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For a band that’s been around since 1992, G. Love & Special Sauce are always more youthful than you would expect. So when frontman Garrett Dutton, or G. Love, stopped by WERS for a solo performance, it came as no surprise that he still brought the lighthearted vibes and summer songs they’re known for even 19 years later. “I want everyone to cut loose and have a good time,” Dutton said. “Think of a great G. Love & Special Sauce show as somewhere between a keg party and a church revival. We have a party crowd… and we like to have the community come together to get involved in the music.”
Dutton started off his live set with “Milk & Sugar,” a track off his new record Fixin’ to Die that almost demands your foot to start stomping along with the beat. The upbeat track had him bending his head as he sang, an infectious tune that urges listeners to get up and find a dancing partner. If it reminds you of The Avett Brothers, then you’ve got a good ear. The two brothers helped produce his new album, bringing “something to the table that brought something really special out of me. We went in there as musicians that were friends and when I left, I felt like the 3rd brother,” Dutton laughed. Since the two groups share a lot of musical influences, specifically the roots of American music, they “learned that music, took it, and put a totally new spin on it.”
The second track he played was the title track off that same album, a song originally written by Bob Dylan. “Fixin’ to Die” had a fingerpicking, harmonica-glossed happiness to it that helped Dutton’s white guitar annunciate despite it’s rich, warm sound. “We went back to the roots of the delta blues and the folk music that influenced me when I was approaching music at a younger age,” Dutton said when asked about the album.The title track serves as a great example of this, even if it’s him stamping his own style on a Dylan song.
“The inspiration really comes to tracing back the music that got me interested in music, which was the delta blues and that feeling of one man and a guitar.” Even though the album is G. Love without the band, most of the tracks include an ensemble of some sort. Dutton finds that the spirit of it based around “all that old time music” like Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan, John Hammond Jr., and Lightening Hopkins. “My solo music and the group stuff have the same vibe. Even records where I came out as just G Love have the band on it anyhow,” he explained.
The last song he performed was “Cold Beverage,” a fan favorite by G. Love & Special Sauce which he used to play on Monday nights in Cambridge “back in the day.” Dutton lives in Boston and got the band together here. “I was a street musician here in the Common, Park Stop, Harvard Square, and so it’s always a special thing when I get to come back and play a big show in Boston. It’s been a real homecoming and that warmth of being out and getting to come home and do it is cool,” he said. His performance tonight is at the House of Blues, an intimate setting compared to the Pavilion stage he normally sings on. “We have 11 records and years of doing this thing, but I still get nervous every night. I don’t know why, but we just care so much about the show and bringing the best we can to the people.”