IS HE BLUE?

G. LOVE & SPECIAL SAUCE PLAY THE BLUES THE NEW-FASHIONED WAY.

The numbers on Special Sauce, the first fruit of this deal, are a varied lot, ranging from the wonderfully superficial "Cold Beverage" and "Shooting Hoops," a simple basketball ode, to the self-referential "Blues Music" and "Garbage Man," a strong track that seems to be about homelessness and curbside romance, in that order. But the compositions aren't the real draw here. Rather, it's the loose, seemingly spontaneous interaction of the musicians. Clemons's drumming represents the height of sloppiness, but when combined with Prescott's similarly unhinged bass, it provides the tunes with unexpected momentum. Love bounces off this rhythmic backdrop with abandon: His guitar-playing is noisy, his harmonica-blowing is heartfelt, and his John Lee Hooker-in-training vocals make up in charm what they lack in authenticity. Love will never pass for a Delta bluesman, but he's pretty good at channeling them.

Of course, none of these skills sounds like a recipe for success, Nineties style; unless Eric Clapton's playing them, the blues are heard on the air about as often as intelligent political discussion. But the Sauce's hip-hop edge, as well as the sheer novelty of the group's performances, has helped the disc make inroads at modern-rock radio. Does it surprise Love that his work's getting spun on outlets dominated by alternative music that's--

"Cheesy? Ridiculous? Overproduced?" Love interjects. "To me, actually, it's really weird. I don't really know about that stuff that they play on those stations, man, but I'm just glad that people are getting the chance to hear some real music, you know? I feel like I'm on a mission to play and take the music back where it was.

"I'm not saying my music is better than anybody else's, or that my art is more worthy than theirs. I'm not saying that I'm anything, all right? All I'm saying is that it's cool that, like, I get to have my say in front of a lot of people every day. It's about the music, man. After all the shows and all the videos and all the hype and all the interviews, it's just me and my guitar."

And that's how it could stay, Love adds. He's been writing songs at an impressive clip, but many of them may land on a thus-far-unscheduled solo album. He's committed to recording a new Special Sauce disc beginning later this month, but he seems fairly unenthusiastic about the prospect of making it. Then again, he seems fairly unenthusiastic--and a bit defensive--about nearly every topic of conversation. These reactions are understandable, he explains, because "there are a lot of people out there trying to make me out to be something that I'm not."

And what's that?
"I don't know, man," says Garrett Dutton III. "Whatever."
G. Love & Special Sauce, with Black Beans. 9 p.m. Thursday, March 2, Fox Theatre, 1135 13th Street, Boulder, $8.40, 447-0095 or 830-

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