Garrett Dutton, a.k.a. G. Love of G. Love and Special Sauce.

@kaelanbarowsky

The first annual Cape Cod Roots and Blues Festival will take place at Nauset Beach on September 15

By Rebecca Angel Baer

Nearly nightly for the last quarter of a century, Garrett Dutton’s evening routines have looked relatively the same. In the back halls of clubs, theaters, and amphitheaters all around the world, Dutton gathers with band mates Jimi ‘Jazz’ Prescott and Jeffrey ‘Houseman’ Clemens for a brief, adrenalin pumping cardio session of jumping jacks and stretches, followed by a group huddle and an exchange of encouraging words, have a great show fellas. The three men then part ways and take their respective places in the wings on the sides of the stage.

One more member of his road family, Frank, then greets Dutton with the final touch to his stage armor. Lovingly referred to as “Big Frank,” the guitar tech presents Dutton with a black leather book. He opens the book and reveals about a dozen harmonicas. Dutton reviews the set list in his head before choosing which key harmonica to select before placing it into the rack that rests on his shoulders and turning towards the stage. A voice booms over the speakers, “Ladies, G. Love and Special Sauce!”

Dutton and his band then take the stage and face the sea of adoring fans and cell phone screens held above their heads that have faithfully attended their shows for the last 25 years. That is a significant period of time, securing their music veteran status, but it never gets old for Dutton, as he described the rush he still feels every time he takes the stage, on a recent phone call with Coastal Living.

“It’s a combination of a little stage fright, a little excitement, a little anticipation, a deep felt joy for getting the opportunity to go on stage and play my music every night.”

Dutton has taken his brand of self-proclaimed hip-hop blues all around the world and it’s safe to say he’s checked off a lot of boxes on his professional to-do list. He’s seen it, done it, and probably played that room—twice. But come September 15, 2018, the rocker will experience something new. He’s going to headline his very own music festival in Cape Cod, the culmination of a long time dream come true.

“I feel like over the past 25 years, one of the greatest parts of my jobs as been…to rub shoulders with, perform with, write music with, share the stage with such tremendous musical talent all over the world and the friendships that I’ve been able to make with musicians—its been a magical part of my life,” Dutton said.

After years of playing festivals himself, he realized he’d earned his stripes, and that this was a bit of a full circle moment.

“So long story short, it’s just from being able to play with people I’ve grown up idolizing to {playing with} people who’ve I’ve influenced.”

The first annual Cape Cod Roots & Blues Festival will take place on Saturday, September 15 from noon until 6pm and feature performances from 4 bands: Ron Artis II & The Truth, Ripe, Citizen Cope in a solo performance, and of course, G. Love and Special Sauce will serve as headliner.

The festival will be held at Nauset Beach, which happens to be where Dutton, his girlfriend and sons call home when they aren’t on the road these days and they’ve really fallen in love with the area.

“It seems like the best kept secret, I almost don’t want to talk about it. It’s so beautiful up here,” laughed Dutton.

He went on to describe it as “where the forest meets the ocean.”

While the Dutton family isn’t home often, when they are, they feel truly connected to both the land and the community and this played a part in the decision to hold the festival here as well.

“There are a lot of live music lovers, and there are some good live music venues but there is not really a solid music festival out here that this community wants. So {I thought} what can I bring to better my new community?”

WATCH: Perfect Weekend in Cape Cod

But he’s not just stopping at sharing his music with his new neighbors. The waters off the shores of Cape Cod are once again a thriving natural habitat for marine life—including great white sharks. Dutton, an avid surfer and advocate for ocean conservancy, is donating a portion of the festival’s proceeds to the newly formed Friends Nauset Beach—a group aimed at keeping the beach clean and beautiful and protecting the natural habitat. There will also be a booth set up on site with representatives from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy to educate concertgoers about how to better protect these fierce predators and the oceans they call home.

Dutton often steps up to use his platform to assist causes about which he feels passionately. It is comes as naturally to him as is his guitar playing.

“To me it never seems quite enough to say ‘oh we’re playing a show and you’re gonna pay for it and come enjoy it’…And more and more that doesn’t seem like enough that if I go play a show and you pay us to watch—and people are happy to do that. It is a business and we should get paid, but the point is this; I just feel more like that’s not enough to save the world.”

He realizes that the first year out, this festival won’t be a huge moneymaker or make a massive impact for global ocean preservation but that it could make a big impact on his small beach community and that’s a start.

“On a local level be good to your neighbors, be good to your environment and try to do the right thing around your specific environment and then from there it emanates outward.”

After 25 years, Dutton is also reflective about time passing and that as he’s aged, so too have his fans. He’s a father of two now and he views music festivals as a different kind of experience these days. That is why he’s designed his event to be during the day, on the beach, and family friendly. There is even a child’s ticket available for just $6.

“Hey man, nothing makes a party better than having kids around I think! Especially a festival because kids have such a love for music, and they bring the energy, and they love to dance. They’ll get the party started,” he said over sounds of giggles and glee from Dutton’s two year old son, Lewis that filled the background of our phone call.

He also realizes that he’s entered that sacred space of having a long enough career that as fans bring their kids to shows, those kids are growing up now and coming on their own. G. Love and Special Sauce now have second-generation fans.

“That’s the whole thing about music. When you present a record, people are literally letting you into their home. You’re really becoming a part of the culture of their life and their family and the background {music} to their life and that’s a real honor when you think about it, you know? It’s a special thing.”

Reflective, and spreading his wings into various ventures, but make no mistake, at just 45, Dutton is not slowing the music down. Not one bit. So grab your beach blanket and head up to the Cape for what is sure to be an awesome day on the picturesque New England coast, but if you can’t make it there, be sure to check out G. Love and Special Sauce next time the band rolls through your town.

“It’s not so much about what songs you play or how great you play. It’s the feeling that you bring, and the passion you bring and the love you bring and the inspiration you bring. That’s really what people are coming (for). Because anybody can play the guitar and anybody can sing, most people can do it a lot better than me, I just happen bring enough love to make people happy. And that’s what I do. And I won’t stop until I feel like everybody’s happy or they’ve left,” he said with a chuckle.

To buy tickets and more festival information check out the website here or follow on instagram or Twitter. A VIP experience is also available the night before the festival.