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A Year and a Night with G. Love and Special Sauce

A Year and a Night with G. Love and Special Sauce (Steve Oritt)

Since 1993, G. Love and Special Sauce has released eight albums and had over 1500 gigs. Needless to say, the calendar’s been a bit full. Now G. Love is in his 13th year, sitting on a chair in his city of Boston, opening the film “A Year and a Night with G-Love and Special Sauce” in the same place as many before him and after him got their start in Harvard Square.


Drummer Jeffrey “The Hoseman” Clemens recalls the time when they first met, when G. Love rolled up on his skateboard with a guitar in hand. Clemens scammed the board from Love not to ride it but to hide it in the trunk of his car so his “investment” and ticket out of town didn’t get injured in the process.

It’s interesting to see footage of this kind, which gets intimate at times, exposing the dysfunctional aspects of the group’s chemistry while giving the viewer a clearer idea of what goes on behind the scenes and on the road. There are times when bassist Jimi Jazz butts heads with G. Love in a “musical differences” argument about acoustic versus electronic bass and what Jazz wears on stage. Personally, I vote in favor having the Jazz live up to his name a bit and leave the jam band look in the dust. But that’s just me.

Jimi is feeling good though, arriving at our Denver International Airport buzzed on Bloody Marys as they come to Colorado in March of last year, where the band is “fuckin’ unprepared” for our cold weather. But off they go to play Vail, and later, we see G. Love a little warmer with guitar in hand standing on his balcony, confessing that he and his girlfriend had broken up days later as he plays what he feels is one of his best songs, “Give Me Some Lovin’ Pride.”

Day 52 of the tour and they’re on to Santa Cruz, pulling out Busta Rhymes lines and drinking after the show with a number of attractive women, which probably made it a bit easier to get over the ex. Then it’s off to the college party city, Chico.

Spotlighting Mark Boyce who came on in 2006, you can see and hear how his keyboard licks rounded out their sound. Typically the keyboardist is the most mellow member of a group. Not this guy. He was sweating as hard if not harder than the rest of ‘em.

As the band goes from city to city and you see the number of days on the road going up and up, you gotta give them credit for their endurance. “I’m totally just upside down right now,” G. Love says, as he runs down the list of places he’s been in just the last week or so, “I’ve been from Bonnaroo, to Boston, to Japan, Tokyo to Chicago…Chicago to Philly, Philly to Amsterdam.”

Now in Amsterdam, the band is obviously taking advantage of the city’s culture, passing a little smoky-smoke around the stage and even handing off the treat to one of the fans. I think director/camera guy Steve Oritt took a toke or two as well, since the focus went fuzzy for a bit of time.

Quiet up until now, the Oritt gets a little his smart-ass on, asking Jeff, “Did you parachute in here?” The question is hilarious when you see the drummer, who is donning what seems to be something between an army issue jumpsuit and a get up you might find in the Castro on a Saturday night.

The verbal punches continue as Jimi spouts at his bandmate, obviously annoyed by some action or comment, “Jeff you can suck my cock”

Jeff promptly replies with, “What, that little cocktail thing?”

Jimi calmly talks to the camera a bit later, stating in a matter-of-fact way, “It’s interesting that we’re still functioning after so long, ‘cause we can’t stand each other.”

Granted, life as a “rock star” who has the money to travel in this way and do so in an actual tour bus (versus sleeping on floors and riding in a Ford van) does beat the life of being a short-sleeved-dress-shirt-stuck-in-cubicle as a specialist in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration, but it’s not as glamorous as some might think. Sometimes leotards catch on fire in the tour bus, and then things really get thrown into disarray.

“A Year and a Night…” is a bit like watching a hipper family vacation video, where after a while, being with the same people day in and day out is a bit trying on the nerves. But you also see how these guys have become a family. Even if the dinner table at Thanksgiving is a little tense, you still know that you all love each other at the end of the day. That unconditional kind, which you see during Special Sauce group hugs at their shows. Dysfunctional? Probably. But whatever skewed, nicotine induced sauce recipe they have, it’s still working.


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