Mixing the sauce back up

G. Love and Special Sauce’s sloppy brand of blues rock has only gotten looser after over 20 years.

Garrett Dutton, better known as G. Love, won’t ever forget the first time his band G. Love and Special Sauce came to Minneapolis.

The guitarist, harmonica player and vocalist for the funky three-piece said playing in Minneapolis almost feels like playing in the band’s hometown of Philadelphia.

“The first time we came out here, we played the Uptown Bar, and there was a big line down the block,” he said. “We were so confused and asked people what the [expletive] was going on, and they looked at us and were like, ‘This is for your show.’”

The nostalgia is especially strong now that the original lineup is back together for the first time in eight years.

Formed in 1993 with drummer Jeff Clemens and bassist Jim Prescott, G. Love and Special Sauce found success in the ’90s, scoring a hit on MTV with their single “Cold Beverage.” Their signature mix of hip-hop, blues and jam rock netted them an international fan base. After touring all over for years, Prescott officially called it quits in 2008.

Things changed in 2013. Dutton didn’t see Prescott for five years, until the group was drafting plans to record their latest album, “Sugar.”

“We had a heart-to-heart, and he said he would love to do some recording,” Dutton said.

After playing a session together and having “an incredible time,” Prescott agreed to come back, and the original lineup was intact once again.

“A band’s chemistry is fueled in a way that’s a lot like how people describe falling in love,” Dutton said. “Musically, Jim, Jeff and I share that same continuity.”

It’s audible on “Sugar.” With Prescott back in the studio, the band recorded tracks live. The record brings back memories of their self-titled 1994 debut. Lazily delivered rap sections, funky guitar grooves and free-flowing, scale-soaring solos color the collection.

G. Love and Special Sauce have some tricks up their sleeve, too — on tracks like “One Night Romance,” Dutton duets with legendary “Gimme Shelter” backing vocalist Merry Clayton. With the repeated mantra “Come get un-lonely with me,” the song captures the passion and playfulness that G. Love and Special Sauce have always emitted.

“I push for a euphoric thing when I play, when everything is hanging out and the bass cuts in and everyone in the room is connected through that,” Dutton said.

As far as getting back on the road again, Dutton said the group couldn’t be more pleased with the results. They’ve been playing two sets each night, the first of which is a play-through of their first record. Their second set is a collection of songs from “Sugar” and selected jams from the rest of their discography.

After more than 20 years in the music business, Dutton said he wouldn’t leave it for anything.

“Everything else is bullshit. The money, the lifestyle, the traveling, the industry, all that,” he said. “Music is the only thing in your life that’s never gonna lie to you.”

 

What: G. Love and Special Sauce with Ethan Tucker
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: First Avenue, 701 N. First Ave., Minneapolis
Cost: $25
Ages: 18+