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G. Love: ‘As musicians we can bring love, positivity, and music to lift people up’

G. Love performs at The Current, Jan. 2020. (Mary Mathis/MPR)
G. Love performs at The Current, Jan. 2020. (Mary Mathis/MPR)

by Sylvia Jennings

April 02, 2020

Following the release of their new album, The Juice, G. Love & Special Sauce set out on a tour...which has since, obviously, been cancelled. Morning Show host Jill Riley had a chance to check in with G. Love, who has been staying busy despite the major disruption in the music industry due to this global pandemic. G. Love discussed finding a silver lining within all of this craziness, how he plans to use his platform to give back to people who work in the music industry, and spreading positivity through music.

Jill Riley: Where are you calling from?

G. Love: Orleans, Massachusetts — out on Cape Cod, where we live these days.

So how are things there?

We got some baby chickens. We're hunkered down. I just found out yesterday that I'm going to be off the road until probably October. We were out on tour. Luckily we got to come through Minneapolis, and a couple weeks later, the tour was cancelled. We all went home, and I've been home now for about three weeks. It's like everybody else. The business is taking a huge, huge financial hit. Being on the road is how we keep the lights on and the whole thing running, so there's that. I know everyone is struggling across the board. On a personal note, we have a six-week-old baby and a four-year-old. This will be the longest I've ever been off the road in my life. It's a blessing in disguise to be able to be home with the family, so we're hunkered down and making the best of it.

Tell me about the new record, Juice. Let's tell people about it. 

The new record came out in January. It's great. It's produced by four-time Grammy award winner Keb Mo. There's wonderful special guests on it like Marcus King, who is on the title track, Robert Randolph, Roosevelt Collier, and introducing a young guitar player from Hawaii, Ron Artis II. The new record is blues-ified, and still has the funky thing that I do. It's got two sides on it, thematically. One very personal side about our family, and getting married, and planting those seeds, and then the other really taking a look at where our society is at right now, with songs like "Shake Your Hair" and the title track, "The Juice." It's a wonderful record. I hope everyone gets a chance to hear it.

I know that things are so uncertain, but what I like about talking to you is that I can hear an optimism and positivity in your voice. I mean, that's all we've got left, right?

Yeah. My last show was in Santa Barbara, and that was Thursday a couple weeks ago. We found out, "Alright, we aren't going down to San Juan Capistrano. Everyone's flying home tomorrow," three weeks shy of the tour being over. It was like the sky was falling, and the streets starting emptying. That Thursday night was the last night that most bands played any shows in this country. There was a complete shutdown in the music business. I got home and I was bugging out.

I mean, I do well. I make a great living, and I get to do what I love, but I gotta work and we're behind. So I'm having these massive anxiety attacks every night. The first week was a little tough but then I said, "what can I do now?" Some of the things I'm doing right now is: teaching online guitar classes. I've got about 12 students, and I'm doing guitar, harmonica and songwriting. I've been doing two livestreams a week. I do one on Thursdays at 4 p.m. [EDT] on Instagram and Facebook, and again Saturday at 5 p.m. [EDT]. The theme of these is going to be to give back to some of the people that we work with.

This Thursday we'll be raising money and we'll do an even split between our team and the staff and crew of legendary First Avenue in Minneapolis, where we've been playing for 25 years. What we're trying to do is find things to do to keep the cash flow coming in, and of course keep the music going out there. The music has been a wonderful thing for new fans and old fans alike. That's what we can bring as musicians. We can bring love. We can bring positivity. We can bring our music to people, and that's what I'm going to do as much as I can through the airwaves, while I'm home.

I think a lot of artists are finding this time as a way to creatively connect with fans. A lot of artists are finding a way to benefit your community or clubs, like First Avenue. The 50th anniversary of the club is this week and the lights are out and it just feels wrong. I imagine after playing at a place like First Avenue for a couple decades, they don't see a huge staff turnover so you probably see the same faces every time you're there.

Yeah. Conrad is really the bones and the blood of that place. He's been there and we've been working together for close to 25 years. We're family. These are working people. These are people that probably a lot of them live check to check. The bartenders are working for tips. Everybody across the board is just getting beat up. [We're doing] anything we can do to help them and help other people across the country at these places that we play. They make the venues nice. First Ave, especially, is absolutely a legendary club that we look forward to coming through and taking a bite of the delicious vibration that they set up every night for their customers.

G. Love, I appreciate you checking in. I know things are uncertain, but I do appreciate this positivity in your voice and best of luck in the future, alright?

Alright, Jill. Thank you so much and much love to everyone out there in the Twin Cities. One thing for certain is we will be back in person once the dust settles. I urge everyone to find some silver lining. If you've got a lot of time on your hands you could do something that you never got a chance to do before. Look for those moments. Thanks to The Current. Shouts out to Jim McGuinn and everybody there, and we'll look to see you guys soon.

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.