“Casinos in general have a steely, corporate vibe,” says Garrett Dutton, the G. Love of G. Love & Special Sauce. “But Harrah’s Tahoe has a rootsy crowd, and it’s always a joy to play there.”
He’s scheduled to do so Saturday night, accompanied for the first time in the area by folk-rock musician Matt Costa.
“Northern Nevada has always been full of surprises,” Dutton says. “Years and years ago, we were on tour with Joan Osborne and were following her tour bus in two vans up from Vegas where we had played the night before. We drove up to the Reno Hilton and there was a big marquee with our band’s name in the biggest letters it had ever been. We were so proud. Then all of a sudden we were surrounded by state troopers.”
It seemed the officers had seen one of the van drivers with a bottle. It turned out to be root beer but “they found a tiny piece of pot, like it had fallen off the end of a joint,” Dutton says. “Nevada was zero tolerance and they took (the driver) off in cuffs, then found out he had a warrant from Delaware, so they shipped him back there.
“Welcome to Reno,” Dutton adds.
Hailing from Philadelphia, the band – Dutton (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Jeffrey Clemens (drums) and Jim Prescott (bass) – is celebrating its 20th year, but Dutton is not surprised by the longevity: “The thing about rock ’n’ is it keeps going.”
Not that G. Love & Special Sauce are especially rock ’n’ roll. Their music is more a mix of hip-hop and blues, a mix for which they have become renowned.
Early last year, the band released its latest album, “Sugar,” and Dutton is “happy with it – no, really ecstatic about it. It’s a real, clear cut return to the blues with hip-hop infusions, of course. It’s soulful. It’s raw. It’s real. It’s been out nine months now and is doing well, but it takes time to soak in and spread out.”
Meanwhile, he’s still on the road, seemingly tirelessly, but there are differences from the old days.
“I’m 42,” he says. “My drummer is 50, and it takes a little bit longer to recover the next day. Travel kind of wears on me. I’m more marinated now, more seasoned, have less to prove, but also have a lot more confidence.” (6:30 p.m.; $33; www.ticketmaster.com)