G love and Special Sauce: spreading some blues-laced rap
they recorded live at Studio 4 in Philadelphia. where Cypress Hill cut Black Sunday. Recorded on ()Keh. the album marked the relaunch of this much revered blues label famous for the likes of Duke Ellington. Bo Diddley. Chuck Willis and Screamin‘ Jay Hawkins.
Although he‘s obviously well chuffed to be part of the label's relaunch. it wasn't listening to such greats that got G Love into the blues. ‘I was really into Bob Dylan when l was a kid and that led me to acoustic music. especially John Hammond who hooked Dylan up
‘I was really into Bob Dylan when l was a kid. The first time I ever put on a blues record, the first note changed my lite.’
with The Band and also introduced him to his father. John Hammond Senior. the big talent scout and producer.‘ [who signed Billie Holiday, Bruce Springsteen. Stevie Ray Vaughan as well as Dylan to Columbia records].
If it's blues that give G Love's sound such a laid-back feel. it’s rap that makes it kick. The fusion of lazy country blues with a kind of back-porch rap makes you sit up and wonder what the hell it is. The band must have wondered what kind of funky hybrid they had created. so much so that they made up their own word — ragmop — to describe it. When pressed to explain. he rnumbles that it just seemed like the
right kind of nonsensical onornatopoeic word. ‘like it had the same sound as the music plus we wanted to make up our own stupid word for it before somebody else did!‘
Unlike a lot of white boy rappers. G Love doesn‘t try too hard and his style has more in common with of mellow rap funksters like De La Soul or Digable Planets rather than the harder
= sounds ofgangsta. Most ofthe songs
aren‘t about very much, hanging out. drinking. playing basketball. driving your '63 Dodge Star down the freeway. falling in love, summer in the city
3 kinda' thing but that’s OK. This 'Ainr
Living is an exception, with more than a nod towards Marvin Gaye's anthem for life on the wrong side ofthe tracks Inner City Blues, this is the story of urban decay played out in every big American city and is one of the funkiest tracks on the album.
G Love is truly into his musical heritage and isn’t afraid to let you know. Reggae giants Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley are up there with Dylan. Hammond, so too is the soulful Rev Al Green, but it‘s that Mississippi Delta sound that continues to strike a big blues chord with him. ‘In the southern states, people saw it as ‘diity' and called it the Devil's music because it was so powerful and meant so much. it‘s the music that really moves me. the ﬁrst time i ever put on a blues record the very ﬁrst note changed my life and I knew that l’d fallen in love.‘
G Love and Special Sauce play King Tats. Glasgow on Mon 29.
There’s a griot oin’ on
When the vocals arrive, you know you’re in Africa, but there are times when it could be Paraguay or Peru. The cross-rhythms set up by the two African harps, the koras; the cascade of notes over the ground riffs of the balaton, a sort of boning xylophone; all is reminiscent of the swirling melodies and insistent repetitive rhythms of the charango and harp in Andean music.
As three of the greatest ialis from Senegal and Gambia - in the heartland of the rich Mandinka musical heritage of West Africa — Dembo Konte, Kausu Kuyateh and Mawdo Suso were brought up in a hereditary tradition of griot families, which loosely translates as equivalent to a combination of hard and fili in the old Gaelic clan system.
Although the balafon is an ancient instrument, it is the relative newcomer, the kora, only a few hundred years old, that is now
l i ! l l
Dembo Konte, Mawdo Suso and Kausu Kuyateh established as the dominant voice in what continues to be a vital and vibrant living culture, and one which in its scales, call-and-response, and improvisatory structures, informs the roots of the American blues and through that the basis of contemporary rock and popular music. A powerful fusion of Africa and the
z Andes can be heard in the songs,
music and mesmerising dance of Columbia’s Toto La Momposina. A star of Peter Gabriel’s Real World label, she comes from a bloodline of persecuted Indian and escaped slave, and from a tamin of musicians spanning five generations, she explains, ‘The music I play has its roots in a mixed race; being African and Indian, the heart of the music is completely percussive.’ (Norman Chalmers)
Dembo Konte, Kausu Kuyateh and Mawdo Suso play the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh on Tue 23.
Hootie And The Blowfish have still to make a significant impact on this side of the Atlantic, but they are currently attracting a lot of attention in the USA, where they have graduated from the grind of the club circuit to the even more relentless grind of the concert whirl, upping their annual gigging ration from a mere 250 to over 300 in the process.
The band got together as students in their native Columbia, South Carolina (they took their bizarre name trom the nicknames of two of singer Darius Hucker’s friends), and have built steadily on their tresh-sounding blend of uncomplicated southern rock and Rucker’s classic black soul vocal inflections, with a distinct undercurrent of country rootsiness thrown in.
They issued a couple of indie albums back home, but really began to attract attention with their major label debut album, ‘Cracked Rear View’, a title they pinched from a line in a John lliatt song which seemed to sum up their last four years on the road. The album is now out in the UK from East West, as is the single “Hold My Hand’, which the band jokingly call their ‘save the world song’.
‘The song basically just says stop whining about how bad things are and get up and do something,’ says
Hootie And The Blowtish: southern soul roots
Rocker. ‘Our music is all really straightforward, and with this album we went into the studio wanting to make an honest record which would reflect what we are as a band. We all felt that we had accomplished what we set out to do, so wefre real proud of it.’
The band — Rucker, guitarist Mark Bryan, Dean Felber on bass, and drummer Mark Sonefeld, generally known simply as Soni - have thrived on playing bigger venues in their current tour of the USA, but also admit that they have missed the intimacy of the clubs in which they came up, so The Garage should provide a good halfway-house for their Scottish debut. (Kenny Mathieson)
Hootie And The Blowtish play The Garage, Glasgow on Thurs 25.
The List 19 May~l Jun 1995 35