Home » Y’all know me, not the same old G. (Love)
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Y’all know me, not the same old G. (Love)

When Garrett “G. Love” Dutton and I were on the phone back in early March, ruminating about life, music, career, and the album that has appeared to rejuvenate a steady albeit increasingly stagnant career, G. brought up a recent concert in Japan, and the reactions of the people there to his new album.

At this point, the horrific tragedy of the earthquake and resulting tsunami hadn’t happened yet. Here’s hoping that music can provide a tiny bit of reprieve from the harsh realities left in the wake of the tragedy – as long as the title of G’s new record isn’t taken too seriously.

“They’re real literal over there,” G. said with a chuckle. “They were all asking me ‘what is Fixin’ to Die?’”

“It’s just a blues song that came out better than any of the other songs, I don’t know what to say to these guys,” he said with a laugh. “But I was talking with my manager, he said if we don’t do something fucking amazing on this record, we’re fixin’ to die.”

“We were all on a little bit of a downward spiral – it’s important to do something different. That was what had to happen, and no one knew that more than me.”

Thus was revealed the possibly inadvertent significance of the gem of a country blues album that Scott Avett calls “the record we all knew he should make and he could make…but he had to open himself to the core to make it.”

There will be plenty of tunes from “Fixin’ to Die” to be heard, along with a healthy stock of that original hip hop blues styling, when G. Love & Special Sauce return to Harlow’s (2708 J St.) at 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 13. At press time, tickets were no longer available through the Harlow’s website, but some tickets still may be available at The Beat (17th and J St.), or additional day of show tickets may come available. Call Harlow’s at (916) 441-4693 for availability.

True to Scott Avett’s assertion, any G. Love fan will tell you that “Fixin’ to Die” has been a long time coming. Everyone knew there was a troubadour lurking under the surface of the slick and smooth emcee/bluesman persona by which fans came to know him so well – but that was a persona that, perhaps unbeknownst to said loyal fans, was beginning to lose its freshness after nearly 20 years.

“Because I’ve always been able to go in all these different directions, it’s been a blessing and a curse,” G said. “For most people, hip hop and Delta blues couldn’t be further apart.

“One critic said that ‘The Hustle’ was utterly sincere and completely unfocused. That was a review, but I really took it to heart, I realized I was trying to do too much on every record. When I was with Sony (Records), I got into the cycle where I felt like I wanted to make a record once a year, but they would only let me make one every two or three; we got into a cycle where they were just trying to get a hit.”

The Sony records days are now long gone, as G. Love has set up camp at Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records, which produced the luscious band-oriented records “Lemonade” and “Superhero Brother.”

But the time had clearly come for Mr. Dutton to make a record that stirred the pot, and was more about him than rhymes and jams with the Sauce. It was under the tutelage of Scott Avett and his brother Seth (collectively, the Avett Brothers) that the record would come to fruition.

“We kinda said early on that we wanted to have an artist produce the record,” G. said. “We need a story, we need something that’s going to give people a reason to check G. Love out.”

“When you’ve been in the game for this long, you’ve got to give people a reason to keep coming back. The minute we decided we were going to do a blues record in the genre of American roots, you couldn’t find a couple better cats to help guide you through the record than Seth and Scott.”

Mutual friend Jay Sweet of Paste Magazine was the one who guided G. over to the House of Blues in Boston after a Patriots game in 2009 to see the Avett Brothers perform. This led to a backstage hangout, and later a performance collaboration in 2010 at the Summer Camp Music Festival in Illinois. An offer to guest on the new album quickly turned into Seth and Scott Avett taking over production duties.

Finding time to squeeze the album into the blazing hot schedule the Avett Brothers have been keeping over the past year, G., Seth and Scott layed out the recording session over nine days, breaking only (ironically) for G. to perform a previously scheduled concert at Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, opening for Sheryl Crow.

The recording, and ultimate result of “Fixin’ to Die,” is a record decidedly about the man who’s name appears on the cover. Some of the songs he wrote when he was as young as 16.

From Special Sauce, only drummer Jeffrey “Houseman” Clemens joined the sessions for half the tracks; bassist Timo Shanko and keyboardist Mark Boyce did not.

Read more about “Fixin’ to Die” here.

“It was a really magical,” G. said. “(Seth and Scott) definitely brought something special out of me. They have such a clear precise way of doing everything they do, they’re really visionary guys, and incredible musicians on top of that.”

“They put a lot of love and energy and focus into it,” he added. “Knowing that these guys are so busy and giving what little time they have this year, that meant a lot to me and that really brought a lot of energy out of me, to make sure I brought my best songs to the table.”

G. laughed when adding “every day the shit was going down, I was like, ‘please don’t fuck this up!’”

He didn’t.

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