Philadelphia-based alternative hip-hop band G. Love & Special Sauce will take the stage at The State Theatre on Sept. 1 .
The band’s frontman and namesake, G. Love (real name Garrett Dutton), started writing songs early and playing guitar even earlier.
“I liked guitar OK. I played from when I was 8 years old, and then when I was about 13 it actually started sounding good,” Love said, laughing. “But when I was 15 I started writing songs, and that’s the point where it really started speaking to me. It was a beautiful thing. I really found a deep passion, and then that became my life’s passion and work.”
From that point, Love began performing as a street musician in Philadelphia.
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“Once I had the dream that ‘I want to play music,’ and I found I had something to say after finding my voice as a person through songwriting,” Love said. “Then I said, ‘this is all I want to do in my life.’ I said that out loud at 16 or 17.”
Love went to college for a year in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
“It was a beautiful place with great musicians, but I couldn’t really find regular musicians to make a band with,” he said. “Everyone was really too good for what I was doing, which was kind of simple blues-based but complex in its own way. ... These people were playing Phish and Stevie Wonder, and they weren’t interested in what I was doing.”
The first tastes of professional musicianship would find Love shipping up to Boston, where he was able to get a permit to play on the streets, in the summer of 1992. By the fall, he started to get his first gigs and remembers playing for an empty room, except for the other band, the bartender, sound guy, cocktail waitress and her boyfriend — a drummer who was looking through help wanted ads.
“After my show, he comes up to me and says, ‘hey that was good. I’m a drummer.’ So then we talked all night and later got a couple gigs,” Love said. “Every gig would lead to another gig. The first few were just drums and guitar, but then we got ‘Jimi Jazz’ and that really firmed up our sound. Then, we were just off to the races. We started gaining popularity in Boston. We went from having no one in the club to lines down the block.”
The band would continually gain popularity for years, spurring them on to release eight studio albums and several live and compilation recordings. Their latest release, “Love Saves the Day,” is a spiritual follow up to the band’s previous release, “Sugar.”
“This record and the one before it go hand in hand,” Love said. “We kind of reconnected with our original concept, which is the hip-hop/blues sound. Although, this time I think we did it quite literally; more so than before.
“We were really a lot more literal with our approach to the music and lyrics this time. I think it was super successful for us and really cool. ‘Sugar’ was kind of like us stumbling on what we wanted like, ‘oh, OK, it’s like this, this is what we want.’ For this new one, it was more like we knew what we wanted to do from ‘Sugar’ and just kept pushing it. We just kept pushing that flavor.”
Last winter, the band toured in support of “Love Saves the Day,” but The State Theatre show will see the band play music from all eras of its tenure.
“This tour is more like anything goes, so we’re going to play from all of our records,” Love said. “We have some freestyles, some covers, some blues and of course playing the hits. We’re doing a bit of a greatest hits thing right now. It’s my goal to really mix it up and flip the sets a lot and take some requests. We’re going to throw it down — a hot, sweaty mess.”
Love adores his time on the road, but says he gets more music written in his solo time. He had two weeks off this summer when a tour with Blues Traveler was postponed. He spent the time at his parents house in Cape Cod.
“During my time off from touring, I actually got to play a lot of music, and that sounds kind of weird but when you’re on the road — yeah you’re playing every night, but you’re playing in front of a crowd with your band. Songwriting is a process that requires plenty of time alone to come up with ideas, explore different song ideas, explore musical concepts, etc.,” he said.
Love promises that anyone who comes out to the show at The State Theatre will have a good time.
“We give 150 percent every night on stage. It’s our job to make people happy, and that’s what we love to do,” Love said. “We know everyone works hard and has a lot of choices for entertainment, so we take having a good time very seriously.”
IF YOU GO
- What: G. Love & Special Sauce
- When: 8 p.m. Sept. 1
- Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
- Info: www.thestatetheatre.org