Strumming a guitar on a bustling Philadelphia street corner hardly seems like the way to spark a record deal (and an enormous fanbase), but that’s exactly how G. Love emerged to become the soulful, inspiring artist he is today.
Born in 1972, Garret “G. Love” Dutton was only eight years old when he first picked up a guitar. The young musician was inspired by the sounds of Bob Dylan and John Hammond, Jr. and begins writing his own music in ninth grade. He fine-tuned his sound by taking his music to the streets of Philly, where he would play for anyone willing to listen.
G. Love moved to Boston in 1992 to pursue his music career. He played solo acoustic sets at coffee shops around the city when he met drummer Jeffery “Houseman” Clemens and Jim “Jimi Jazz” Prescott, presently known as G. Love’s supporting band, Special Sauce.
“We just started gigging around town, and one gig led to another,” G. Love said. “Another gig led to another opportunity.”
The group of musicians played at several major festivals across the Northeast, and it wasn’t long before OKeh records, a roots-oriented division of Epic, came calling.
“We had a deal, a record deal, like nine months after putting a band together.” G. Love said. “It was pretty cool.”
The band released its self-titled debut, G. Love and Special Sauce, in May 1994. The album was recorded live and has since sold 500,000 copies around the world.
The group is widely known for its distinct hip-hop and blues sounds, but its music has grown to incorporate the sounds of country tunes, rock-steady songs and reggae jams. These are the elements that add a special flavor to the band’s music.
“I think that you can always tell it’s just us from our approach to just playing music in general,” G. Love said.
His music has a personal feel because Love writes songs about things he’s lived through. His songs are inspired by things on the streets and in his head.
G. Love said he views every opportunity as a golden one. At first he was just happy to be able to play music, but he said now it’s more about conveying a message to the world and performing for an audience.
“I think I’ve learned to be conscious about what I’m trying to do,” he said. “That kind of discipline also gives me more creative freedom in that realm that I decide on.”
Even after a decade of making music, G. Love and the Special Sauce is still going strong. This summer, the band hopes to tour with the Marleys as well as Jack Johnson.
The group is also working on putting out another album, G. Love: The Hustle. The album is tentatively due out this summer. The band hasn’t put out an album in several years, and G. Love said he is looking forward to everything this year has to offer.
G. Love is playing at Jannus Landing Friday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25.