Photography by Hapless Guitar Photography, Article by Tim McLaughlin
The beauty of music is that is is all around you, you just have to look.
I was going home to Cape Cod to celebrate my birthday with my family and as I always do I was on the lookout for music. This time I was in for a great surprise as one of my favorite musicians was playing a mini-solo tour around the beach communities of New England. On this night it was G. Love at the Beachcomber in WellFleet Massachusetts. This beachside bar is a great setting for a solo or duo acts.
If you’ve spent anytime around me you know I have few rules about shows, but a big one is “you always see the opener.” On this night it was The Ries Brothers (pronounced Rees), a duo out of Tampa Florida. Kevin Ries had mentioned in past interviews about his influences, which range from Slightly Stoopid to Buckethead. His older brother, Charlie, mentioned his influences from The Doors to The Smiths. If you pay attention to the music you can see they have mixed their influences well. The instrumental portion is a good mix of genres (blues, funk, and reggae) by Kevin, with Morrison/ Morrissey like lyrical stylings from Charlie.
On this night they played for about 40 minutes and did a stellar job getting the crowd worked up for the headliner, G. Love. The beach bar setting was a laid-back and their surfer/ boarder vibe was on display along with their loose and energetic set was more like a headliner that an opener. The highlight of their set to me, beyond the music was the ease at which they performed and interacted with the crowd. My favorite was when Kevin introduced “the band,” which you would think would be quick. You would be surprised. Kevin introduced his older brother Charlie; “ On the drums/ Charlie Ries, On the keys/ Charlie Ries, and on lead vocals/ Charles Ries.” Then Charlie introduced his brother, “on guitar/ Kevin Ries.” Please note that Kevin Ries also sings backup and played ukulele.
Kevin Ries with the ukelele
Their set included songs that I still can’t get out of my head, “Neon Signs,” “Voodoo,” and “Lockdown.” I don’t see their tour dates coming anywhere near Indiana, so I highly recommend you check out their music and take the time to check out their website at www.riesbrothers.com.
The Ries Brothers
The main attraction
G. Love has been playing as a profession for over twenty years and in previous interviews he had discussed leaving Philadelphia to work on music in Boston, where he got a “busker license.” He took his guitar, harmonica, catalogue of songs, and I assume a hat to Boston to work the city. After honing his craft and later meeting up with the members of Special Sauce he took to the clubs of Boston, like Plough and Stars in Cambridge, and is now touring the world. I don’t think he’s playing for $150 and three pitchers of beer, but watching the joy in which he plays I think he might. The ability to go from playing Bukka White style on the guitar while rapping his lyrics live the Phife Dog or Q-Tip are what really set him apart from any other musicians.
I’ve see G. Love & Special Sauce play a few times and the term “playing in the pocket” has a whole new meaning when he is on stage with them, but to see him playing solo to maybe 100 folks his smile seemed twice as wide. This setting looks like he’s in “his element,” along with his white Gretsch Rancher, National Steel Guitar, slide and harmonica. I must admit I was hoping to see him play his signature Airline 59 by Eastwood Guitar. Oh well. As I said earlier The Ries Brothers got the crowd started and G. Love came in for the kill. He started with the Gretsch Rancher and his slide for a short instrument to the crowd going and went seamlessly into a cover of Canned Heat’s “Going Up The Country.”
It was ON!
His hour set included the “Cape Cod Winter Blues” from his album “Coming Home for Christmas” on a warm full moon July evening and for those who have ever spent any time on Cape Cod could relate to the lyrics. G. Love has said that his songs are very autobiographical and his lyrics would have been just as humorous if he used them as part of a stand up act. His set list included standards “Back to Boston,” “Sunshine,” “Hoops,” and “Booty Call.” It was also cool to see him bust out the steel guitar as all blues players need to have this as part of their rotation.
Another one of his signature set standards is to bring others on stage with him, and this night was no exception. His son Aiden was at this show and celebrated his 17th birthday by joining his father on stage and played drums. I don’t know who was more excited to be on stage, but we know we were witnessing some this special. Once again, the smile on G. Love’s face was ear to ear. Later on in the set The Ries Brothers took the stage with G. Love.
G. Love will be playing some more in New England and will them be touring in Europe later in the year. G. Love is all over social media and there is easy access to all his songs on iTunes and SoundCloud, but if you have a record player I recommend his vinyl.