Lettuce – Tickets – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC – January 7th, 2017
All Good Presents...
Doors: 8:00 pm9:30 Club
For more than two decades, Lettuce have brought a new vitality to classic funk, matching their smooth and soulful grooves with a hip-hop-inspired urgency and mastery of beat. Now, on their fourth studio album Crush, drummer Adam Deitch, guitarists Adam Smirnoff and Eric Krasno, bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes, keyboardist Neal Evans, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, and trumpet player Eric Bloom deepen that sound by channeling the sonic freedom and infectious energy of their incendiary live show.
Produced by Lettuce and recorded/mixed by Joel Hamilton at Brooklyn’s Studio G, Crush first came to life on the road, with the band developing new material and testing it out live as they toured. “We’ve all noticed that our music goes into a lot of different directions onstage, and we wanted to capture that in a way that we never really have before,” says Coomes, who names classic psychedelia and ‘90s hip-hop among Lettuce’s key inspirations on Crush. “It’s definitely more wide-open in terms style, but it still stays true to the funk.”
The follow-up to 2012’s Fly, Crush finds Lettuce brilliantly infusing their psychedelic and hip-hop sensibilities into bass-heavy funk. With its spidery guitar work and hypnotic beats, “Phyllis” is a delicately sprawling epic that embodies what Deitch refers to as “a chill-hop vibe that’s kind of the flip-side of all that powerful uptempo funk that people might expect from us.” On “Get Greasy,” Lettuce give a nod to the groove-fueled EDM subgenre known as future funk, building off its highly danceable rhythm with a blissfully loose and horn-laced arrangement. And on “He Made a Woman Out of Me,” guest vocalist Alecia Chakour lends her bluesy growl to a scorching take on Bobbie Gentry’s 1970 country-soul classic.
According to Lettuce, that sense of unity and togetherness has much to do with a camaraderie that’s only intensified over the lifespan of the band. Formed in 1992, when several band members attended a summer program at Boston’s Berklee College of Music as teenagers, Lettuce was founded on a shared love of legendary funk artists like Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power. After returning to Berklee as undergrads in 1994, Lettuce started playing in local clubs and steadily built up a following that soon extended to cities across the country and then throughout the world. Releasing their studio debut Outta Here in 2002 and its follow-up album Rage! in 2009, the band dedicated the coming years to balancing their frequent touring with involvement in a host of other musical endeavors (including Evans and Krasno’s role as founding members of acclaimed soul/jazz trio Soulive).
In recent years, Lettuce have watched their fan base expand as they’ve hit bigger and bigger stages and earned their name as a can’t-miss festival act. And in making Crush, the band had no trouble harnessing the spirit of their explosive live show. “Some of these shows we’ve played over the past couple years have been so amazing, it’s like you go home a different person,” says Coomes. “I’m sure remembering those moments in our minds and our hearts helped bring out something special when we were recording these new songs.”
So while Crush offers everything from all-out party jams to headphone-ready journeys into space funk, each track was born from an unabashed joy and love of live performance. “That energy we get when it’s prime time and we’re about to go onstage and we’re just excited beyond belief—that all came out on this new album,” says Deitch. “There’s a feeling that the band is rising, and it’s a really beautiful thing.”
On their third studio album Sir Nebula, TAUK tap into their singular chemistry to elevate and expand their all-instrumental blend of funk, hip-hop, progressive rock, and jazz. Revealing both their refined musicality and unbridled creativity, the Oyster Bay, New York-bred rock-fusion four-piece (guitarist Matt Jalbert, bassist Charlie Dolan, keyboardist/organist Alric “A.C.” Carter, and drummer Isaac Teel) push into new sonic terrain and build entire worlds within each richly textured soundscape.
From the hazy atmospherics of “Time’s Up” and soaring riffs of “Program Select” to the urgent rhythms of “Shenanigans” and sprawling melodies of “Where You Are,” Sir Nebula finds TAUK introducing a cosmically inspired element to their music. “The album ended up taking on a more ambient kind of vibe than anything we’ve done before—there’s a spaciness in the songs that lets you get lost in the sound,” says Dolan. And while the album is endlessly hypnotic, TAUK also deliver the dynamic tension-and-release jams that have helped earn them a devoted following while drawing critical acclaim (the Washington Post, for one, praised TAUK for “creating a hard-charging, often melodic fusion that—thanks to a penchant for improv—offers limitless possibilities”).
Throughout Sir Nebula—the follow-up to their 2015 live double album HEADROOM—TAUK allow a more free-form, instinct-guided approach to steer their music into bold new directions. “With this record, we felt more comfortable in the studio and got to a new level where we were able to constantly feed off each other, so there was a lot of spur-of-the-moment improvisation that really helped shape the album,” says Jalbert. Adds Carter: “We made a point of trying to express ourselves freely and take risks even when that felt challenging and scary, instead of holding ourselves back and possibly taking something away from the songs.” At the same time, TAUK sharpened their songwriting to craft more intricately layered arrangements and powerfully intense grooves.
As with their past four releases, TAUK created Sir Nebula in collaboration with Grammy Award-winning producer/mixer/engineer Robert Carranza (The Mars Volta, Ozomatli, Jack Johnson, Taj Mahal). But in a departure from their previous work, the band made the album in one concentrated period rather than spacing the recording sessions out in between tours. Holing up at the Solar Powered Plastic Plant in Los Angeles, often pulling 12-hour workdays, TAUK ultimately found the revamped recording process hugely beneficial. “Everything just happened so naturally this time around,” says Jalbert. “I can’t think of one moment where it felt like anything was forced. We were all just completely focused and in the same mindset, which made it this incredibly fun and smooth experience.”
TAUK’s creative connection traces back to childhood, when longtime friends Dolan, Jalbert, and Carter formed their first band in seventh grade and held practice in their school basement. After playing together in various projects over the years, the trio brought Teel into the fold in 2012, cementing the final lineup. “We gelled pretty quickly as friends and as musicians, and now there’s a connection onstage that’s unspoken,” notes Teel. “You just feel it from the energy within the band and from the response coming from the crowd—all these people in the same exact headspace.”
Since their formation, TAUK have shared stages with an impressive list of bands (including Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, Lettuce, and Tim Reynolds & TR3), in addition to appearing at festivals like Electric Forest, Bonnaroo, and The Allman Brothers’ Peach Music Festival. That rigorous touring schedule has gone a long way in strengthening their chemistry, according to Carter. “We’re doing 140 shows a year and we pretty much live with each other, so there’s a healthy respect and trust and love happening there,” he says. “We all have a common goal and an understanding that this is something we’re compelled to do, and that’s definitely brought us close together.” It’s also helped TAUK develop a reputation as a masterful live act: “TAUK is unstoppable,” raved Live for Live Music. “If you haven’t see them, dear God, go.”
Now on the road again (with upcoming dates including a two-night stint at the Brooklyn Bowl and spots on the Hangtown Music Festival, North Coast Music Festival, and Catskill Chill Music Festival), TAUK also have plans to widen their output by composing scores for film and television. In the meantime, the band is focused on instilling their live show with the same kinetic energy and boundless passion that powered the making of Sir Nebula. “Growing up together as musicians and collectively going on this journey—that’s what makes this experience really special,” says Jalbert of TAUK’s continued evolution. “It’s like everything we’ve learned over the years has been funneled into this band, and now it’s taking shape in a really exciting way. We all love what we’re doing, and the band just feels like home.”
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001