Interview: Love Stories: G. Love stirs up Hilton Head

gloveIsland Packet — About 15 years ago, G. Love (Garrett Dutton, to his family) found the right mixture for his Special Sauce, and it hasn’t needed a whole lot of tweaking since.

Sure, these days it’s a little bluesier than it used to be, a little more indebted to Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt than the easy-rolling hip-hop that he first began weaving with loose groove and boogie harmonica on the streets of Philly in the mid 1990s. But it’s also sunnier — his most recent albums, last year’s “Superhero Brother” and 2007’s “Lemonade” — were laid-back, barefoot-style records, due likely to his affiliation with hammock-rock all-star Jack Johnson’s Brushfire label in 2004.

G. Love and Special Sauce — which includes Jeffrey “Houseman” Clemens on drums, Timo Shanko on bass and Mark Boyce on keyboards — perform at 9 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Head Island’s Shoreline Ballroom in one of those increasing shows-that-don’t-come-around-here-much. Recent weeks found Mr. Love on vocal rest due to doctor’s orders, but he was able to shoot some answers back via e-mail last week.

• G. Love and Special Sauce – Recipe (live).mp3

Question. Do you guys have any history with the island?
Answer. I have been all over this country so many times, but I’m sorry to say I have never been to Hilton Head. I’m looking forward to the chance  to come play for y’all.

Q. “Superhero Brother” is a pretty sunny record (as was “Lemonade,” come to think of it), even with its occasional detours into darker social issues. Was that by design?
A. I wanted to challenge myself on “Superhero Brother.”  The record was made the year leading into the presidential election, and the title track is a real tongue-in-cheek tune about saving the world with my old guitar.

Q. How do you marry that kind of vibe with what’s essentially still a grounding in old country-blues?
A. I’ve spent a lot of time learning and emulating the Delta blues of Robert Johnson, Fred McDowell, Big Bill Broonzy and so many others. Whenever I’m in need of inspiration I go to my records and take a trip into the minds and playing of the legends. The music is in me.  I’m a sponge. I absorb all I can and then, when its ready, I just got to squeeze it and the music comes pouring out.

Q. You’ve been doing this for nearly 15 years; where do you find new ideas come from at this stage?
A. New ideas just come from experiencing life. Most of the good stuff just comes when I’m freestyling and feeling the vibe — late nights!

Q. 15 years is a long time, and it counts for about three times as long in today’s market; what do you think keeps people coming out to shows?
A. We put everything we have into the music every day and night. It always just surprises me to see all those peeps out there every night and I honestly never take it for granted, man. So when I see all those people ready to take a trip with me, I want to give them the ride of their life.

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About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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