Steam-rolling into South Florida on the home stretch of their explosive Vibe UP Winter Tour 2019, future funk-hop cosmonauts Lettuce will descend on Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale on February 15th. Embracing the improvisational ethos of titans like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and in recent years even a Jerry Garcia, Lettuce shows are nothing if not unpredictable. Longtime fans and newbies alike best prepare for a sonic tour de force as the band continues to astound audiences around the globe with their patented brand of psychedelic funk, Go-Go, soulful old-school R&B, rare groove, and instrumental hip-hop.
The current (and strongest) incarnation of Lettuce includes founding members Adam Deitch (drums), Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff (guitar), Ryan Zoidis (saxophone and MIDI synth) and E.D. “Jesus” Coomes (bass). The core four have always been the anchor of this collective as other players have passed thru the LETT ranks. They’ve pledged undying allegiance, and it shows in the art, on the stage and off. It’s safe to say that Eric Benny Bloom (trumpet) and the inimitable Nigel Hall (keyboards and vocals) have more than earned their place in the LETT lexicon over the past decade, and their contributions and personalities are as key to the alchemy of this band as the aforementioned founders. It’s this spiritual connection between the life-long friends and collaborators that manifests the magic inside of the music.
The original band first came together in 1992 when the guys were still in High School, linking up and vibing out at a summer program for musical prodigies at the distinguished Berkeley School of Music in Boston. The individual members always pulled in myriad directions by some of the biggest artists in pop, rock and hip hop, so Lettuce never really got off the ground after their 2002 debut album Outta Here and 2003 follow-up Live in Tokyo. That all changed with the release of 2008’s seismic thunderclap RAGE, and the band dedicated themselves to LETT full time in the decade since. The result of this fearless focus and determination is evidenced in their meteoric rise to prominence and the reverence of their peers, and it’s on kaleidoscopic display nightly within their songcraft and performances. Embracing the jam culture demand of different sets every night, Lettuce has evolved into an anomaly; they’re not just the best at what they do, nobody else can do it like they do.
2018 was a banner, crowning year for Lettuce as they continued their wildly-popular annual traditions RAGE Rocks (Red Rocks in June) and RAGE Fest (NOLA Jazz Fest in May) but broke through the stratosphere last August when Bob Weir and John Mayer sat in with them at LOCK’N in Virginia. They followed that earth-shattering Jerry Garcia Band tribute with a black-tie collaboration in Denver with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, an instant-epic that was professionally documented for a future official release.
No stranger to the Sunshine State, Lettuce were a host band for eight gloriously groovy Novembers at the now-defunct Bear Creek Music and Art Festival, a long-lost gem of a gathering that took place at the mystical Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. It was at Bear Creek that the mighty Lettuce truly made their bones, double shots each and every year. They would ceremoniously descend from the LETT-mobile onto their Amphitheater Stage throne and bless the people with an experience that was, quite frankly, unparalleled. They’ve returned to SOSMP subsequently for behemoth throwdowns at Suwannee Hulaween and Purple Hatters Ball several times over. Lettuce has decimated this very room, having stormed through after Jam Cruise in January 2015 to a raucous, ravenous reception. The band clearly treasures it’s storied history with the state of Florida.
The celebrated ensemble spent the better part of 2017 and 2018 working out material that will appear on their still-untitled fifth full-length LP, due this Spring. The long-awaited album, recorded primarily at Sonic Ranch Studio in Tornillo, TX, has been discussed in the press for even longer; first it was confirmed that D’angelo’s right hand man Russ Elevado (Voodoo) would be engineering the record, with drummer Adam Deitch publicly stating that over thirty songs had been recorded and saxophonist Ryan Zoidis hinting at multiple volumes or releases. Meanwhile, on the road, the band has been absolutely destroying the new joints on a nightly basis; the 808-drenched “Trapezoid,” “Purple Cabbage” embedded with Dillagence, Type II jamming extrapolates within “Gang Ten,” and each has served as a mammoth centerpiece to their revolutionary live set in spite of the fact that most audiences are relatively unfamiliar with this material. Lettuce has continued the trend of breaking in the newness onstage with the hip-hop park jam “KHRU,” “Shmink Dabby Kane,” the four-on-the-floor “House of LETT,” and most recently, the majestic “Silence is Golden.”
Never fear, the band still uncorks dynamite versions of their most beloved tunes and digs up the deepest cuts too. Material from Outta Here, RAGE, FLY and CRUSH populate their setlists regularly reminding everyone where they came from. Better yet, LETT has made it a custom to rework, rewire, remix and re-imagine their own compositions utilizing the streamlined, kinetic chemistry that has only been solidified as the new lineup continues to coalesce. This is best evidenced by the numerous segues and hip-hop detours that the boys clearly enjoy treating their most devoted fans; it’s not uncommon for the krewe to dip into samples that are the foundation to the soundtrack of our youth. Always boom-bap hip-hop heads, LETT is also known to unleash the elements of timeless tracks from Eric B & Rakim, D’angelo, A Tribe Called Quest, and even Mobb Deep or the Geto Boys among countless others.
Lettuce welcomes Florida’s favorite gospel funk son Roosevelt Collier for direct support, an appropriate opener as there is a longstanding relationship there by way of the Suwannee River.