Live music around New England has been making a slow and steady comeback in a variety of ways since the beginning of July. Some places are having socially distanced outdoor performances in a big plot of land while others are utilizing outdoor patios for the same thing. Down at Wuskenau Town Beach on 316 Atlantic Ave. in Westerly, the Misquamicut Drive-In has been having reputable acts perform in front of people who are cooped up in their cars. On Aug. 10, Philadelphia hip hop blues musician G. Love will be doing his thing there to start the week off right. He’ll be joined by Weymouth, Mass. native Daniel “Dela” Delacruz on sax and the Boston reggae funk band Organically Good Trio.
I had a talk with G. Love ahead of the show about how he’s been staying creative, treating a livestream performance like making an album, connecting with the community and a compilation that he’s a part of that’s supporting a great cause.
Rob Duguay: How have the past few months been going for you since the COVID-19 pandemic hit back in March? Have you used the time to remain creative in a variety of ways?
G. Love: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been a crazy time for us and especially our industry, which is really getting hit hard because we as musicians depend on people to gather in order for us to do our thing. Of course, our bread and butter is our touring and it’s always been like that so we’ve been shut down. I got off the road on March 12 and I panicked a little bit at first to be honest, but then I started to figure out what I could do. I started doing my Hunker Down Sessions, every day at happy hour I’d crack a beer and kind of do a “Mr. Rogers Musical Neighborhood For Adults” kind of thing while breaking down songs from my catalog and talking about them.
I also started doing some livestreaming and then I started offering guitar, harmonica, vocal and songwriting lessons, which has been really great to connect with the fans. Now being five months out, I’ve personally found that people are going outside more so performing virtually hasn’t been as popular as it was early on. My band and I have been transitioning from doing livestreams to playing social distance gatherings in people’s outdoor spaces at their homes. That’s been really fun and we’ve also been doing live performances at some venues and drive-in theaters where we’re actually getting to perform in front of people in a safe environment for everyone involved. That’s a brief outline of everything we’ve been doing and I’ll say that all of that stuff combined has been a really interesting time for us on a personal level with connectivity with our fans while also strengthening the music community from that.
It’s a time to find new lanes while maintaining strong connections with the fan base. It’s been really cool and a lot of fun while also being stressful and worrisome, but everybody is in this boat together. Everyone is going through this together and we’re all figuring out how to weather the storm here, that’s what we’re doing.
RD: I’m totally with you on that. It’s been a good time to connect with people, especially for me with catching up with old friends from college and family who live in other parts of the country. Also, live music is definitely making a slow creep back in some parts of the globe. You were just talking about virtual events and you’ve been a part of a few of them including Home Is Where The Art Is to benefit the Cape Cod Artists Relief Fund that took place on May 1, Love From Philly that happened on May 3 and more recently Justice Comes Alive which occurred on June 28. What do you think of livestreaming as a creative outlet?
GL: It’s a really interesting thing to do. Let’s be honest, we’re performers and a lot of us have been playing since we were kids. We love to make people smile and make people clap and everybody feels great, it’s a beautiful thing. When you do a livestream, it’s a really different kind of experience because when we’re playing no one is physically there. It’s really weird, you’re in this setting and you have to get into the mindset where you’re performing for a lot of people while you’re sitting in your dining room at the table and it’s completely quiet.
No one’s clapping for you after you play a song, at least not in the way you’re accustomed to. That’s a weird thing and it takes some getting used to. I talked to my friend Citizen Cope about this and he relates it to getting into a similar kind of headspace you have when you’re making a record in the studio. When you’re doing that, no one is clapping for you but you still have to get into it in a different type of way with your music. It’s not a session or a practice, it’s a performance but it’s also a unique way to engage into your stuff if you’re into what you’re doing while conveying your emotion.
RD: There’s also a different kind of connection that gets through these virtual events with people that are watching. You’re also involved in a compilation titled The House That Bradley Built that’s coming out on September 4 with the proceeds going to build Bradley’s House, which is an in-patient rehab center named after Sublime’s Bradley Nowell that helps musicians who are battling opioid addiction. How did you become a part of this album?
GL: Since Bradley passed back in the ‘90s, I’ve been doing a lot with the remnants of the Sublime camp and the guys in Slightly Stoopid to be a part of the Skunk Records thing, the Long Beach All-Stars and the various offshoot projects off of Sublime. Bradley left a huge void in the musical world and this album is through that community and it’s being put out through LAW Records, which is Pepper’s label. The Bradley Nowell Foundation is also involved in the record as well. The guys from Pepper hit us up, they asked me if I wanted to be a part of it and of course my answer was “Yes.” One of the Sublime tracks that’s always been connected with me is “April 29, 1992”, which is about the Los Angeles riots.
Being of the age when I remembered the riots happening and it was this huge thing, I clearly remember my father having a subscription to Time Magazine and I saved the issue about it. The riots were really crazy and I saved all of the papers from that day because it was interesting to me. I was on the East Coast in Philadelphia so it was captivating to see it from that lens. Long story short, that’s the song we did and I’m really happy with how it came out. Yesod Williams from Pepper actually plays drums on it, so it was a collaboration between me and the band.
I’m honored to be a part of it and hopefully the album raises some money to help musicians who are currently going through what Bradley went through. It’s a huge problem in our society, but the power of being a musician is that you can help people out of a jam and through a tough time with your music and that’s something I’m always down to do.
RD: That’s great, it’s awesome that you got involved with it. With the upcoming show at the Misquamicut Drive-In, will this be your first time performing in front of people in cars?
GL: Yeah (laughs), it sure will. It’s going to be my first time doing anything like that, I imagine that it’s going to be interesting. I’ve been doing some shows around where I am in Cape Cod, all of the shows have been sold out and they’ve been great. It’s different for a G. Love show to have everybody seated and stay where they are the whole time. My fan base is used to dancing and moving around, but it’s a sign of the times.
Everyone has to play along if they want to come to a show, it’s just the way it is. I think everyone kind of accepts that and from a listener’s and performer’s standpoint, we all have to make adjustments so we can all continue to play music and enjoy each other.
RD: Along with the Organically Good Trio and Dela, will there be any other special guests joining you on stage?
GL: Ain’t that enough? (laughs) Nah, that’ll be the band for this show. In a different time, maybe we would try to get some more people but you’re trying to mitigate a safe environment and the more people you have coming on and off the stage just risks more exposure. It’s still going to be a pretty big band, certainly bigger than anything I’ve done so far during this time. I’ve only been playing with my own trio over the past couple of weeks so this will be a bit different. No extra guests, we’ll be keeping it safe and intimate and it should be a great show.