G. Love & Chuck Treece at City Winery / May 8, 2021
G. Love is unique. He brings blues to hip hop and also brings hip hop to blues. Born Garrett Dutton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Love started playing guitar at the age of eight and wrote his first song when he was in ninth grade. Finally, he placed a harmonica in a grid so that he could blow blues melodies while playing his guitar. He couldn’t escape his attraction to rap though. By the time he started performing on the streets of Philadelphia, he had formulated a distinctive way of marrying American roots with contemporary urban sounds.
Tonight at City Winery NY, Love sang and rapped without the accompaniment of his usual band, Special Sauce. Instead, he played four acoustic guitars and many harmonicas, and was accompanied only by drummer Chuck Treece, another Philadelphian who is a seasoned session musician (and professional skateboarder). Love devoted his first set to roots music and the second to hip hop. In the 1990s, Love’s original audience was among the student crowd, and the reasons were evident in tonight’s live set. The show was not designed to be polite. These weren’t about finely crafted songs or thoughtful lyrics. The performance was meant to ignite a party. Love’s audiences are now 25 years older and have been found to be more inclined to sip wine at a table than dance near their chairs, but Love’s enthusiasm and playfulness has sparked a party spirit nonetheless. throughout the room. Love and Treece performed stripped-down versions of some of their better-known songs and some more recent songs, but the evening wasn’t all about the songs, it was about bringing their fans together and uniting their fans in a festive groove. . While they might not be as appealing to a blues or rap purist, Love and Treece had a sure mastery of music for the sake of cheerfulness.