Artist G. Love Excited for Bird & Betty’s Friday Night Show, Beach and Mussels

By Jon Coen | Jun 24, 2019
Video by: G Love and Special Sauce G Love plays an acoustic solo show at Bird & Betty's Friday, June 29.
Courtesy of: Philadelphonic Philly’s G. Love, an LBI favorite, plays Beach Haven on Friday night, June 28.

Beach Haven — “Costa Rica or Hawaii or the Jersey Shore. Anytime I was on vacation and ended up in certain places like Nantucket or Dewey Beach, I’d book a little solo gig to pay for the trip,” said Garrett Dutton this week. He’s better known as blues musician G. Love.

“So I had built a pretty good little string of venues up and down the East Coast when I was off the road and not supposed to be playing. And one time my manager said, ‘Hey, did you play the Surf Lodge in Montauk last night?’ I said, ‘No, I didn’t play.’ And he said, ‘Well, that’s funny because my buddy was there.’ So eventually the cat got out of the bag,” he confessed with a laugh.

G. Love is the frontman for G. Love and Special Sauce, a three-piece alternative blues, soul, hip hop band from Philly. He is playing a solo acoustic tour at Bird & Betty’s in Beach Haven this Friday, June 28.

He explained that one summer, he had some time between national shows, so he put together a leisurely tour of coastal venues called the Beachside Blues Tour and had a great time. Later this summer he has a major tour with Blues Travelers and Moe. But he was able to do an early-summer Northeast run with the Kelly Bell Band that starts this Friday.

“The concept of the Beachside Blues Tour has always been a kicked-back tour and get to be in the ocean every day, hopefully get some surf and stay out of the cities. You know, a lot of bands just play Philadelphia or New York, and all the locals at the shore have to drive up to the city …  or not,” he said. “We just decided, ‘Why not?’ We’ve got a lot of support in the surf community, so we just bring it to them.”

G. Love grew up in Philly, always visiting the beach towns of New Jersey. He formed G. Love and Special Sauce with Jeffrey Clemens and Jim Prescott in 1993. The next year they released a self-titled debut album on Okeh Records. The single “Cold Beverage” got good rotation on alternative radio and MTV, giving them a successful start to build on. They released Coast to Coast Motel, Yeah, It’s That Easy and Philaphonic through the late ’90s and then incorporated more hip hop, funk, psychedelica, blues and soul into their sounds on Electric Mile, all while touring relentlessly.

They enjoyed a resurgence in the mid-2000s with their own version of “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” and Coca Cola used them for the launch of Coke Zero.

In 2004, G. Love released his first of three solo albums on Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records. The last record with Special Sauce was 2015’s Love Saves the Day. His most recent solo effort was a holiday-themed Coming Home for Christmas on Philaphonic Records. G. Love and Special Sauce just recorded a new record called The Juice that will also be released on Philaphonic in 2020. Between the band and the solo tours, he plays about 150 shows per year.

The band represents something of the cultural connection between New Jersey’s beach towns and Philly, 30 years of cross-pollination of blues, urban culture, surfing, rock and hip hop. They’ve often shared the stage with the likes of Jack Johnson and Ben Harper.

G. Love last played LBI when Nardi’s booked him in 2016. While he spends a lot of time in Avalon, he’s often traveled to LBI for better surfing conditions. He’s excited to play the Island again and very interested to visit Bird & Betty’s, as he has become friendly with co-owners Eric and Melanie Magaziner and familiar with their Mud City Crab House and Old Causeway eateries.

“I met Eric through surfing with Brian Farias. It wasn’t anything great that day, but it was fun. And hey, man, all their food is delicious. I love their mussels and their crab cakes,” he admitted.

Bird & Betty’s has the potential to hold 800 people, and this will be a feather in its cap as the owners build toward making Beach Haven a destination for traveling bands again. Its Memorial Day opening weekend featured Philly’s The Swift Technique. The rest of the summer will be marked with appearances by the Long Beach Dub All Stars on July 29, Remember Jones on Aug. 3, and other artists from around the country and Jamaica.

“My husband, Eric, and I have always loved G. Love and Special Sauce,” said Melanie Magaziner. “We went to see them together in 1994 at the Tide Bar. And we listen to his solo records. We’ve gotten to know him a bit. A lot of our local friends are fans. When we opened Bird & Betty’s this year, we made a point to book original touring bands. That’s something we want to bring back to LBI, that summertime feeling of going to see a band you’ve loved right here with locals.

“G. Love was one of the first artists we contacted. It’s been really cool to watch those couple hundred tickets already sell. And really, I’m just excited to get to see him.”

Opening the night is the Kelly Bell Band of Baltimore, a dynamic blues band that incorporates a mix of genres.

Doors open at 9 on Friday night. Advance tickets are $30 at Ticketweb. There will be tickets at the door until the show sells out.

G. Love is ready to take the stage. After LBI, he heads to Long Island and New England.

“I’ll be playing a couple of songs off the new record as well as old classics, some freesytles and some old blues. I love to play. And if I don’t get surf, I still get in the ocean every day, just good to be by the beach,” he added.

— Jon Coen

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