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G. Love & Special Sauce

G. Love & Special Sauce are a Philadelphia-based outfit known for their distinctively laid-back blend of Delta-style blues and old-school hip-hop. Led by singer/songwriter G. Love, the group broke through with 1994's G. Love & Special Sauce, whose single "Cold Beverage" introduced fans to their funky sonic bouillabaisse and helped propel the album to gold status. They remained cult favorites in the '90s with albums like Coast to Coast Motel, Yeah, It's That Easy, and Philadelphonic. Despite lineup changes, Love has continued to helm the group, exploring soul and psychedelia on 2001's Electric Mile and further embracing his love of hip-hop and blues on 2008's Superhero Brother, 2014's Sugar, and 2015's Love Saves the Day. In 2020, he collaborated with blues artist Keb' Mo' on The Juice, and returned in 2022 with the Luther Dickinson-produced Philadelphia Mississippi. Formed in 1993 in Boston, G. Love & Special Sauce initially featured G. Love (born Garrett Dutton) on guitar, vocals, and harmonica, Jeff Clemens on drums, and Jim Prescott on upright bass. A native of Philadelphia, Dutton had started on guitar at age eight and eventually added harmonica played on a wire rack to his repertoire. As a teenager, he began writing his own songs, drawing inspiration from artists like Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters as well as hip-hop artists like Run-D.M.C., Schoolly D, and the Beastie Boys. After dropping out of Skidmore College, Dutton moved to Boston, where he started busking on the streets and playing bars. By 1993, he and the other members of G. Love & Special Sauce had established themselves as the house band at the Cambridge bar The Plough and Stars. They signed a record deal and, in 1994, released their self-titled debut, G. Love & Special Sauce on OKeh/Epic. It received enthusiastic reviews and went gold on the strength of the MTV-spun video for "Cold Beverage." The group toured heavily, also landing a subsequent spot on the H.O.R.D.E. tour, where they found a receptive young audience. They followed up this success with a more mature sophomore album, the Jim Dickinson-produced Coast to Coast Motel, in 1995. However, while on tour, the group nearly broke up due to bickering over finances. They decided to take a break from each other while G. Love worked on a new album with three different bands (All Fellas Band, Philly Cartel, and King's Court) and special guest Dr. John. Soon, though, G. Love & Special Sauce made amends, and the next album featured Special Sauce plus combinations of the three other groups. Yeah, It's That Easy was released in October 1997, and it turned out to be a soul-inflected effort, more similar to their debut than to their second album. G. Love & Special Sauce soon embarked on another world tour, returning in 1999 with Philadelphonic, which featured an appearance by the group's friend Jack Johnson. Released in 2001, Electric Mile found G. Love incorporating hip-hip, funk, psychedelia, blues, and soul in equal and ambitious measure. Mile was followed by extensive touring. By 2004 and the Hustle LP, G. Love had eased up a little on the kitchen-sink approach, offering instead a cohesive dry groove reminiscent of his earliest efforts. Hustle was also the first G. Love release under Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records banner. His move from Sony spawned The Best of G. Love & Special Sauce, but G. Love wasn't done. Special Sauce did a series of shows in 2004 with Johnson and fellow Brushfire artist Donavon Frankenreiter, and the trio also found time to issue a brief live EP before 2006's Lemonade. The live album A Year & a Night with G. Love & Special Sauce appeared in 2007, with the studio album Superhero Brother following in 2008. After a six-year break, the original G. Love & Special Sauce lineup (featuring Clemens and Prescott) reunited for 2014's Sugar. A year later, the band released Love Saves the Day on Brushfire Records. Appearing in October 2015, the album featured a slew of special guests including Lucinda Williams, Citizen Cope, and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. Early in 2020, G. Love & Special Sauce delivered The Juice, an album co-produced with bluesman Keb' Mo' and featuring contributions by Marcus King, Robert Randolph, Ron Artis, and Roosevelt Collier. In July 2022, Love returned with Philadelphia Mississippi. Produced by North Mississippi All-Stars' Luther Dickinson, it found Love continuing to explore his mix of old-school blues and hip-hop, alongside guests like guitarist Alvin Youngblood Hart, rap icon Schoolly D, and Speech from Arrested Development.
© Matt Collar & Greg Prato /TiVo


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