Lettuce is bringinG their UNIFY tour to Madison. It’s needed everywhere!! Unify, their 8th studio album and 3rd consecutive record made at Denver’s Colorado Sound Studios, completing a loose trilogy starting with 2019’s Grammy-nominated Elevate, and continuing with 2020’s Resonate. It’s also a benchmark moment for the sextet: Adam Deitch (drums), Ryan Zoidis (saxophone), Adam Smirnoff (guitar), Erick Coomes (bass), Nigel Hall (keyboards/vocals), Eric ‘Benny’ Bloom (trumpet). Approaching 30 years since its humble Boston beginnings, the relentlessly soulful funk outfit has essentially lived on the road, embodying, night after night, the sly wink of its moniker: Let us play! And now, endorsed on Unify by none other than the legendary icon of funk, Bootsy Collins, singing & playing bass on “Keep That Funk Alive”. The roots of Unify took hold several years back, when Lettuce assembled at Colorado Sound to begin work on Elevate. Armed with dozens of songs, the band tracked enough material for that record, its successor, and then some (including a vinyl-only, 45-minute, live-in-the-studio, one-take improvisation, Vibe). A pandemic-abbreviated European tour schedule in 2021 further inspired, as the group traded ideas for more new material. A totally collaborative effort, there were exciting cuts full of brilliant lyrics & arrangements from Hall. And fiery horn parts from Bloom. Plus, the tantalizing prospect of unveiling it all on the upcoming tour. Epitomizing the funk and the fun, it’s impossible for “Keep That Funk Alive,” not to be a focus track, even on a 16-song album full of highlights. Inspired by a buoyant Bootsy Instagram post and an irrepressible groove crafted around it. The venerable Parliament-Funkadelic bassist dug the hybridized creation, laying down low end and vocals on the proper track. “It’s such a dream to have one of the inventors of funk music bless this album. We are all STILL in awe!” exclaims the band. This album is an expression that is pure Lettuce. Unify will teleport you to a funky galaxy far, far away, where all life coexists as one in peace, love, harmony, and music!
I had the pleasure of catching up with Adam Deitch ahead of the maGical night of March 23rd when Lettuce brings that thang they do to Madison at The Majestic. Adam and I get into what any newbie to their scene could expect from heading out for this Unity tour event. We spend a good amount of time discussing how the album took shape and how the stretching out of these tracks live has taken new shapes after the pandemic. I am always interested in artists that play well with others and Lettuce, Adam, these cats seem to fit that mold, so we get into a recent opportunity they had to work on a track for the upcoming album “Late Night Basie”, celebrating some of the tunes of Count Basie. That focus track from Unity featuring Bootsy is so cool, we had to talk about how that went down and the cool it has kept going. Adam and I share a mutual brother in Mister Rourke, so we take the time machine back to a group they were both in called Fatbag. Oh yes we did!! EarGrab this chat and go check out Lettuce live – its healthy for you.
Photo: Jeremy Elder