For a mid-week dance party and some displays of virtuosic harmonica shredding, lovers of funky hip-hop and blues can head over to the Sheridan Opera House Tuesday evening. G. Love and Special Sauce, a Philadelphia-based band, featuring lead singer Garrett Dutton, better known as G. Love, on vocals, guitar and harmonica, will perform songs from their latest album “The Juice.” Tickets start at $45, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and the show starting at 8 p.m. For more information, visit sheridanoperahouse.com.
Influenced by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Run DMC and John Hammond Jr., Dutton began playing the guitar at age of 8 and by his mid-teens was penning his own tunes. By the time he assumed his artist sobriquet G. Love in the early 1990s, he and his bandmates had developed their own signature style, drawing inspiration from the great musicians of the past and adding their own creative expression.
“We call it the hip-hop blues,” G. Love said of the group’s trademark style. “It’s truly a special sauce or stew of all forms of music combined into one tasty secret recipe.”
The seeds for that sauce were first planted when the young Dutton found his mother’s “small but epic” record collection in the basement of their Society Hill home in Philadelphia. Finding treasures such as the Beatles’ “White Album” and a greatest hits record by Bob Dylan awakened a sense of musical inspiration in the budding musician. Before long, he realized that these iconic musicians of eras past had much to teach.
“John Hammond taught me the delta blues, KRS-One taught me protest music,” he said. “Bob Dylan taught me how to make records. From the Beatles, song structure and melody, and from the Beastie Boys I learned how to make funky, super dope and heavy party music.”
G. Love and Special Sauce officially formed in 1993, after G. Love met future bandmates drummer Jeffrey Clemmens and later bassist Jim Prescott while playing music at a local bar. The following year, they released their self-titled studio album, which launched them into a career of extensive touring and producing several records over the years.
Released in January, “The Juice” was written with the intent of providing positive, encouraging music to “empower the folks who are out there fighting the good fight every day.” The group worked with Grammy-winning producers and musicians Keb’ Mo’ and Gary Nicholson on the album, and offer funky, feel-good singles such as “Go Crazy,” featuring Keb’ Mo’.
Maggie Stevens, marketing and PR director for the opera house, seconded his excitement on the band’s recent collaboration.
“‘The Juice’ was produced by Keb' Mo' so we're especially excited to hear some of these new songs,” she said.
While G. Love and Special Sauce have performed in Telluride many times before, G. Love retains a connection to the valley going back much further than his career as a musician. When he was 15, around the time he’d begun writing original songs, he and his family stopped in Telluride on a road trip to do some camping as a family.
“I remember all of the dogs running around the town,” he said, “the most awesome town at the end of the road — one way in and one way out. I never forgot Telluride, and it’s been a thrill to perform here over the years.”
Along with his love for Telluride, over the years G. Love has retained his deep passion for creating music and sharing it with others, rooted in his childhood discovery of the transformational power of music.
“When everything is clicking, music takes me to a very euphoric place which is like no other,” he said. “We look forward to the intimacy of the opera house and a truly creative and expressive musical throw down.”