G Love Still Has Sauce

After 20 years, the hip-hop roots rocker keeps his music fresh and energy high

Garrett Dutton, better known as G Love—the frontman for G Love and Special Sauce, has perfected a sound that combines the jam-heavy roots-rock heritage of his early ’90s beginnings with a lyrical hip-hop sensibility. After 20 years, more than a dozen studio albums, two best-of compilations and more on the horizon, the group is holding steady as the kind of feel-good band that caters to millennials. Think Jimmy Buffett or Phish for the early-30s, still-employed-but-eager-for-escapism set. Love, 40, and his band are supporting fellow alt-rock/hip-hop groups 311 and Cypress Hill on tour, testing out some new songs and preparing to finish up an album due out in early 2014.

How has your career changed over time?

When we first started out we were doing up to 250 shows for the first couple of years. As time goes on, the goal is not to play less shows but to play to more people. We don’t do as many shows as we did when we were first doing shows because we’re doing bigger shows now.

What defines this tour?

This tour feels really current and apropos to the times, and I think that’s a testament to the bands we’re on tour with. I think the goal is to keep it timely but to also keep it timeless.

What are some of your favorite places to tour?

Kind of every place. You know there’s going to be a cool vibe in a city like New York, but it’s really cool when you go to smaller cities and see a thriving music scene. I love going out to the West Coast, I love California and the Pacific Northwest because I love the landscape out there. In the South people are warm and loose and ready to party. And on the West Coast they’re all stoned. People are different everywhere you go.

What can audiences expect to hear while you’re in Vegas?

This tour and this year are really about getting the new material from the new record [Bloodshot and Blue, released in April] out there. We can play whatever we want right now because we’re not really supporting a record. On this tour we’ve been doing a more hip-hop set, like “Fuck It” and “Right or Wrong,” and new ones like “Come Up Man” and a song called “No Regrets.” It’s a song we’re all excited [about] as a band, it’s a big opening song. It’s about growing up and looking back and trying to live a life with no regrets.

Do you have a favorite Las Vegas spot to play?

I’ve played all the casinos mostly. The fun ones are the ones that are out by the pool with the fake beaches. Vegas is what it is, it’s a party. People go there to party. You have that aspect of a party but then there are locals who come out, too. I think it’s cool to bring some stuff that’s down and dirty for locals, something [that’s] not schmaltzy, touristy stuff.

You’re known for your enthusiastic live shows. How do you keep the energy up?

It’s a combination of being super nervous and super excited. I still get those pre-show jitters. We are always giving 150 percent and getting our sweat on. I think the way you keep giving that vibe is being connected with your music, putting the work in, staying focused on making new music. If you’re just out there playing covers of yourself basically, you can get static, so you’ve got to write new stuff and make the old stuff still sound fresh.

So no plans to retire?

No, I plan to just keep playing music until I can’t do anything else. Then play more music.

G Love and Special Sauce

with Cypress Hill and 311, The Joint at the Hard Rock, 8 p.m. Aug. 4, 693-5000, TheJointLasVegas.com.

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