G. Love On Turning His Son From His 4-Year-Old Roadie To His 14-Year-Old Drummer

Family Albums, produced with our partners at Spotify, features influential musicians revealing the songs that they rely on to get their own kids dancing, sleeping, and as fired up about music as they are.

It’s been more than 20 years since G. Love and Special Sauce bridged the gap between hip hop, blues, and jam bands with their self-titled classic first album (remember “Cold Beverage?”), and G. Love has spent 14 of those years raising a son with chops of his own. Primarily a drummer, Aiden occasionally joins G. Love on stage under the moniker of “Hot Sauce,” which is impressive when you consider Aiden’s formal music education began while sitting on his shoulders as G. Love tried unsuccessfully to get Aiden to preschool on time.

On The Songs You Sing To A Toddler
“My dad used to sing to me ‘Joy To The World‘ by 3 Dog Night, so I sang that to my kid, too. He used to sing to me ‘Amazing Grace,’ which I sang to Aiden. But I used to make up songs for him, too. It’s funny, when you’re in the thralls of that, parenting an infant or a toddler, your mind always goes where the kid’s mind goes, so you wind up coming up with silly kids’ tunes about, like … I have a problem being punctual. So, I’d have him on my shoulders, running into preschool, singing, “On my way to school / Daddy’s running late!” I had all these jams I’d sing him — just singsongy tunes that have to do with whatever you’re doing in everyday life, whether it’s potty training or dinner time or just walking down the street.”

On Starting Them Young
“When he was a little kid he always wanted to get his hands on the guitar or the harmonica. I was recording a song with Donovan Frankenreiter for his first album and I had Aiden and we had to go to Hawaii for a few days. That’s a long-ass flight from Philadelphia to Hawaii, and I got this picture of him in the airport in Hawaii, carrying my harmonica briefcase, which is this little tiny briefcase, and a ukelele and he looks like a roadie. But now that’s all transformed to him coming on stage with me and he performs a couple of songs on some nights of the tour. We planted those seeds, just because it was a natural thing to do in our family, and now he’s become a fine musician.”

On Seeing Them “Get” A Song For The First Time
“We improvise a lot when he’s on the drums and I’m on the guitar — the best stuff we come up with is when we’re freely jamming and expressing ourselves. I try to impress that on him, to just feel it and connect with it; no rules, just let it go where it wants to go. But, as far as particular songs go, when he first started playing drums we’d play songs he was working on in his lessons, and one of his favorite was ‘When The Levee Breaks.’ That was a highlight.”

“When he was growing up with me making records, in the car you’re always listening to mixes, non-stop. Especially when we were recording The Hustle, I remember we listened to that over and over again when he was 3, 4 years old and he really got into that. He was in the studio a lot, too, and there’s actually one song, ‘Don’t Drop It,’ where you can hear his voice on the intro. That’s pretty cute.”

On The Masters
“We play a lot of blues at home. We have a record player, so it’s a ritual, right before dinner, ‘Aiden, go pick a record.’ There are hundreds of records, and it’s cool to see him sort through the crates and pick something out for whatever reason and let it spin. Whenever there’s blues playing, I’ll say, ‘Who is this?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘This is Howlin’ Wolf, you can tell from this certain thing in his voice. Here’s Muddy Waters, here’s Robert Johnson.'”

On When They Turn You On To Something New
“A lot of Radiohead‘s stuff, of course I have mad respect for Radiohead, but it’s never really been my thing. I had a tough time kind of grasping what their music is all about. He’s really connected with it, so he plays a lot of Radiohead for me and, because of that, I have a new appreciation for what they do and the intricacy of it.”

On How They Inspire His Own Music
“Kids are free, man. Their minds are free and they’re expressive, unabashedly. They don’t have a filter, they just put out what they’re feeling. I started writing songs when I was 15, and a lot of those tunes I wrote in high school, they’re really pure; no ulterior motive beyond a natural reaction to life. When I hear a teenager writing songs, I’m anxious to hear what they’re coming up with. They’re starting as a musician, playing simple stuff, but the first time you’re playing some simple progression — GCD — you’re getting that enthusiasm of discovering these 3 famous chords that everyone uses for the first time. And, it’s like, ‘Whoa! That’s awesome!’ That’s all music needs to achieve. It needs to make you go, ‘Whoa! That’s awesome!”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fsl7h4pSRvY expand=1]

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