The Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter found a new home
for his latest album, The Hustle, with friend Jack Johnson
With its broad ethnic mix and big-city yet low-key lifestyle
near tobut safely removed fromthe pressure cooker
of the entertainment capital New York City, Philadelphia has
long produced musical acts with a distinct difference, such
as those grouped under the Philly Soul sound.
In more recent years, artists such as live Philadelphia hip-hop
collective The Roots have also staked out territory well removed
from the mainstream.
In a similar vein, another difficult-to-peg Philly artist
and longtime Japan friend has charted a course all his own,
one that recently led him to make the move away from the majors
to an independent label. It was time for us to move
on from Sony and we waited until we found the right situation
to find a recording base. That was Brushfire Records,
said Garrett Dutton, aka G. Love, in a recent email interview
ahead of his upcoming Japan tour. Its a label
where creativity is placed before commerciality, and we could
make music and do business with our friends.
Owned by friend and fellow singer-songwriter Jack Johnson,
Brushfire provided the platform for singer, guitarist and
harmonica player Loves sixth and latest release, The
Hustle, which appeared this August. The pairs relationship
had been cemented when Johnson appeared on Loves Rodeo
Clowns back in the 90s, before ex-surfer Johnsons
career had begun to gather its present mainstream momentum.
Johnson is also present on The Hustle, getting a co-songwriting
credit on the song, Give It to You.
Jack added some production work and was key in helping
me choose the best songs from my myriad of demos, explains
Love. He also did some nice vocals and some rhythm guitar.
In addition to Johnson and Loves usual Special Sauce
unit of bassist Jimmy Prescott and drummer Jeffrey Clemens,
the album features the work of keyboardist, producer and frequent
Beastie Boys partner-in-crime Money Mark. Adds Love: Money
Mark played the cool piano track on The Hustle.
Its an honor to have such great musicians as part of
Loves first release in three years, The Hustle really
does have the relaxed sound of an album recorded without the
pressure of meeting a major label deadline. It is perhaps
Loves most consistently laid-back album in years, marking
a return to form after what some critics called the scatterbrained
effort of his last disc for Sony, 2001s Electric Mile.
The Hustle refers to everything is a hustle but
love, which means that it takes every ounce of strength
and hustle you have to get in front of the mic, but once you
have the mic it just has to be about the love, explains
Love. The album was also influenced, says Love, by the birth
of his son, and his breaking up with his girlfriend.
Ranging from the Philly Soul echoes of the title track to
the sly, hippy-dippy Fishing Song, The Hustle
plays to Loves strengths: The eccentric blend of acoustic
blues and white-boy rap that made him a standout when G. Love
and Special Sauce first broke with their self-titled 1994
debut. Asked about his musical influences growing up in Philadelphia,
Love recalls it was a lot of Beatles, Bob Dylan, Beastie
Boys, Run DMC and Robert Johnson.
Loves own favorite song on the track, he says, is Dont
Drop It, because its a hot hip-hop blues
track which has all the elements of what G. Love and Special
Sauce is all about. Its all live and its got the
After G. Love and Special Sauce almost went gold on the strength
of the MTV video for Cold Beverage, the group
found a core audience, touring heavily and following up their
debut quickly with a sophomore effort, 1995s Coast to
Coast Motel. When that album failed to sell as well, however,
the band reportedly almost broke up. But after taking a break
from each other they reunited, working together on a more
occasional and relaxed basis. The word from Loves publicist
is that Special Sauce will, in fact, be accompanying the singer
In the last few years, Grateful Dead legacy jam bands
and like-minded acts that mix elements of blues, soul, funk,
hip-hop, folk and roots rock have found an increasing audience
in Japan. Promoter Smash, in particular, has been a strong
supporter of such music, with Ben Harper and G. Love both
making appearances (Loves third) at last summers
Fuji Rock Festival.
Tickets for the upcoming solo tour, G. Loves first to
Japan in three years, have been selling well. Smash has added
a second Tokyo date at the smaller Liquid Room in Ebisu to
complement his previously scheduled appearance at O-East in
Shibuya O-East, November 17, and
Liquid Room Ebisu, November 18. See concert listings for details.
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