G. Love & Special Sauce
Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo
Aug. 6, 9 p.m.
$27.50 adv, $30 day of show
bellsbeer.com, (269) 382-2332
People often say no music is truly original. That’s probably true given that songwriters openly cite their musical influences while occasionally suing each other for copyright infringement.
Garrett Dutton, better known as G. Love, understands nobody is reinventing the harmonious wheel.
“Music is not something you can really own,” Dutton said. “The biggest thing is you have to take whatever you learn from wherever you get it from and make it into your own words and your own style. You only need one chord or one string as long as you have something to say.”
Growing up in Philadelphia, Dutton, 42, was exposed to a wide variety of musical styles that contributed to the G. Love & Special Sauce sound. Everyone from Run DMC and the Beastie Boys to Bob Dylan and Bo Diddley shaped his future. While those iconic acts first hit the ears of Dutton many years ago, all still inform the music he plays today.
But it wasn’t just the big-named bands that provided stimuli for his signature brand of playfully poppy yet sloppy alt-blues tunes. “I grew up right downtown,” Dutton said. “There were all types of people there: homeboys, skateboarders, rich people, poor people, gangs and families. It was a real melting pot of cultural forces.”
The band’s 2014 album Sugar not only brought back the original trio after eight years apart, it also rekindled the raw, jam-session style, bluesy hip-hop flavor that was indicative of the group’s debut album from 20 years back. In June the band also dropped some previously unreleased tracks from those sessions on the Sweet ‘N Blues EP.
“We had a bunch of leftover tracks that were pretty hot,” Dutton said. “When you make a record you usually cut more than you can put on a record or should put on a record. But after time goes by you’re like, ‘Why didn’t we put that on the record?’ It was a great chance to get some of those tracks out.”
The Sugar sessions were unique, the band worked with a couple of different producers — each approached the recording process differently. And while Dutton admits no method is necessarily better than another, he typically prefers to do it the old fashioned way: Live. He said it’s not about a capturing a perfectly clean track.
“I don’t want my shit to be polished,” he said. “I don’t care about radio-friendly.”
“(Recording live) you have to be connected physically and emotionally and capture the moment of the music,” he added. “We’ve had the most success when we do it live and have our shit together — when we don’t break it down and everyone’s committed to each other’s performances in the studio.”