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Blue Eyed Blues

When Garrett Dutton was eight years old, it was the Beatles who prompted him to take up the guitar. After learning to fingerpick “Blackbird” and adding a harmonica to the mix, by fifteen he was writing his own songs. But it wasn’t until he asked the owner of his local record store who else besides [...]
J.R. McMillan

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When Garrett Dutton was eight years old, it was the Beatles who prompted him to take up the guitar. After learning to fingerpick “Blackbird” and adding a harmonica to the mix, by fifteen he was writing his own songs. But it wasn’t until he asked the owner of his local record store who else besides Bob Dylan and Neil Young played solo acoustic guitar and blew the harp, that he was handed his first John Hammond album.

Though his stage name and notoriety were still years away, that was the moment Garrett became G. Love.

“When I heard his rendition of “Statesboro Blues,” my whole world changed,” G. Love recalled. “I was used to people strumming the guitar, and this was an entirely different sound—holding the bass, playing riffs, playing melodies, all at the same time. That sound guided me toward Delta blues.”

Faithful execution of traditional blues standards probably would have been enough to make a white kid from Philadelphia stand out amid aging hair bands and the grunge craze in the waning days of power pop. Freestyle rap was becoming as much a part of the emerging Philly music scene as Hall and Oates had by reimaging R&B in the ‘70s and ‘80s, or the defining influence of the Delfonics decades earlier. G. Love turned something old into something new, a nod to the past with a pulse on the present.

“The hip hop side of what I do was just part of growing up in our generation and the music we listened to with our friends,” he explained. “I never really thought of myself as a rapper until one night while I was still a street musician, I finished one of my tunes and started singing Eric B. and Rakim’s ‘Paid in Full’ lyrics over the blues riff I was playing and it was like a light shown down on me. It was something no one else was doing.”

That reference to “our generation” wasn’t just a generalization. G. Love and I have some shared history, though our paths had never formally or formerly crossed. We’re the same age, and despite being unapologetically the product of urban, East Coast upbringings, our formative musical influences run a remarkably similar range, from the Beastie Boys and Run DMC to Big Bill Broonzy and Robert Johnson. Just as his genre-defying debut album  released, I happened to be the blues producer at a tiny  public radio station that either didn’t mind or didn’t know how often I brought in milk crates of my own vinyl and patched the board into the only studio left that still had a working turntable. That’s when I first dropped the needle on “Cold Beverage” and the sound was unlike anything else on the air.

What easily could have been another catchy one-hit-wonder seemed to stick. Back before Spotify and SiriusXM, the way most musicians found new audiences was through independent radio and the small club circuit. That’s where G. Love and his Boston-born band, Special Sauce, won fans and defied critics. Though it’s been his enthusiasm to collaborate that continues to find new followings with albums and appearances from Ben Harper and Lucinda Williams to Keb’ Mo’ and Citizen Cope constantly redefining his raconteur style.

“Collaboration should be natural and sincere, but you don’t have to be best friends to cut a song together,” he noted. “Most musicians love to get that call to work on an album together. I know I do.”

One such call came from the Avett Brothers, who produced “Fixin’ to Die”, as well as backing G. Love with enough layered harmonies and bright banjo licks to create a credible Appalachian-inspired album of back porch blues.

“The Avett Brothers were huge fans when they were in high school. Seth had a broken cassette deck in his car that had my album Yeah, It’s That Easy stuck in it, playing for a year,” he laughed. “They were already big when they took time out to do my album.”

Despite these seemingly unlikely musical alliances, his most well-known and enduring collaboration is probably with Jack Johnson. The two were introduced by a mutual friend and fellow surfer while G. Love was in L.A. working on an album.

“We came back to my little hotel room and traded songs after surfing all afternoon,” he revealed. “Basically every song he played went on his first album, Brushfire Fairytales.”

G. Love championed Johnson’s music, even including an early bluesy release of “Rodeo Clowns” as a duet on that album, Philadelphonic. By the time Johnson was coming into his own, G. Love’s label was cutting smaller bands. Brushfire Records picked up G. Love, where his loyalties and royalties remain to this day.

It’s been a winding road, but not a weary one for G. Love and Special Sauce, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of their self-titled album this year with a tour of venues and cities large and small. But it’s those cities in the middle where he expects to keep finding ways to stay new and true to the music he admires and aspires.

“Twenty-five years later, I’m still finding new ways to do the same old thing. I used to get chased off the corner as a street musician, but now Philadelphia is exploding because New York has priced people out,” he explained. “Musicians, artists, and actors are going to thrive where they can afford to live, and get a little steam going. Places like Philly, Baltimore, and Columbus are where I think we’re going to see a wave of creatives over the next ten years — cities with scenes small enough to stand out, but still big enough to make an impact.”

G. Love and Special Sauce will perform at the Columbus Arts Festival on June 9. For more, visit columbusartsfestival.org.

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Local rocker Angela Perley shines on solo debut

Mike Thomas

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Folk, alt-country, or indie rock—however you choose to categorize her sound, Angela Perley remains a pillar of the Columbus music community—and highly in-demand as a national touring act, to boot.

(614) caught up with Perley to discuss her new album, life on the road, and what it takes to make it as a musician in the Capital City.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

(614): YOUR NEW RELEASE, 4:30, IS YOUR FIRST AS A SOLO ACT. WHAT LED TO THIS CHANGE?

AP: Since 2009 until last year, I had the Howlin’ Moons. It’s always been myself, Chris Connor on lead guitar, and then we had bassist Billy Zehnal in the band up until last year. We’ve had a rotating extended family of drummers. Billy’s not in the band anymore, and we were also on Vital Companies, which is a studio/label in Columbus that did our previous albums.

https://open.spotify.com/album/04pKByd2ygDHXdvl1TcdWP?si=6njCmRpfR5GRWe5kLNghVw

So this one—it’s a solo one, it’s my first independent release. There’s no label involved, I own the masters to the songs. It’s hard to keep a band together, so Chris, who’s been in the band since the beginning, and I, we’re kind of the only members, and we have an extended family of really great and talented people who have other projects they’re in. It just works a lot better with what I want to do.

YOU USED KICKSTARTER TO HELP FUND THE ALBUM. WHAT WAS THE CROWDFUNDING EXPERIENCE LIKE?

Before, with Vital, they had a studio and video production, and they took care of all of our recording in-house. We didn’t realize how expensive everything was. We had paid for studio time [for 4:30] through show money, but to look at all of the other expenses of making a record happen and trying to get it out there, it’s pretty intense! There have been a lot of independent artists that we know that will do Kickstarters, and I’ve never done anything like it before, so I was really nervous doing it. But it was a success, and I actually just finished sending out all of the preorder vinyl that people ordered.

YOUR SOUND IS OFTEN DESCRIBED AS ANYTHING FROM AMERICANA, TO ALT-COUNTRY, TO PSYCHEDELIC ROCK. WHAT’S IT LIKE WORKING WITHIN THOSE TRADITIONS IN 2019?

You kind of have to make your own path, because although there is a resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll, everything’s been done before. It has those roots, but we’re not breaking the mold or anything. You just have to be true to yourself and to the music, and just go from there. Everyone’s voice is important as an artist, so that’s important to remember.

YOU’RE ON THE ROAD TOURING QUITE A BIT. DO YOU STILL KEEP TRACK OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE COLUMBUS MUSIC SCENE?

Columbus is definitely growing, and moving toward doing things independently. I’ve seen a lot of bands touring, which is good. It’s an affordable place to tour out of, and there’s a community here for sure. Whenever I have a chance, we go out to the shows. We love The Cordial Sins, and we’re having them as our special guests for our album release. The High Definitions, Souther—there are just so many good bands.

When I go to other cities and I realize that there’s not really much of a scene going on, it is kind of cool to see that in Columbus, people are very aware and supportive of musicians. Even the businesses around here, everyone’s trying to work with musicians in some way. There are so many gigs, be it at breweries, at restaurants, or little festivals that pop up. There’s work for musicians here. And some other cities, there’s really not.

IN THE PAST, YOU’VE PLAYED SOMETHING LIKE 150 SHOWS A YEAR. ARE YOU KEEPING UP THE SAME PACE THESE DAYS?

I’m glad that we played that many shows at that time. We were playing anywhere and everywhere, and a lot of that was pressure financially. If that’s the way you’re making a living, you’ve got to take every gig. We’ve spread out the shows since, especially since we have been doing it for this long. We’re kind of gearing more towards quality shows. I will say, playing that many shows—I needed that. We needed the experience, and just the repetition. Every venue is different, every environment, every crowd. You cut your teeth and it makes you stronger.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO LOCAL ARTISTS HOPING TO MAKE A CAREER IN MUSIC?

It’s tough, because for each person it’s so different. Getting out there and working hard, playing as many shows as possible—that's all really great experience. But also focus on the music itself. If you’re going to make a music video or a recording, take your time—don’t half-ass it. Wait until you know what you’re doing. Although, you kind of have to learn from your mistakes, too.

Catch Angela Perley with special guests The Cordial Sins on September 6 at Skully’s Music-Diner for the release show of her new album, titled 4:30.

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(614) Sessions

614 Sessions: Doc Robinson

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4QdxpbrZgg&feature=youtu.be

Doc Robinson, the collaboration of Columbus music stalwarts Jon Elliott and Nick D’Andrea, joined us for this session in the 614 offices to share their unique brand of "Backyard BBQ Breakup music."

While here, the duo played stripped-down acoustic versions of their songs "Wilderness" and "Wild Beauty."

To hear more from Doc Robinson, follow them on your streaming platform of choice, or visit https://www.docrobinsonofficial.com/

Be sure to catch the group at Woodlands Tavern on Saturday, September 21, when they'll be joined by Hebdo, Parker Louis, Honey and Blue and many more for their Family Jamboree.

Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5O0efDEpkqEmWbXD2zpkjz

Apple Music:
https://music.apple.com/us/artist/doc-robinson/1116027164
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Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper, Mike Thomas
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley
Video Editing: Mike Thomas
Contact: [email protected]
Website: 614now.com

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(614) Sessions

(614) Sessions: The Turbos

Mike Thomas

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ThYK1D0000

The Turbos’ high-octane heroics have earned the group a fierce following in the Columbus rock scene and beyond. Combining shredding guitar virtuosity with soaring, anthemic vocals, co-frontmen Alex D. and Lucas Esterline lead the group in a sound that combines the best of the old and the new. Rounded out by the multi-talented Cameron Reck on bass and mononymous local music veteran Jahrie behind the kit, the Turbos are leading the charge for a new generation of rockers.

For the first of what we hope will be many in a new music series we're calling The (614) Sessions, The Turbos joined us in our offices for a stripped-down acoustic set. Despite leaving the electrics at home, the power of their performance was still enough to garner multiple noise complaints (sorry, neighbors).

For show dates and more, be sure to follow The Turbos on Facebook. Big thanks to the group for sharing their music as our first-ever guests in this new endeavor!

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Producer: Mike Thomas
Videographers: Mike Thomas, Adam Fakult, Mitch Hooper
Audio Mixing/Mastering: Jared Huntley Video
Editing: Mitch Hooper
Contact: [email protected]

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