G. Love and Special Sauce will take their winter tour to New Orleans on Thursday, February 16 when they team up with Yonder Mountain String Band at the Joy Theater. G. Love—whose given name is Garrett Dutton—recently announced that his Jamtown project with Cisco Adler and Donavon Frankenreiter will join Jack Johnson’s for two stops on his summer tour. He’s been using Twitter to voice his support for the efforts of human rights activists, but political activism is nothing new for G. Love.
I caught up with G. Love earlier this week to discuss his love for New Orleans, his Jamtown project, getting political and more.
So you’ll be in New Orleans at the Joy Theater on the 16th. Do you remember any of your first gigs in New Orleans?
Well, shit. Sure. I think the first time we played was at the Howlin’ Wolf. That was in ’94 or ’95 and that was pretty cool. We had years and years of shows at the House of Blues in the Quarter. And then we’ve done our fair share of nights at Tipitina’s, both Uptown and Downtown both regular and late night. We played the Jazz Fest Fairgrounds for the official festival one time, which was really a great show for us, and we went on before Dr. John and that was always a thrill to be on the bill with the great doctor. I have a late-night jam I’m doing during Jazz Fest this year with Corey Glover from Living Color and a group of great musicians that are like a little super group; that should be a late-night jam.
I’ve always loved New Orleans. I’m a big food person, too, so I’ve always enjoyed exploring the city. Another noble thing is, we made our second record in New Orleans, and we recorded at three different studios. It was really a unique recording experience. We first recorded at, he passed away, but a great dear friend of ours, Keith Keller, aka Freddy Flames, and we recorded at his studio. Then we recorded at Allen Toussaint’s studio Uptown, and then we recorded at Kingsway down in the Quarter. So we spent a month or so down there making this record called Coast to Coast Motel. I think during that time, we all really got to know and love the city so much so that, actually, my drummer moved down to New Orleans in ’96, Jeffrey Clemens, and he had a little band on the local scene called 007, which was a favorite band down there. And then he lived down there until Katrina hit and, like so many other people, he lost his house. It was pretty sad for him. He had finally bought a house after working years and years and years on the road, and literally the day that his mattress and refrigerator were being delivered was the day that the storm hit, and he took four feet of water. So he bought a house but never got to sleep one day in it. He relocated to Nashville after that, where he’s been there since.
And then one last thing, I was engaged to a woman; it didn’t work out. But I was engaged to a woman from Waveland, Mississippi, right up the road, so I really got to know and love the coast down there and all the great people and the food. So it’s always very dear to be down there. Now that’s an answer!
Can you tell me a little about this Jamtown project with Jack Johnson?
Jamtown, we’re going on tour with Jack, but Jack’s not a part of the band. Not yet. We’ve got plans to try to get him on a track, though. Hopefully we’ll get a collaboration with our dear friend.
It’s very much related to Jack. Jamtown is myself, Cisco Adler and Donavon Frankenreiter. Donavon and I, years ago, with Jack, actually, while we were on tour with Jack, we did this kind of recording, like a press radio hit and it was called the Orange Room, and it ended up being an EP. It’s really beloved by people who like what we all do, and so we always thought, why don’t we do a record based upon that. We’d been talking about it for years, and finally Donavan and I decided we would do it, so I got Cisco Adler to produce. Originally, it was just going to be Donavan and me going in and doing a couple new versions of old songs, maybe one or two originals and a couple covers. What ended up happening was, the three of us, Cisco, Donavan and I wrote this amazing record of 10 songs. It was one of those things where we all do a lot of other stuff and we just wanted to do some musical exploration. Every once in a while you hit gold on it, and we really did. It’s been exciting. There’s a little buzz on it, and we just picked up three shows on the Jack tour. So those were the first shows we booked and the record’s getting mixed now.
So y’all will be in Denver and L.A.? Those are the only two cities you know of as of now?
Right now there’s only one New York show, but that should sell out; and, they’ll have a second New York show, which we’ll be on. That one’s not announced yet. Yeah, it should end up being New York, L.A. and Denver.
You’ve been pretty active on Twitter over the past few months regarding the election.
Can we expect anything new that’s more political?
That’s funny because I have been very vocal through the tail end of the election and since Trump’s brash executive orders have really been shaking the roots of what I and a lot of people believe are the things that make our country great like religious tolerance, equality for all races and genders and sexual preference, and just human rights. So I’ve really been trying to step up and put things out.
Especially when the Women’s March happened, I was stuck on the bus and I wasn’t able to go on any marches. I really wanted to be, honestly, like a cheerleader and just help any of my fans that were like what the fuck is going on, just to at least let it be known that I’m with them and I have their back and celebrate and support what they’re doing.
I just find a lot of artists have been really complacent and its very disappointing to me because artists have a lot of platform, especially now because of social media. I don’t have that many followers compared to a lot of people, but I have a good amount, and it’s important for us to speak our minds about this stuff at this crucial time. The thing about it is, is that the favorite quote you hear from people who are going along with Trump’s agenda is that, “You should stick to music, not politics.”
Full circle to the question is that, look: if you listen to any one of my records, any one, you’re gonna see that there’s songs about all kinds of stuff, and there’s social connotation songs and political songs on every one of my records. If you think for a second that this is something new for me… I’ve always been a protestor kid since I was in high school. I worked for an organization called Peace Action right before the band got together, and I was helping to raise funds for lobbying against nuclear weapons testing and for economic conversion, converting funds from the defense budget to education and other domestic needs. So this has been a huge part of my life forever, and I’m just kind of really, I’ll tell ya, ya know, it’s just been a lot of complacency for many years for people that share the progressive values that I hold and it’s kind of like a rallying cry for people that want our country and … to not come back to these archaic, narrow-minded beliefs. So I try to do my part and be as socialist as I can right now.
I’m not in a writing zone right now because I am on the road and I can’t really write so much on the road, but I have been working on some new stuff since the summer that has been pretty poignant. And I’m sure I will be because as a songwriter, you’re kind of writing about the things that are affecting your life and this new administration is affecting my life and my mood every day.
When can we expect a new song to come out?
Well, G. Love and Special Sauce, we just put out a lot in the last couple years: Sugar, Love Saves The Day and two EPs, Bloodshot and Blue and Sweet N’ Blues. And this Jamtown record, in spite of everything we were just talking about, that record is kind of very much not political, but maybe it’s the kind of record that’s going to help soothe you after you get all fired up. As far as the next G. Love record, I think 2018.
Hopefully I’ll record. I did work on a recording project with Keb’ Mo’, so that’s kind of on my mind to do a blues-oriented record with him, but then I also have a hip-hop record in my mind, which would be the one that’s more poignant. These are just records that are being written right now, so he next thing coming out will be Jamtown.
Would this hip-hop record be in collaboration with anyone?
Honestly, I think right now is a great time just for me to do some different things because like I said, we just did three or four band releases. I have done one kind of traditional hip-hop record and it was Australian release, but it’s on Spotify and it’s G. Love and Plutonic, and it’s called Moonshine Lemonade. And that was a collaborative record we did all through computer, across from Australia to Boston.
I can’t really speak on it, I don’t know, but one thing is that, if you’re interested in what I’m writing or working on, you could go on my YouTube page and go back to this summer. In the summertime I have some time off, which I did last summer, I had a couple weeks. I was working a lot. There are a couple raps I put up on YouTube. One’s called “Light Up My Life” and one’s called “Wow What a World.” You can kind of see what I’m percolating on the front porch.
G. Love and Special Sauce will perform at the Joy Theater with Yonder Mountain String Band at 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 16. Tickets are available here.