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Down and Dirty with G. Love: On John Lee Hooker

Down and Dirty with G. Love: On John Lee Hooker

I think it was John Lee Hooker himself who called his blues "the deepest blues." I wholeheartedly agree.

This week's Down and Dirty is going to focus on the man who is quite possibly the most emotionally powerful and original bluesman, John Lee Hooker.

John Lee's approach to guitar is often called primitive, and I think it's a good description. I think if you were to ask JLH what the most important aspect of his playing was, he would say the beat. In many of his recordings you can hear that foot tapping while his strumming hand pounds out the groove. Whether he is playing slow or fast, strong or soft, you can really feel one of the deepest pockets in music. The groove becomes, in fact, way more important than anything else.

I say this because, in any given song he approaches, once Hooker has established the groove, it's as if anything goes. His blues is free form. He does not follow a set chord progression or a 12-bar blues pattern. He jumps bars, he adds bars, he plays rhythms, he plays leads, he plays melodies and he does everything only when he decides it's time. His blues is very emotionally driven, and it feels to me that he is free-styling, improvising and following his heart and soul rather than an arrangement or even written lyrics on most of his recordings.


As a guitar player, he is almost always consistently overlooked. But in my mind, he is the most original and stylistic player ever. It's unbelievable. His runs are simple, he is completely unorthodox. In the past blogs I've consistently talked about being original, that's where John Lee is at, pure originality and passion. That is the deepest blues. For more on John lee Hooker, head here.

John Lee has been a huge influence of mine over the years. Here's a clip of me taking a stab at Hooker's "Madman Blues." Don't mess with my girl yo!


Dig on John Lee Hooker and you'll be digging on some real down and dirty shit. Keep jamming.

Your friend,
G. Love

G. Love, aka Garrett Dutton, has been the front man and founder of the alternative hip-hop blues group G. Love & Special Sauce since their inception in 1993. Widely known for his upbeat hits "Cold Beverage," "Baby's Got Sauce" and "Hot Cookin'," G. Love returned to his blues and country roots on his latest release, Fixin' To Die (Amazon, iTunes), produced by Scott and Seth Avett. A road dog if one ever existed, G. Love performs roughly 125 shows a year all over the world including Australia, Japan, Brazil, UK, Canada and the U.S. G. Love teamed up with Gretsch to create his own signature model, the Gretsch G. Love Signature Electromatic Corvette, which features a pair of TV Jones® Power'Tron™ pickups, deluxe mini-precision tuners and a cool Phili-green color scheme with competition stripe that would make ANYONE from Philadelphia proud! Check it out here.



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