G. Love and Special Sauce play Brooklyn Bowl in New York on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at House of Blues in Boston on Friday, Feb. 14 and at Theatre of Living Arts in Philly on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15-16. It’s been 20 years since G. Love and Special Sauce got their start busking up subway stops and trying their hand at local taverns. After pioneering their signature hip-hop/blues sound and releasing their debut self-titled record, G. Love moved to Philly, then back to Boston, shook things up, changed the names, changed the game, but now he’s going back to his roots.
For the first time in eight years, G. Love and Special Sauce are performing and recording as their original trifecta.
“We’re going to do two sets in this show,” says Garrett Dutton (aka G. Love), “The first set we’re going to play the debut record from start to finish, but the second set we’re going to preview our new record, ‘Sugar,’ and mix it up with some other good stuff. It should be a real good show going from really defined and then letting it all hang out.”
“Sugar,” set for release April 22 on Jack Johnson’s Brushfire label brings G. Love and the original Special Sauce back in the studio, reviving the old magic. In ways it’s back to basics, but with two decades of growing both musically and personally, there’s an undeniable maturity that makes its way into the music. “It’s definitely a return to the hip-hop/blues. It’s a knock-back to the original concept. I shouldn’t say concept because it just kind of happened, it wasn’t thought up. It’s the original feeling of the band as well as pushing forward and digging deeper.”
Featuring special guests ranging from Merry Clayton, renowned backing vocalist for the Rolling Stones (“20 feet from Stardom”), David Hidalgo (guitarist of Los Lobos), Ben Harper and Eric Krasno (Soulive), the record touches on relationships, but ascends through its authentic tales of the wear and tear on the life of a traveling performer. There’s slightly less machismo, more soul, but all love.
“It’s funny because originally I was making this heartbreak record of a failed relationship that I was in,” says Dutton. “Then all of these songs had that notion of having the life of a musician — the struggle to come up, the struggle to stay up, and to me that was an interesting thing, and a real thing that I could connect with. That’s my life. Over the years you see the dedication and the hustle that it takes just to stay out there doing this thing. Sure it’s fun to sing about and write about, but the road is what it is. You’re away from home; you’re away from your family. It wears you out in every way. All of those sentiments of what it takes to be a musician are all in there. In that sense, it is really biographical.”
"Got sauce" G. Love is touring through Metro's markets right around Valentine's Day, and since his music can be so smooth, we asked Dutton his advice for this Hallmark holiday. "It’s a hard night for the dudes. You know, we gotta try and please our women. I guess the main thing is to be with the one you like, the one you have a crush on or the one that you love and try to value the important things and not to necessarily have the perfect night. There are a couple ways you can win. You can take your girl to a dinner at a place she likes to go and surprise her with that. Girls always like to have a present and girls like to have chocolate on that day. Also, getting her something shiny always works, but if you definitely wanna have a sure-shot, well if you’re not coming to the show, you could have a nice quiet night at home and cook dinner or something like that. That’s always something special."