SCA Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps 1989
Back before he became G. Love of G. Love and Special Sauce, Garrett Dutton spent a summer working the trails as part of SCA’s Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps. When he wasn’t swinging his pulaski or hiking to the tops of various mountains, he was playing his guitar around the campfire, experimenting with the blues stylings that would later form the backbone of G. Love and Special Sauce’s sound. He found some time to talk with us while on tour for his latest album, “Sugar,” out earlier this year on Brushfire Records.
How do you try and keep things eco-friendly while you’re out on tour? We’re on Brushfire Records, Jack Johnson’s label, and the whole Brushfire family is encouraged to use music as a force to help better the world and the environment. 1% of the label’s sales go to environmental causes through 1% for the Planet. Unfortunately, being on the road you’re getting around in a big tour bus, which obviously isn’t great for the environment, but we try to make up for that by helping out organizations that are doing good work. Also, we cut our new record at Jack’s Solar Powered Plastic Plant.
You and Jack Johnson both make music that’s associated with sun and fun and surfing, with getting outside and enjoying life. As artists connected to the great outdoors, what role do you see yourself playing in conservation?
Well, a lot of artists talk about saving the world, but Jack really put his money where his mouth is. We were all on tour a couple years ago and all the profits went to environmental groups all over the world. We raised like 25 million dollars on just that one tour. Being part of that family and that effort is something that I’m really proud of, and that I really enjoy.
Your current tour stopped in Jackson, WY. Did you get to sneak up to Yellowstone?
Aw man, I wasn’t able to get there this time, but as you know I spent a month there with SCA when I was in high school one summer working on the trails for the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps. That was just an amazing time, I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget hiking to the top of Electric Peak – the highest mountain in that range. I remember most clearly getting to the very top and finding this elk antler that someone had put up there that was bleached white and thinking someday I’m gonna walk back up here with my kid, come to the very tip-top, and see if this thing is still there.
You were quoted a few years ago as saying “that time was magical.” What was it that made it so special?
It was a real kind of coming of age trip. I was seventeen and just getting heavy into my music, starting to make the transition from really being influenced by Bob Dylan and the Beatles to being influenced by Jon Hammond and the blues. I remember I did a lot of writing out there. There was this big rock on the side of Sportsman’s Lake and I would just sit up there and play my guitar. It was a pretty amazing trip and a lot of hard work!
Did your time with SCA have any influence on your early G. Love material?
Well, I was the guy on the trail with the guitar! I’d play around the campfire every night with everybody. At that point I’d been writing songs for a couple years — Bob Dylan-style folk and singer/songwriter stuff — but I had just that year gotten into the Blues, and there was this girl, Kirsten, that I kind of had a trail crush on who I’d play all my tunes for. She liked the folk songs better, but of course I ended up really going with the blues…
What led you to SCA in the first place? How did the experience match up with your objectives or expectations?
A friend of mine had done it the summer before and recommended it as a way of getting out of your comfort zone and going on an adventure. I’d been car camping with my family before, but I didn’t really know what to expect. You get there to the Yellowstone backcountry and there are all these rules meant to keep you from attracting bears to your campsite, but then you meet your crew leader and crewmates from all areas of the country and all walks of life, and you end up making these great connections. I’ll never forget it. It’s one of the greatest things I did during my high school years, for sure.
You’re from Philly. Do you have any favorite parks or hiking spots in the area?
Oh yeah, that was one of the things I loved about living in Philly. I grew up in the city and I always kind of romanticized being able to just up and get away, from it all. Philly actually has one of the biggest urban parks in the country, Fairmount Park, and it was really cool to be able to drive 15 minutes out of downtown Philly and be surrounded by a beautiful forest. I’d hike around in there almost every day.
Photos, top to bottom, by Emmett Malloy and Rob D. Cohen
Read Jay Satz’s brief history of the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Corps here.