G.LOVE & SPECIAL SAUCE
"I think of us as a rock and roll group," said Garrett Dutton, the Philadelphia guitarist, singer and bandleader known professionally as G. Love. "We definitely incorporate a lot of different flavors ... Making sure the backbeats are funky."
What Love and the Sauce serve up is a beefy blend of blues, funk, hip hop and Philly Soul.
Dutton, who began his career as a street player, once recalled the band's dubious beginnings this way: "There were definitely people that were like, ‘You're white and you're from Philly and you went to school and you're a regular kid. How can you play blues? And how can you rap? What gives you the right to do it?'"
A songwriter since his teens - inspired in equal measure by Bob Dylan and the Beatles - Dutton fell hard for the old Delta blues cats, and soon afterwards, the Beastie Boys.
It wasn't calculated, he said. "I wasn't formulating in my head - ah, hip hop plus blues equals originality ... when I stumbled upon it, I knew it. ‘That's the hip hop blues.'
"And I was like, no one can be doing this right now. There's no way that anyone else is doing this."
With smooth and sinewy beats punctuated by standup bass, keyboards and Dutton's Little Walter-inspired blues harmonica, Special Sauce somehow manages to incorporate inspired hip hop raps and riffs into the mix without sounding cheesy or forced. It's an entirely original sound.
The band hit the big time in the early ‘90s with G. Love and Special Sauce, Coast to Coast Motel and Philadelphonic. It was during the recording of the latter (in 1999) that Dutton first worked with guitarist Jack Johnson, who became a close pal. These days, Love and the boys are signed to Johnson's Hawaii-based label, Brushfire Records. The band's latest Brushfire release is Superhero Brother. Listen & learn: www.philadelphonic.com.
At 6 p.m. Friday, May 28 in Forsyth Park, with Galactic and Crash Kings. Free.
After a stint on the injured reserve list (guitarist Arleigh Hertzler recently had some back problems; a year ago, he broke his middle finger in a freak soccer accident) this hard-charging Charleston "greaser pun" trio is back in action, playing a pureed blend of ‘50s rockabilly, ‘60s country (only the good stuff) and ‘70s punk. Very like a more electrified version of our very own Train Wrecks. The bill also includes the Bo-Stevens from Winston-Salem, a high octane honky tonk band complete with pedal steel, upright bass and chicken-pickin' Stratocaster leads. Listen & learn: www.myspace.com/thedefilers, www.myspace.com/thebostevens.
At 11 p.m. Saturday, May 29 at the Jinx, 127 W. Congress St.
Remember when the Stray Cats' retro-rockabilly sound was all the rage in the early 1980s? Well, maybe you're too young to remember, but that sort of tremolo-heavy electric guitar, slapping bass and punchy snare drum sound never really goes out of style - that's why this Atlanta threesome, fronted by "Hot Rod Walt" on guitar, has been consistently popular since coming together 2002. It's called psychobilly because of its greaser look and vaguely ominous sound - minor chords with surf-guitar reverb, right out of Pulp Fiction, with titles like "Six Beers in Six Minutes," "Thrills For Sure" and "Roots Rock Ready." It's the dark underbelly of Happy Days. Listen & learn: www.myspace.com/psychodevilles.
At 10 p.m. Saturday, May 29 at the Wormhole Bar, 2307 Bull St.
One of the tourist-ducking delights of after-hours River Street is the nightly Irish music show at Kevin Barry's. And it's a show, all right - the stage is in a room separate from the bar, so there's no noise and clatter (although, in true pub fashion, you can certainly order drinks and have them delivered to you in the music room). There's not a television or video game in the place. Virginia's Frank Emerson is a treasured troubadour - he plays everywhere in the country, and in Ireland as well - who's been making regular appearances at Barry's for nearly 30 years. "I tried a few other things before this, and this was the only thing I was moderately good at," he says. "I used to say ‘I drive for a living, and I get to play music at the end of the drive.'" Listen & learn: www.frankemerson.com.
At 8:30 p.m. May 26-30 at Kevin Barry's Irish Pub, 117 W. River St.