Garrett Dutton is a busy man on and off the road, and he intends to keep it that way. Better known to the music world as G. Love with his band Special Sauce, the Philadelphia born guitarist, harmonic player, and singer has consistently been touring and recording music for the past two decades.
Now calling Boston his home, the eclectic Love recently became a new father with his girlfriend, model Kelsey Vogelzang. After returning from their first family vacation, I caught up with Love as he prepares for a new tour, including Florida dates in early 2017.
Void: I saw on Instagram you were with family in Tavarua, a small island off the coast of Fiji. How did you end up there?
Love: Yeah it’s a cool place, really small. It’s probably the size of one city block. If you saw Tom Hank’s movie Castaway, those are the waves we were riding.
Void: Speaking of waves, you were also hanging out with legendary surf king Kelly Slater. Are you guys close friends?
Love: He’s a cool dude. I first met Jack Johnson in 1997 when he was making music for Kelly’s surf films. We all became close friends and I’ve met a lot of professional surfers over the years. I’ve been friends with Kelly for years and he’s invited me to cool places to play music and surf.
Void: Do you ask Slater for tips out in the ocean? He’s obviously one of the best around.
Love: Totally! He gave me some tips the other day. He said “You won’t catch any waves if you don’t paddle faster (laughs).”
Void: Looking at your new tour dates, there’s a string of shows in Hawaii. Is that like a mini-vacation on its own?
Love: Here’s the thing, I started doing these vacation gigs a long time ago. I love to play and equally love to travel and be by the beach, so why shouldn’t I go to Costa Rica and Hawaii? Play music, surf and make some people happy.
Void: I was in Maui once driving up the coast listening to your album, The Electric Mile, it brings back good memories. Do you have moments where the music or soundtrack takes you back to a certain time in you life?
Love: Yeah man, there’s always a good song or album in your buddies car during road trips. I remember back in the day one summer rocking to the Steve Miller Band, Greatest Hits.
Void: You have a bunch of solo dates on this new tour, and others with your band Special Sauce. What differentiates the style playing by your self versus the full ensemble?
Love: That’s a good question. I can play the same songs with both sets and they each have a different vibe. The band is a presentation of our trio, which is Jimmy “Jazz” Prescott on bass, Jeffrey Clemens on drums and me on guitar, harmonica and vocals. It’s that chemistry, and showcasing of the musicians and songs. It’s a serious musical endeavor.
When I’m doing my acoustic set it’s me and my guitar, as a one man show which is how I originally started. I feel like the strength of everything I do live comes from that. I’m a different person, telling a lot more stories and improvise during solo shows. The acoustic set tends to tell a story in my mind…usually it starts with delta blues and folk songs, then more of urban blues and hip-hop.
Void: Besides your hometown of Philadelphia, what’s your favorite city to play in?
Love: Oh man, I don’t care where I am or if I’m playing for two people or a million, I just care that the vibe is dope. That can be on a street corner, a shitty bar or the main stage at Bonaroo. It’s all about the vibe in the crowd and feeling that pulse.
Void: I’d like your take on social media. With so many platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., and you started your career before these existed how do you feel about them?
Love: Being able to connect with my fans is a plus. Certainly interacting with fans on Twitter and Instagram are positive and I use it to connect with fans, letting them know where you can find us on tour. Also it’s a way to show people “This is who I am, this is me, this is my family.” With the election recently I expressed my views on socials and a lot of people unfollowed me, and I had to block people who were saying out of line shit on my page.
One thing I heard a lot was, “I like your music, I don’t care to hear your view” or “You should stick to playing the blues, not dabbling into politics and what not.” I find that incredibly narrow minded that people would say that to me. They’re missing entirely who I am as a person and the music that I play.
I think social media is a great platform for artists to get their true voice out there and that’s what the consumer wants. They want to see transparency and build a bond.
Void: Your most recent record, Love Saves The Day, was released in 2015. It’s well done and easy listening. There’s a handful of interesting collaborations that I don’t think you would have made in the past, including Ozomatli, DJ Logic, and Citizen Cope. How did these tracks come about?
Love: The challenge is to continually find new ways to get people excited for a record or an established artist like myself. The story for this record (LSTD) is remembering the great sounds we made on Sugar and honed in on what the new era of hip-hop blues is. We wanted to explore that deeper and work with a bunch of great people.
Void: While on this upcoming tour will you be writing new songs or do you wait to get in studio with the guys?
Love: Right now I’m working on a collaboration record with Donovan Frankenreighter and Cisco Adler. This record is totally a departure from the last three records put out on Brushfire Records. This one is called Jam Town, it’s a jangly, beach, super group record. That’s all I can say about it right now. It’s a new thing with us and other guests.
Me and the Special Sauce have put out two records and two EP’s over the last four years. I feel like we’ve gotten a lot off our chests and now we’re focusing on touring. I have begun writing the next G Love hip-hop record, and I really want it to sound more updated with the times.
Void: Speaking of hip-hop, are you a fan of A Tribe Called Quest, and have you heard their new album?
Love: Yes, I’m a huge fan of ATCQ! We toured with them a lot in the 90’s and Q-Tip was like a big bro. Phife Dawg was kind of a shy guy and I was super star struck, which I regret now that he’s passed, so we never got to connect. Q-Tip and I definitely had a cool vibe and I cherish that time together. The new record is great.
Void: Is there a dream project you’ve thought about making, perhaps with a rapper or musician? Who would that feature be?
Love: Oh man that’s funny; I’ve gotten to hang with Jack White a bunch over the years and he was definitely influenced by our thing. He’s from Detroit and so is Kid Rock. The first time we played in Pontiac, Michigan there was a bunch of cool cats in the crowd including them, along with Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys. I’d love to work with Dan and Jack White even though those two guys seem to hate each other (laughs).