G. Love’s Pre-Show Pop Off
The Bones of J.R. Jones
Wed, January 25, 2017
Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm
The Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY
This event is 18 and over
G. Love’s Pre-Show Pop Off includes a general admission ticket with early entry, access to a pre-show performance and Q&A with G. Love at sound check, group photo on stage with G. Love and a limited edition poster autographed by G.Love. You will receive instructions via email 4-7 days before each show with event information.
American Express® Card Members get access to an exclusive presale on October 26 at 12pm. Simply use your American Express® card at checkout.https://www.boweryballroom.com/event/1371377/
To create their down and dirty "trashcan blues" sound, G. Love and Special Sauce returned to Brushfire Records' Solar Powered Plastic Plant in Los Angeles. The band was excited to reteam with Sugar engineer and producer Robert Carranza (Jack Johnson, Beastie Boys, Mars Volta). They recorded live with few edits to capture the immediacy of the music: G. Love making his guitar snarl and his harmonica moan, bassist Prescott bringing nimble funk to the bottom end and Clemens' drum work crackling with power. "The music," G. Love enthuses, "jumped off the tape."
The new album completes the trilogy for G. Love that started with 2011's Fixin To Die. That disc stripped his music down to its roots and saw him record with The Avett Brothers, while Sugar, in G. Love's words, "reconnected the blues with the electric side" and reunited the original trio to create the band's signature style of blending John Lee Hooker blues with "Golden Era" hip-hop beats. On Love Saves The Day the group dives even deeper, making the grooves heavier, the music rawer and the performances more authentic.
G. Love also feels Love Saves The Day is his most rock 'n' roll record yet. Just listen to the title track that opens the album and you'll hear why. This blast of furious blues, powered by David Hidalgo's wicked guitar work, stands toe-to-toe with the classic work of Cream and the other blues-inspired bands of the '60s and early '70s. Hidalgo, a returnee from the Sugar sessions, plays on two other songs, "Dis Song" and "That Girl." Besides being the first tracks recorded, G. Love sees these three tunes as forming the core of the album. They also lead off the release and set the record's rugged, raucous tone.
This wonderfully unruly spirit flows through the revved-up rendition of the old Leadbelly tune "New York City," where G. Love does a delightfully ragged duet with celebrated singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams. On the mesmerizing "Muse," which arose from an all-night writing session he had with his old pal Citizen Cope, G. Love's sinewy slide guitar drives the tune's southern rock/hip-hop hybrid groove. "Baby Why You Do Me Like That" kicks off with scratching from another old friend, D.J. Logic, and features the album's heaviest hip-hop beats. Adding to the groove on "Muse" and "Baby..." is the energetic horn work supplied by L.A. band Ozomatli; however, their contributions really shine on "Let's Have A Good Time," a super funky jam that could have easily been a lost James Brown gem.
Although "Let's Have A Good Time," along with the catchy, power-of-love ode "Peanut Butter Lips," rank as the lighter tunes on the album, the overall lyrical mood, as G. Love easily admits, tends to favor the darker side. Even the seemingly optimistic title track turns heavy towards the end. Standout cut "Back To Boston," which examines a troubled relationship, was written on a drive from New York City to Boston. Longtime fans will recognize the tune from the acoustic EP Bloodshot & Blue, but G. Love wanted to give it the full-band treatment, with the new version showcasing frequent collaborator Mark Boyce's jazzy organ work. The rough-hewn performances on tracks like "That Girl," "Pick Up The Phone" and "R U Kidding Me...!" further reflect the lyrics' raw emotions, with the sharp-tongued "Dis Song" representing the peak of, as G. Love calls it, "pissed- off-ness."
Whether angrily railing about a girl with a "shotgun tongue" in "Dis Song," joyfully leading a party celebration in "Let's Have A Good Time," or solemnly addressing love woes on the solo acoustic tune "Lil' Run Around," G. Love's vocals vividly express his torn-from-the-heart emotions. He has been putting more emphasis on his singing in the past few years, and feels his vocals on the new album are his strongest ever. G. Love admits that singing with Citizen Cope and Lucinda Williams on this album, and the great session singer Merry Clayton on Sugar, made him raise his game.
He certainly has come a long way in the 20 years since drummer Clemens discovered him performing in a Boston pub. The two started playing together and, after Clemens brought in upright bassist Prescott, G. Love & Special Sauce was born. Their self-titled debut, featuring the hit "Cold Beverage," wound up going gold. The band became known for their live shows and performed around the world. G. Love has played with and without Special Sauce over the years, but now the trio is back together and it feels right. G. Love believes the current manifestation of the band is stronger than ever and is riding a creative high, adding "and we didn't want to kill each other."
Love Saves The Day marks G. Love's sixth with Brushfire Records and he's thrilled with their relationship. He lauds label chief Emmett Malloy as someone driven by creativity first and whose aesthetic tastes he trusts. G. Love views today's music world as the Wild West, with "all the lines washed away;" however, his genre-blurring music now is more relevant than when he started. "It's a good time to be doing what we are doing," he asserts, noting Gary Clark Jr., Jack White, Robert Randolph and Galactic as some fellow keepers of the blues flame who "maintain the roots but push music forward."
G. Love proudly describes himself as a road dog who "will be touring until I fall off the earth" and plans to keep on pushing with Special Sauce from stage to stage. Whether Love Saves The Day makes one dollar or a million isn't a big concern to him. It stands as a huge success because he made the gritty, honest album that he intended by "keeping it raw, keeping it immediate, keeping it real." It's an approach that he has honed over the years: "be original and be true to what you do."
best: he wrote music. That it happened to be during his honeymoon mattered little to the
New York-based musician. "I feel like I'm always writing," the artist who performs as
The Bones of J.R. Jones says with a laugh. "I feel ever more confident in the sound I'm
trying to create."
In many ways, Linaberry is a victim of his own creativity. Where some musicians lock
themselves away in a studio to create an album or a concrete collection of songs,
Linaberry can't help but write whenever inspiration strikes. The blues singer and multi-instrumentalist, who incorporates elements of old-time folk into the all-encompassing
persona of The Bones of J.R. Jones, describes his songwriting as "a continuing evolution." Nonetheless, he admits he often wishes his ever-wandering creative spirit would settle down. "I would jump at the chance to have the flexibility where I can have six months locked away in a room and focus on one solid cohesive theme for a record," Linaberry says. "But unfortunately with my schedule I try to cram these songs into the spaces of my life where I can fit them."
Thankfully, within these delicate cracks of life, Linaberry is able to strike musical gold: The Bones of J.R. Jones' latest album, Spirit's Furnace, a crisp nine-track effort that bubbles with barroom dust and hard-won wisdom, finds the musician expanding the scope of his musical vision while stripping away the excess. "I'm a little clearer on the message that I'm trying to put out into the world," says the singer who has effectively blurred the line between his own life and The Bones J.R. Jones character; he draws evermore from his personal life on his songs, most notably the tender, banjo-plucked "Wedding Song" written day's before his own nuptials.
"It's definitely a balance," Linaberry says of expanding beyond his self-created alter ego. "I try to inhabit this character... whoever it may be. But obviously a huge influence on that is what's going on at that time in my life. And then I'll twist it through the spectrum of The Bones of J.R. Jones. It usually gets a lot darker after but they both inform each other."
While 2014's Dark Was The Yearling hinted at an artist grappling with his influences, albeit still carving out his own existence, the new Bones of J.R. Jones LP instead "feels a little sharper, a little more defined" to Linaberry. "On this album I'm more confident in my choices and feel better about the performances."
Linaberry remains a disciple of early 20th-century blues and folk artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lightnin' Hopkins, both of whom the singer discovered in his teenage years. Still, he readily admits more contemporary influences are beginning to creep into his musical oeuvre. "I like to think I'm casting a wider net," Linaberry says, citing opening Spirit's Furnace track "13 Kinds" and "I'm Your Broken Dog" as "major departures" for him, what with their heavy folk influences and electric guitar as opposed to his earlier more traditional blues numbers. "I definitely still listen to the folk and blues stuff, but I really try to make a conscious effort to listen to music outside that box — whether it be bands like Sylvan Esso or more pop-influenced stuff," he adds. "Sometimes you have to find out what the kids are listening to!"
Part of his current challenge, he explains, is paying homage to his influences while still making his own mark. "I am hyperaware of the history that a lot of the music I play brings with it," he says. "I'm trying my damnedest not to reinvent the wheel but carve out my own voice. It's very tough to create something in this day and age with everything being a tap away without having a little history involved in it. But it's about finding that balance where the music does feel fresh and new but also familiar at the same time."
What has continued to define The Bones of J.R. Jones is the musician's hypnotic liveshow. He operates as a one-man band — playing guitar, drums, and singing in unison, creating the feeling of a raucous blues band with more immediacy. However, as a result of his new album's size and scope there has emerged a stirring impulse in him to bring other musicians onstage.. "These songs are big enough that if I wanted to have another drummer up there with me it would make sense," he explains. "I'm trying to evolve the live show and the space it lives in.
"Anytime I think about my live show I try to view it from one of my audience member's perspective," he concludes. "I do a lot up there. I cover a lot of ground sonically. I'm trying to give myself room to grow."
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St
New York, NY, 10002