There's just something about G. Love & Special Sauce that appeals to concertgoers in the Bend music scene. The last couple times Garrett "G. Love" Dutton and his crew visited Bend, they packed the Domino Room and inspired a sweaty, hip-hop and blues-influenced dance party. I usually like to get as close as possible, but back in 2012, I had a great vantage point from the south booth, which was purely coincidental and awesome.
When I talked to Dutton, he was drinking an ice cold beer at a little cafe in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. He'd spent the morning surfing and after finishing his cold beverage planned to take a nap before his show.
"For me, the big payoffs are just to be on stage and get to perform and play my songs and do what I love," Dutton says. "That's the payoff. That's the love. The work is the traveling and being away from home, but the music and the journey, like the journey of writing and making a record and physically journeying around the world, it's all something I really love. And honestly, the more I do it, the more I love it."
You wouldn't guess it from Dutton's thick Philly accent, but G. Love & Special Sauce formed in 1993 at a bar in Boston, Mass. Since then, Dutton has written, recorded and toured extensively. G. Love & Special Sauce gained traction in the music community by blending rock, hip-hop and blues to create a genre-defying mix of danceable jams. Hits including "Cold Beverage," "Baby Got Sauce" and the Paul Simon cover "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" have since become engrained in the musical landscape.
"When I hear friends of mine who are musicians say, 'Man I'm so sick of playing the hits,' I honestly never feel like that," Dutton says. "As far as playing the hits, I love to play my hits. It makes me smile every time I play them because to me they're just songs like every other song I wrote. But then I see the reaction and how happy they make certain people or they make the people dance harder to the stuff they really know and love. I just get a kick out of it."
G. Love & Special Sauce recorded two full-length LPs in the last five years. Right now, Dutton's excited about a new project he's been working on with Donovan Frankenreiter and Cisco Adler called Jamtown.
"The music we've made is really amazing," Dutton says. "We have an EP coming out in June. It's just something, you keep plugging away, you keep writing and recording and every once in awhile you really hit gold. We really did that on this project."
The three musicians got together and wrote 10 songs in as many days, singing harmonies and watching their voices blend into a three-part sound that elevated the songs. Jamtown hits the road this summer, joining Jack Johnson on select dates, with a full tour in the works for the fall and a full-length LP in 2018.
As for those craving new tunes from G. Love & Special Sauce, you'll have to wait until 2019. The band plans to record in the fall of 2018 with legendary blues musician Keb Mo at the helm as producer. Sounds like it'll be worth the wait.
G. Love & Special Sauce
Fri., June 23. 6pm.
Century Center Courtyard
70 SW Century Dr., Bend.
$35 at Bendticket.com.