G. Love can find inspiration in the most peculiar of places like, say, the inside of a Holiday Inn hotel room.
"I think I'm gonna call my next song "Living at the Holiday Inn,'" he says, talking on his phone from the hotel. G. Love's been living at one in Brookline, Mass., to stay close to his child before starting a tour. "After we're done talking, I'll probably sit down and try to knock that one out."
Few artists can make songs out of such bizarre concepts so casually. In a time when some musicians take themselves and their music deadly seriously, G. Love and Special Sauce is one of the few acts whose music is just about relaxing and bumming out.
Most of G. Love's music is a combination of blues and funk, infused with a sort of alternative hip-hop. His most recent release, Oh Yeah, features recordings he made as an 18- and 19-year-old street musician in Boston. The songs are available digitally on iTunes and feature the original recordings.
G. Love cut 250 cassettes of those original recordings, selling them on the street and sending others to music executives.
"It's definitely raw, just me playing solo acoustic," says G. Love, whose real name is Garrett Dutton. "I'm going a million miles an hour. I sound young on it. It was right when I was at the height of what I was doing at the time, which was being a solo acoustic street guitar player."
One tape landed him his first manager, whose clientele included a porn star, a washed-up boxer and a New Kids on the Block rip-off called Strike 2.
"I don't know what the hell I was doing with that," G. Love says. "But he liked the song "Sauce.' He called me after I sent him my tape and was like, "This "Sauce" is a hit.' And that was my first hit song, as it turned out. So it was definitely the start of my career."
Since then, G. Love has found success with eight albums, including a greatest hits disc. His two latest efforts were recorded for Jack Johnson's Brushfire label. The label has given rise to a sort of tight-knit, semi-similar artistic group: Johnson, Ben Harper, Donovan Frankenreiter, etc.
G. Love's 2006 release, Lemonade, features collaborations with those artists, plus Marc Broussard and Blackalicious, among others.
"Definitely the last couple years, Jack's thing has gotten so huge, and everyone's been doing so well," he says. "So everyone groups this roots music together. Xavier Rudd, John Butler Trio, me, Jack all of us are sort of in this acoustic, folksy music. Everybody knows each other from gigging together, so everyone's like, "Let's do something,' and then we're like, "OK, let's do it right now.' So it's pretty easy to make happen."
In the mean time, G. Love will continue to find inspiration in all the oddest places.
"Tunes come to me knock on wood pretty easy," he says. "The challenge is: What do you do with your songs [that] you've been playing so long to keep it fresh? And what we do is, every night, we just fuck with them a little bit. Mix it up. See what directions we can take the jams.
"It's still working."
G. Love & Special Sauce
Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson St., Denver
Friday, Jan. 19, 8:30 p.m. (with Matt Costa); Saturday, Jan. 20, 8:30 p.m. (with DJ Nu-Mark)
Tickets: $25, or a two-night pass for $40; visit ticketmaster.com.