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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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G. Love brings a love for the sounds of the Northeast Corridor and the South to the Inland Northwest

G. Love & Special Sauce will return to Spokane for a show at the Lucky You on Monday night.  (Joe Navas)
G. Love & Special Sauce will return to Spokane for a show at the Lucky You on Monday night. (Joe Navas)
By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

It’s not a reference to Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town of about 7,000 people northeast of Jackson. There’s not a comma missing in “Philadelphia Mississippi,” the name of G. Love & Special Sauce’s latest album. Instead, it’s referring to two influences.

G. Love, aka Garrett Dutton, hails from Philadelphia and has been influenced by the sounds of the City of Brotherly Love and the blues from Mississippi.

“So the album title definitely works for me,” Dutton said while calling from his Cape Cod, Massachusetts, home. “When I was growing up in Philadelphia, I knew there was another city named Philadelphia in America. I thought that was interesting. When I was a kid I had no idea Mississippi would have such an effect on me.”

Dutton, 50, tips his cap to his birthplace and the Southern state, where he feels most comfortable. The vocalist-guitarist and his band traveled to the Magnolia State to record the album, which was produced by North Mississippi All-Star guitarist-vocalist Luther Dickinson. Dutton has gone full circle since his second album, 1995’s “Coast to Coast Motel,” was produced by Jim Dickinson, Luther Dickinson’s late father.

“I loved working with Jim Dickinson,” Dutton said. “Luther is amazing, too. Luther delivers what I call ‘invisible production.’ Luther has a firm steady hand.”

“Philadelphia Mississippi” is a typically eclectic G. Love album comprised of Delta blues, soul and hip-hop.

“Love From Philly” is a hip-hop salute to Dutton’s roots. Philadelphia rapper Schooly D and pro skateboarder/multi-instrumentalist Chuck Treece, both longtime friends of Dutton’s from his old neighborhood, help make the song groove. Treece plays on a number of “Philadelphia Mississippi” cuts.

“Chuck has been almost like a fourth member of G. Love since he played on some of our first demos,” Dutton said. “We reconnected during COVID. He played with us at a show in Baltimore and we had a great time. So Chuck played guitar, bass and drums (during the Philadelphia Mississippi sessions.) I had some help from a lot of great players.”

Arrested Development’s Speech adds some vocals, and guitar whiz Alvin Youngblood Hart delivers some blistering solos.

“Alvin is a unique cat,” Dutton said. “Alvin is a real blues guy. He’s a real ripper on the guitar.”

“Kickin’ ” features impressive acoustic slide guitar and vocal harmonies. Dutton shows off his harmonica skills with “Hip Hop Harpin.”

“We went in a number of different directions,” Dutton said. “What’s so cool about what’s happening with us is that we have people come out and see us and support the music even though we’re not what’s happening in the mainstream. We’re getting attention solely because of the music.”

Fans are checking out the shows, critics are raving about recent albums, and the music industry is recognizing G. Love & Special Sauce.

2020’s “The Juice” was nominated for a Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy.

“We loved making ‘The Juice’ and were honored by the nomination,” Dutton said. “We didn’t get a nomination this time for ‘Philadelphia Mississippi,’ but we keep rolling along.”

The trio that formed G. Love & Special Sauce is intact 30 years after forming. Dutton, bassist Jim “Jimi Jazz” Prescott and drummer Jeffrey “Houseman” Clemens, have made their band a lifetime commitment.

“It’s rare that you see this and I appreciate it,” Dutton said. “But we obviously love what we do. It’s been wild what we’ve experienced.”

The catchy bluesy single “Cold Beverage” became a hit in 1994 courtesy of MTV. The second G. Love album, 1995’s “Coast to Coast Motel,” earned rave reviews from critics.

The band was featured in an advertisement for the launch of Coke Zero in 2005. The group delivered a unique version of the noted Coca-Cola classic advertising song, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.”

Dutton and his bandmates have jammed with a number of celebrated friends, ranging from the late Dr. John to Donovan Frankenreiter and Jack Johnson.

Dutton essentially launched the latter’s career. Johnson wrote and added vocals for the song “Rodeo Clowns,’ which was featured on G. Love’s 1999 album, “Philadelphonic.” The song became the most notable tune on the album.

“Garrett gave my career such a boost,” Jack Johnson said while calling from his Oahu, Hawaii, home. “He gave me so much confidence and I’m indebted to him. He’s not just a great musician but also a wonderful friend.”

The feeling is mutual.

“I’m so glad we met since I was blown away by his musical skill and I also just like talking with him,” Dutton said. “Jack is such a great guy. But I’ll never forget that day we met since Jack really killed me. The moment I heard him I was stunned by the effortlessness of his delivery and the poignancy of his lyrics. He uses regular bar chords, which I never use but the way he plays, his originality, it’s just very impressive. But Jack is just one of many amazing people we met while being in this band. It’s truly been an incredible trip for the three of us. I never would have guessed that 30 years after we started this, that we would be in this space. I have nothing but gratitude for the experience.”

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