‘Shake it with your baby’ and G. Love
February 22, 2012
It’s been a busy year for Garrett Dutton, who is better known as the Philadelphia born and bred G. Love. He released a reinvigorating, blues-inspired album, “Fixin’ to Die,” began work on a second album and last spring even stopped in Tahoe.
He’s back again this week with his trio, G. Love and Special Sauce, playing Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room in between stops in San Francisco and Arcata, touring behind his most recent record, which even after a year, is still invigorating for the 39-year-old musician.
“‘Fixin’ to Die’ is real return to my roots as a blues player and a coffee shop musician. Our goal was to really do something honest and raw and timeless,” he said in a phone interview with Lake Tahoe Action. “Just make a really honest recording. This is just three dudes in a room playing music, you know what I mean? And this is going down right now.
“It was really refreshing for me to get back to recording that way. And I thought we had a really successful session and I’m happy to bring it back to those raw roots, not trying to be anybody else but myself,” he added. “I come off best on a more raw recording. I’m not some opera singer, and I’m not top 40, so let’s make a recording that people can feel.”
His “‘Fixin'” roots will extend into his next album, which will linger in blues sounds and raw execution as he records this spring for a tentative January 2013 release.
“‘Fixin’ to Die’ was really great for me because of the success we had with this record – especially musically – just giving me the confidence to just do it like that. Oh thank God I can just go in and record and put the mics off and we don’t have to worry about isolation and overdubs and everything like that,” he said. “Let’s just go in and basically play some rock ‘n’ roll or play some blues or whatever the songs are going to be. Just let them be what they are.
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“My next record will definitely be kind of a continuation of that kind of production and musical process,” he said. “I think it’s definitely, just reconnecting with the blues, like that’s where I’m at now, so I think you’ll continue to see just a very bluesy approach. Although I do feel like we’re going to incorporate, bring back some more elements of hip-hop as we had in previous records.”
It’s been about two decades since Dutton has embarked into music with his seven string and harmonica, and for the past year has been sharing his experiences and industry tips on a blog for guitarworld.com.
“I’ve been in the game now for 20 years. I went from a street musician to a major-label recording artist to an independent recording artist and have toured all around the world and, because of the level of success I have achieved or have not achieved, I have certain experiences in the music business. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs and I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years. I’ve made a lot of successes as well. So it’s like I’m a pretty good person to sound out about stuff about this business and I have a lot of knowledge about it,” Dutton said. “It’s interesting to me, it’s interesting to write about, and it’s interesting to share that kind of knowledge with some younger generations of musicians that are in the come up, hopefully I can help people not make some of the mistakes I’ve made.
His advice: Play shows and play them well. Wisdom he and his band live by.
“These days there’s no record deals to be had and no one buys records, so the only way you’re going to make money, is the old-fashioned way really, is by getting out and touring, and that’s what we do and that’s why we put so much emphasis on our live show and making it better and better every day,” he said. “We’ve been doing it for 20 years, but nowadays it’s more and more important than ever to make sure every night is an amazing show. Some nights you’re tired, some nights you get dumped by your girlfriend, or your dog died or whatever it could be, there’s no business like show business. You got to put the show on, you got to give it everything you got.
“That’s one thing I’m proud of, if anybody wants to say anything about us, I just hope they would say, ‘They were an amazing live band and they made some great records, but their live show was one of the best’ they’ve ever seen.”
To get to that plateau, G. Love says that it takes more than a casual dedication to your instrument.
“If more musicians looked at music like a sport, they’d probably be a lot better, because athletes just don’t show up at the race. They train month to month to prepare for the race, so that when the whistles blows they’re ready to win the race and put forth their best effort,” he said. “And that’s kind of the head space I’m trying to be with my music. You know I like to party and my show is a party, and when I go out I want to give these people a reason to party, I’m going to bring the energy, I’m going to bring the heat. Make sure I am playing, really technically ready to go, my voice is warmed up – damn I’m ready to hit it.”
After years of playing hundreds of shows and making 15 albums, Dutton is driven by one thing: music.
“The music does. That’s the only thing that can do it. You can’t do it for the money. You can do it to try and get girls but eventually you’re going to realize you’re not going to want a different girl every night. You’re gonna want to have one girl at home or with you on the road, one person that you love and that’s what I have,” he said. “Music is like the never-ending journey. You’re never going to master it. You’re never going to write the perfect song, you’re never going to give the perfect performance because it is such a human thing. And unlike a sports game you can’t never tell if you win or lose, you know you can feel great or you can feel like (crap), but someone else is gonna feel completely opposite about your performance, guaranteed.”
You can expect to hear new G. Love and Special Sauce songs when he visits the South Shore, but you’ll also hear all the good stuff from “Fixin’ to Die” to the 1999 self-titled album to the 2006 Brushfire Records release, “Lemonade.”
“Like our show right now is kind of a greatest hits show and we’re really focusing our big songs from our catalog and then we intersperse that with some really rare and kind of obscure blues tunes as well as some B-sides for people that are real hard-core fans that know a lot of stuff that not everybody else knows,” Dutton said. “It’s a great show to see a trio, and it’s a great show to see a real musical interaction that’s happening right before your eyes and really kind of tune into that … and also to just hear some great songs and shake it with your baby.”
Scott H. Biram will open the show, which has an early start at 7 p.m. Saturday in Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room.