Boston's other green monster - the legendary funk band Lettuce - spread their leafy wings to fill up Raleigh's Ritz for a massive two-hour Saturday night dance party of epic proportions. Almost three decades into their feast, they still boast four original members (Shmeeans, Jesus, Zwad & Deitch) with Bloom & Nigel rounding out the crop. The new album "Elevate" - the fifth mighty release in just four years - recently earned the group their first Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
Opening act Ghost-Note was the perfect appetizer to wet the whistle. Featuring Snarky Puppy drummers Robert "Sput" Searight and Nate Werth leading a revolving cast of characters, their unique technique blended groovy hard funk with jazz, rock, world, hip hop and electronic overtones. With colossal gusts of intensity, they electrified the room and superbly set the stage for the onslaught to come.
Lettuce rolled into the capital city and heated up a brisk autumn evening with their multicultural stew, with a slew of ingredients taking turns to boil to the surface before gracefully receding into the bed as another flavor washed over your earbuds. Saxophone, trumpet, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals all fit together perfectly, like a jigsaw puzzle bobbing in the ocean tide. Drifting from deep funk to soul jazz to fiery R&B to psychedelic groove, they took listeners on a world tour of rhythm, cracking open cultures and jumping through genres like spinning the dial on the earth's biggest radio.
Their playful philosophy bent and shaped the music into pretzel-like configurations to suit their momentary mood before twisting into alternate dispositions. From dark and spooky Halloween anti-grooves to gleefully life-affirming moments of musical bliss, they produced powerful bursts of energy with heavy tones punctuating the proceedings. Theirs is an epic, cinematic sound, like if funk music played when the cowboy kicks in the saloon doors to fight the evil rancher and save the town. The joyous pulse and swing fosters a fist-in-the-air exhortation of funk, freedom and frivolity. Highly recommended for your next balanced meal!
- Paul Kerr
- Photos by Justin Barnett