When Philadelphia’s Garrett Dutton, better known as G-Love, first burst onto the mainstream’s radar in the mid-1990s, he was an anomaly — a fun loving bluesman who could rap just as well as he could hum into a harmonica, all while luxuriating in a cooler of laid-back vibes destined to forever be on rotation at barbecues and back-yard parties across the country.
On Nov. 5, the State Theatre will play host to a party of its own as G-Love and the Special Sauce come to State College to perform hits and fan favorites from their two-decade spanning career.
“It should be a fun-filled couple of weeks on the road,” G-Love said about his upcoming tour. “I just played out there (in September) for the Rock the Vote concert with Jack Johnson ... and I just got such a warm response. I’m excited for the people that got to see my solo acoustic performance there and who get to come back and see me rock with the band. This show will be a little more funky and it should be a lot of fun.”
Although he’s released four solo records and 11 others (including a “Best Of” in 2002) with his full-band, Special Sauce, G-Love’s star always shines brightest when he’s performing live.
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“The goal is to really make a connection with the people that you’re spending time with,” G-Love said. “When we’re out doing the show we want to really connect with those people and bring the things that they love about us right back with them and we want to make that concert venue like a living room. Even if it’s a big show, we always want to make it feel like an intimate experience where everyone’s involved and getting to know each other and that’s the recipe for a good show.”
Then again, in order to provide the ingredients required to concoct that recipe (or dare I say, a special sauce), there has to be some sort recorded bedrock which can be found via the albums the band continues to write, record and release.
“My last record kind of went back to the blues and the new record is going to return to the original style, with the hip-hop blues,” G-Love said of last year’s “Fixin’ to Die” as well as the album that he’s currently working on. “But I think we’re at our best when it’s really raw and off-the-cuff with not too much production. So I think recording wise, we’re going to keep it raw and really make it something special.”
“I started out playing the Delta blues and I grew up listening to hiphop, like Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C, and rap was always in me, but I never really considered doing it,” G-Love said. “One night, when I was a street musician in Philly, I was playing out by South Street and I was sitting on this guitar riff and I just started rapping the lyrics to this old Eric B. and Rakim tune called ‘Paid in Full’ over it. ... That was a real musical epiphany and I thought, ‘Man, I’m like the only white boy sitting on the street with an acoustic guitar rapping over it,’ and this was ’91 and no one was really doing that at the time.”
G-Love’s rawness and uniqueness no doubt lay claim to having been molded and influenced by his hometown Philadelphia, where he is still considered to be a patron saint of sorts.
“I think Philly’s always got a bit of a stigma because it’s in the shadow of New York, but there’s
obviously going to be groundbreaking music that comes out of Philly,” G-Love said. “There’s always been a lot of interesting music and I always say it’s something in the water.”