MusicMarauders Presents: Two Nights of Lettuce 5.31 & 6.1


Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel


Since the first time I saw Lettuce, they have been one of my favorite funk bands in the game... perhaps my favorite ever. Their largely instrumental funk rolled in like a turbo-charged steamroller. Relentless, boiling, dirty funk overflowed and mingled with a writhing mass of partying peeps. The result was fun, sweaty, and slightly claustrophobic (but far too much fun for me to care).

Friday night at Cervantes was fire from the gate. Their boisterous bassist, Jesus Coomes, wasted no time in bounding around the stage and welcoming Denver to the show. Coomes and drum guru, Adam Deitch, dropped a robust and firm basis for the filthiest funk imaginable. The "Shady Horns" laid intricate horn arrangements that seemed to fit in like tiny tiles in a mosaic. At times their parts were explosive, blaring a warning like the horns of a train about to barrel through an intersection. Apt, considering the funky Amtrak train that left me crumpled in the tracks. Guitarist, Adam "Schmeeans" Schmirnoff, provided rhythm guitar so energetic and funky it was like Richard Simmons at a PFunk show. His crisp and concise work rarely took the forefront, but was supportive and melded into the overall sound phenomenally.

Neil Evans, Soulive's keyboard wizard, manned the boards and sent sizzling organ frills flying like confetti at the Super Bowl. His sensibility was commendable, and he (like every other member of the band) played like mad without overstepping his bounds. The balance and talent of this band was as much in their complimentary playing as it was in their individual skill. But what really brought the music home was guitar master, Eric Krasno. His improvised lines inter-played with strongly composed notes to boggle minds and weave throughout the music like embroidery through fabric. He was a master displaying his skill with authority, finesse, confidence, and vigor. His versatile sounds ranged from dreamy (but not sleepy) to scalding with every funky flavor in between. Krasno, a member of several projects, has brought a historical element to each one, highlighting various points in the evolution of funk, soul, jazz, r&b, blues and hip hop in his sound and his choices. It has always been fun, entertaining, and of the highest quality.

Friday night was a party, second set was peppered with guests including Nigel Hall, Kim Dawson (Motet), Dominic Lali (Big Gigantic), and most of Dumpstaphunk (Nikki Glaspie, Ian Neville, and Ivan Neville). It was a star-studded stage going off, and the crowd loved it. A friend of mine made note that sometimes guests can get distracting, and can limit song choices to covers they all know. His point was taken, and I noticed that first set had been more energetic.

Saturday was another hot one. I arrived a little earlier and had a chance to take in the opening band, The London Souls featuring Eric Krasno. Their interesting blend of funk, rock, and reggae undertones reminded me of Marley, Hendrix, the Meters, and more. I enjoyed their energy, and their music was upbeat and positive. It didn't hurt that Krasno endorsed them by playing off of their grooves through their entire set. When they finished their set, I saw Eric Krasno tell an excited London Souls frontman, Tash Neal, "They liked it, man!"

When Lettuce took the stage, we braced ourselves for another round of breakneck funk. First set may not have been quite the same explosion as Friday, but second set was a knockout. While many of Friday's special guests were spotted in attendance, Nigel Hall made the only guest appearance. The rest of them were there simply to enjoy the show... a feat they undoubtedly accomplished. After two nights my love for Lettuce only deepened. The intricacies in their music were lofty, and the pure uppercut of funk left the whole crowd knocked out. My only complaint was that the room was oversold, an expectation that will remain any time Lettuce brings their band of super funk to Denver. After months of anticipation, the two night Lettuce run was over, and I was already looking forward to the next time.

www.lettucefunk.com

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