I saw G. Love & Special Sauce tonight at the Showbox. I used to groove to G. Love in college—his funky blues guitar and marblemouthed vocals got me through many a chore-filled Sunday, and I performed a rap about Herbert Hoover over the song “Garbageman” for my portfolio presentation at Stanford’s School of Education. So I was psyched when my friend Brady said he’d scored a couple free V.I.P tickets from his buddy Jeffrey “Houseman” Clemens, who plays drums in the band. Sweet! Free drinks, cool badges, and after the show, while we were hanging backstage, I could do my Herbert Hoover rap for G. Love and crew. Hampyyyy in the houuuuuuse!
The show started off rough. Maybe it was the woman in front of me who was occupying the space of about ten people by dancing like she was being attacked by a dog. I can dig grooving to the music, but thrashing around is just not cool at a crowded concert. Anyway, once we moved to a less dangerous sector of the club, things picked up. The highlight was a hushed performance of “Blues Music” segueing into a cover of “Walk on the Wild Side.” Two of my favorite bass lines back to back. Brady, who played bass in a band with Jeffrey in New Orleans, must have been in heaven.
After the show, we went backstage and hung out with Jeffrey and the band for a while, then went back to the bus so that Jeff could give us a CD of a side project he’s doing. I was shocked to see that the bus was decked out in full rock star treatment—flat screen TV, leather couch, fawning teenage fans, the whole shebang. I thought that was solely for 80’s arena rock bands.
Driving home, I asked Brady if he’d want Jeffrey’s life. Brady is a great bass player, who has the skill and connections to play professionally if he wanted. But now he has a wife and two children, and his current band, King of Hawaii, rarely performs because the frontman is busy being a doughnut shop tycoon.
Brady says that while he used to want to be a rock star, those dreams are probably beyond his grasp now. “You see a lot of Musician Wanted classified ads saying, ‘No drug addicts, no losers, no dads,'” he said with a laugh. That doesn’t bother him much anyway. Now that he’s felt what it’s like to come home and see his kids sleeping in their beds, he wouldn’t trade it for Jeffrey’s world tours. “That’s a pretty lonely life,” Brady said.
I don’t doubt it. Jeffrey’s been playing this gig for 16 years. That’s 16 years of being gone for months on tour. Buses with leather furniture must be cold comfort after a while.
Still, the show inspired both of us to get back on the stage (I quit my band a few years ago). It must be a blast being the Houseman on stage pounding out some funky groove, or Jimmy Jazz locked in like a deadbolt in a doorjam, or G. Love strumming those bluesy 9th chords and rhyming on top.
All that The Sauce was missing tonight was some fresh material. And you know what kind of fresh I’m talking about. Fresh like my fresh-from-the-fridge rhymes. Kick it!
Herbert Hoover hits the hay, dams his stream of C. and drops a line.
Herbie, Herbie, Herbie, Herbie dreams of me I’ve got a dumpster in my gut
And graffiti up my spine. I got a lesson plan like the beached whale of Babble-on,
Objectives like Clinton’s administration.
I got reflections of reflections of reflections on reflection.
I got this student named Michael he thinks he’s Mr. Pedagogical,
He says my methodology is simply ineffectual,
And furthermore my pitiful delivery is massacred
Because of my, um, use of, like, distracting, um, like, filler words.
Evaluation! I got gum on my shoe now!
Evaluation! Skillful / Competent / Needs Improvement—OW!
Evaluation! Chalk dust on my eyebrow!
Evaluation! Skillful / Competent / Needs Improvement—
Herbert Hoover stole my milk money!
Stick that in the fridge, G. Love.