love & The Juice album been nominated for his first Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album as well. Throw in a live from home Christmas special to end this year to celebrate the holidays proper before heading back on tour.
G Love is also an active artist. At his December 2017 annual trip to Art Basel in Miami he came to be involved with the community’s first NFT. G love is releasing Juice Gang the first series of 10,000 unique pieces regenerative NFT. They are all based on the animations by artist Andre Solar. He did all the animated videos for the Grammy nominated album. I saw G Love perform at Blackbird Ordinary that year in Miami. In true holiday spirit, he took some time to talk about his past, present, and future music with NYS Music this December.
Matthew Romano: I was watching your Instagram live to get filled in on the announcements of the various projects you have coming up. I like how you did it while driving To the Beacon Theater for the Midnight Rider Gregg Allman’s birthday show. It reminded me of Summer 2006 when you killed harp and a freestyle live with Dave Matthews Band in Pittsburgh for Smooth Rider
G Love: (laughter) Dave’s probably the sweetest, humblest, most welcoming guy. That be being said I always say stupid shit to him. The first thing was during the 1994 horde tour in the catering line in Orchard Beach, Maine. I was a little shy then. This guy came up to me and said, “Your G love, I love your record.” I said thanks. He said I’m Dave Matthews and I’m like cool. What’s your band? Dave has taken us on the road through Canada and the States over the years. The musicianship with those guys is just unreal. That’s always an immediate “Yes” when that call comes up.
MR: Like when Leo Kottke met Bob Dylan? How about when you were on a full Philadelphonic Sound Bill you shared with Hall and Oates at Constellation Brands Center in Canandaigua, New York in August 2019. That was all Philadelphia music in the Finger Lakes that evening.
GL: I was really blown away by Darryl’s voice still being so strong. Just so great hearing all those tunes I grew up on the radio ya know? All those hits & the cool banter in between songs. They put on a hell of a show and I was glad to be a part of it.
MR: Lets jump cut to your most recent remix release with B Real & Slightly Stoopid on Everyday People.
GL: I cut that in Long Beach with Miguel. Very intricate stuff with each verse. Kyle McDonald of Slightly Stoopid is a really special and unique musician to me and many people. The way he makes beats and delivers flows is to the point where I can’t figure out where the “1” is (laughter) I was real pleased with how my rhymes came out. For Jon Phillips to say we’re gonna put B Real on this track… I was like to the moon. He’s in my top 5 MC’s. The first time I heard Cypress Hill it scared the shit out of me. To come full circle and be on a track with an all time inspiration was a real blessing.
MR: Yea man, it has a Kokua Festival sound to it. From the cold winter shores of Boston to the sunny skies of the San Diego and everywhere in between. Your setup in Cape Cod transcends coasts as well. That Kokua vibe. Your live feeds from home really showed a true homegrown set up. Looking forward to the Christmas special from the colder Orleans for the holidays.
MR: January 2022 has you back on Tour though with the Juice that stops in Buffalo and Brooklyn. How did you connect with Amy Bowles and Aaron Bellamy? I used to see them play with Sam Kininger in the same clubs the Special Sauce would hit in 2006.
GL: Yea they’re now in the super Juice. I love playing with those guys. The juice is kind of an eclectic collective. The unit on tour coming through your neck of the woods will have Chuck Trace on drums, Van Gordon Martin on guitar and Jimmy “Jazz” Prestcott on bass. That being said, the special sauce is well intact and will continue to do shows . The pandemic kind of created a pivot to open new doors to connect with great musicians from New England like the Bellamy’s. It feels like the right time to do a different show with a new sound. It’s gonna be rocking.
MR: Musicians in New York State helped find that same silver lining for new creations. What New York State gigs have you played that stick out over the years?
GL: What pops in to mind was Irving plaza one night where Chris Robinson sat in. He’s always been big bro status. We did our version of the Beatles “Help”. He sang the shit out of that. Actually the night we got signed is something worth talking about. We came down to New York City from Boston for these showcases back in the day in front of the labels and industry folks. We had two shows. One was at the CBGB gallery packed with Industry people; it was right next to the original CBGB club. Ya know we played it and did what we needed to.
But then after that show I felt very… “fuck this man, fuck this vibe”. The next show later that night was at the Bitter End on Bleecker street. So I’ll never forget Jimmy Jazz and I scored a piece of hash on the corner and twisted it up real quick on the street. I remember saying…” I don’t give a fuck about this bull shit.”
We went in to Bitter End that night and it only had one table filled in the back. I remember going in and playing a set that was really potent. You know just for us?G Love
MR: How was just playing the Beacon Theater for Gregg Allman’s birthday as part of the Allman Family Revival?
GL: The whole thing has been an amazing journey. Devon and I are very close. We had a band called jam town right before ABB did their thing. Devon wanted to take some time after his father passed before these tributes because he needed it. He wanted to let the dust settle out of respect for his father. He finally had the fruition of the dream going on the road recently. It’s so special to be part of the extended family. We toured with the Allman’s during the H.O.R.D.E. tour in ’95 where Warren would take me under his wing. There’s that legacy and comradery at the Beacon. It wasn’t planned for the show at the Beacon to be on Greggs Birthday. It just serendipitously was the available date they had for it. Devon loved that. I even got to do Cold Beverages with the cast . Then to get out front and share the mic with Devon for One Way Out surrounded by these other great musicians was an honor.
MR: I just saw Eric Gales for the first time a couple months ago who joined you at the Beacon on “One Way Out”
GL: He’s so cool man. I just saw him for the first time too and got to hang with him. Sweetest guy and his wife LaDonna. He’s the fucking man.
MR: We know the coldest beverages ever served live was to the thirsty Woodstock 99 crowd in Rome, New York. Speaking of Cold Beverages I remember years ago seeing you at a club in NYC for a Raconteurs show. Jack White said to you backstage “well if it isn’t Mr. Cold beverages” I think it was at Terminal Five.
GL: (laughter) That’s right it was at Terminal Five. I didn’t play with them but I came to the show. Another little side secret story from when we played Pontiac Michigan in 1994 during our first US tour. We played a cool show. There were a lot of Detroit artists at that gig like Kid Rock and Jack White. They told me years later that performance inspired them along their way. Pretty cool to hear that kind of thing.
MR: Keller Williams covered Back of the Bus at a recent gig of his I was at. Thank you for being an inspiration to New York musicians as well. John McConnell music and I cover 50 ways to leave your lover with our own split take on the original. I was able to get feedback from Steve Gadd on the grooves origins in March. Same concept though as putting your own style on it like you did in the studio with the Avett Brothers. It’s wide open for interpretation.
GL: Awesome. My manager said since you can’t make a hit why don’t you cover one? (Laughter) I said all right, let’s cut 50 ways. The beat is so iconic so I’m like OK let’s get away from that. When I play it live with Chuck we do the Steve Gadd beat but when I play it with house man we do it like the studio.
GL: Yea its about making things personable. You try to capture an emotion and a feeling of a certain thing around you. “When We Meet again” I remember specifically it being a spring day..you know the opener…Spring time is here the wind from the south blows strong and warm to clean up your house. Then I went back to the golden first year I had as a street musician where I met my band and the corner bar The Plough and Stars we played at in Boston which was important to us. Same with Willow Tree. I was living across from the Delaware River and the Penn Treaty park across had a lot of Willow Trees.
The park had a bunch of willow trees and I always loved them. I thought about the relationship between the river and the willow tree is so symbiotic. I also used that as a metaphor for a love song too ya know?
New York Dates:
January 24, 2022: Tralf Music Hall, Buffalo
January 27, 2022: Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn
August 21, 2022: Saratoga Performing Arts Center **with Dispatch and O.A.R