I remember the first time I saw G Love and Special Sauce back in 1994. Their self-titled debut album had just dropped, they were getting a lot of good press and the streets were hungry for what they were laying down. We managed to get tickets to catch their show at the American Legion Hall on Highland, just south of the Hollywood Bowl.
After getting over my initial shock at what a broad spectrum of Angeleno’s had shown up for the show, and being a little pissed that my key chain pocket knife had been confiscated at the door, the band pretty much proceeded to blow my mind. I’ve seen a lot of shows in my day…and only a very few rank up there in the “Freakin’ Amazing” category…but this was one of them. The energy in the room that night was unparallelled.
I got on the horn the next morning to alert my friends in the Bay Area of what was coming, exclaiming:
“G Love is coming!!! Get tickets now!!!”
They had no idea what I was talking about, or who G Love was…but I gave them my personal musical guarantee (I don’t give that out very often) that their money and time would be well spent… after which, they all agreed that I had been correct on all counts.
Because G Love puts on a helluva show.
The band consists of G Love, (a Philadelphia native whose real name is Garrett Dutton III) on harmonica, vocals and guitar; Jimmy “Jazz” Prescott on stand up bass, and Jeffrey “Houseman” Clemens on drums. Their sound hovers in a twilight area where blues, hip hop, folk and jazz all combine into an entirely new animal. And after their audacious debut, it was thought they might be the second coming.
The following year, the band had gone to New Orleans to record the follow up album titled “Coast to Coast Motel,” and when it was released it fell flat.
I was puzzled…and confused.
I would read the bad reviews, go back and listen to the album again. Were they listening to the same album I was? What the hell was going on? Where did my drink go? A few people liked the LP, but it seemed to get no press. I would drop it at parties and people loved it, but none seemed to know about it. It made no sense that an album this good had pretty much gone unnoticed. WTF?!?
Even more confusing was the almost complete absense of any of these songs from G Love’s live show. I collected his live tapes for a while and you were hard pressed to find any “Coast to Coast” material on any of them. Did he really want to sweep this under the rug? I never got to ask him.
The band had matured in sound, pulling more from New Orleans funk and folk roots while still retaining their original hybrid aesthetic. The songs like ‘Kiss and Tell,’ ‘Soda Pop’ and ‘Sweet Sugar Mama’ are literally dripping with soul and a laid back good time funk that catches you off guard. And the New Orleans vibe pours out so think, you’d think you were at Mardi Gras.
Once again, the critics missed the boat on this one.
But now you don’t have to.