music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Lettuce

December 9, 2017 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski

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Lettuce is one of those bands that seems to have been on the scene forever, and there’s a good reason for that. They have been a band now for over 25 years, ever since meeting at Berklee College of Music as teenagers. Starting out as kids just asking bars and club owners to “let us play” (hence the name), this band has grown not only to become a premier modern funk and jazz band but has also spun off many successful bands, from soul to funk to electronica. But they always seem to come back to Lettuce, the funk powerhouse that started it all.

While Lettuce first got together in 1992, it was a decade before they actually recorded an album. They began seriously gigging in 1994 and developed a respectable following on both U.S. coasts as well as in Japan. Lettuce was a jumping off point for the members, who went on to form groups such as Soulive and Break Science before Lettuce ever released an album. They always came back together as a group, and Lettuce was seen as a hub that kept the members joined together no matter what other band they were playing in. Fans of these other groups would look at Lettuce shows as special events that would bring all of these different parts of the Lettuce family together. Over the past few years the members have shifted their focus back to Lettuce periodically, leading to the release of some great studio albums and some excellent live shows and tours.

The band’s first release was 2002’s Outta Here, which was quickly followed by Live in Tokyo in 2004. Both of these albums were well received from fans of the band, and the band continued playing and touring sporadically. Lettuce would continue to take a back seat to their other projects, however. In 2009 they got back together for another new studio album, Rage! Since that time, they’ve consistently released new material every couple of years, and they pulled some focus back to the band to allow more time to tour.

This increase in output from Lettuce led to an increase in their fanbase and wider recognition. They had always had the respect of venues and promoters due to their musicianship and their other work, but they were able to get more love from casual fans when they were spending more time on the road. This showed through when their albums Fly and Crush both ended up high on the U.S. Jazz charts, despite the band being more of a funk group. They were never one to wear a single label, however, and the recognition for what they were able to do was well deserved. The continued to put out music on their own terms, with the short album Mt. Crushmore being released just a year after Crush in 2016. This hard hitting album was, in my opinion, the album that best captured their live, heavy, funk sound. They recently followed this up with Witches Stew. This very jazzy album was a clear tribute to Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and a massive departure for the band, substituting their typically danceable funk sound for a much more mellow and laid back groove. While not my favorite Lettuce album, it showed their massive range as a band, especially when contrasted with their previous 3 funk-filled albums.

I’ve loved seeing Lettuce move from a part-time project into a full time funk powerhouse. While all of the members have been well respected for decades, there’s something special that happens when they get on stage together. They’re a band that puts on a show and a party like few others can match. They’re always worth checking out either through their albums or live.

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Dead & Company reschedule dates
Dead & Company guitarist John Mayer had his appendix removed earlier this week, causing the postponement of the final three Dead & Company shows of 2017. The shows have been rescheduled, with the New Orleans show set for 2/24, Ft. Lauderdale for 2/26, and Orlando for 2/27.

Dark Star Jubilee announces lineup
Dark Star Orchestra’s annual Dark Star Jubilee festival announced their lineup this week. Along with 3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra the festival will feature 2 Hot Tuna sets, Los Lobos, The Infamous Stringdusters, Melvin Seals & DSO doing a JGB set, The Nth Power, Rumpke Mountain Boys, and many others.

Blue Ox Festival announces lineup
The BLue Ox Festival will take place in Eau Claire, WI from June 14-16. The festival will feature a variety of acoustic bands, including Greensky Bluegrass, The Devil Makes Three, Sam Bush, Del McCoury Band, Margo Price, The Infamous Stringdusters, Billy Strings, and many others.

Lotus announce dates
Lotus will be on the road through early March at this point. The band announced a run of dates that includes California, Colorado, and a handful of other scattered dates.

December 29 Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live
December 30 Buffalo, NY – Buffalo RiverWorks
December 31 Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
January 17-22 Miami, FL – Jam Cruise
February 7 Morgantown, WV – Mainstage Morgantown
February 8 Columbus, OH – Express Live!
February 9 Chicago, IL – Vic Theatre
February 10 Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
February 11 Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Cafe
February 14 Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory Concert House
February 15 Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
February 16 Berkeley, CA – The UC Theatre
February 17 Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theatre
February 18 San Diego, CA – Music Box
February 21 Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
February 22 Aspen, CO – Belly Up Aspen
February 23 Aspen, CO – Belly Up Aspen
February 24 Denver, CO – Fillmore Auditorium
February 27 Nashville, TN – Exit/In
February 28 Knoxville, TN – The International
March 1 Charlotte, NC – The Underground
March 2 Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre
March 3 Raleigh, NC – Lincoln Theatre

jcsevents
Strings & Sol
December 8-12
Now Sapphire
Puerto Morelos, MX
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds in Mexico
January 12-14
Riviera Maya, MX
3 nights of Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds as well as Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Brandi Carlisle, and Joseph

Gov’t Mule’s Island Exodus
January 13-17
Jewel Paradise Cove
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes, JJ Grey & Mofro

Jam in the Sand
January 18-22
Jewel Paradise Cove
Ruanaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, Hot Tuna, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Jam Cruise
January 17-22
Medeski, Martin, Scofield & Wood, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Maceo Parker, Lotus, Lettuce, Gramatik, Keller Williams, The New Mastersounds, Dumpstaphunk, Turkuaz, The Main Squeeze

Gem & Jam
January 25-28
Tuscon, AZ
STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, Lettuce, Breaking Biscuits, Emancipator, Railroad Earth

Panic En La Playa
January 26-30
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Widespread Panic (4 shows), Playa Allstars, The Cleaners, Big Something, Dave Shaw, Marcus King, Cris Jacobs

Winter WonderGrass
February 21-23
Steamboat Springs, CO
Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, Elephant Revival, Horseshoes & Handgrenades, Travelin’ McCoury’s, Fruition, Billy Strings

Winter Wondergrass Tahoe
April 6-8
Squaw Valley, CA
The Devil Makes Three, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Elephant Revival, The California Honeydrops, Steep Canyon Rangers, Fruition, The Lil’ Smokies

Wannee Festival
April 19-21
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Widespread Panic, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, North Mississippi Allstars, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 20-22
Centennial Park
Atlanta, GA
Umphrey’s McGee, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Sturgill Simpson, Vulfpeck, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Papadosio, The Record Company, Spafford, Southern Avenue

MerleFest
April 26-29
Wilkes Community College
Wilkesboro, NC
Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Sam Bush, The Devil Makes Three, Donna the Buffalo, The Way Down Wanderers, Wesley Bright & The Honeytones

Domefest
May 17-19
Fort Royale Farm
Bedford, PA
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Summer Camp
May 25-27
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee

Dark Star Jubilee
May 25-27
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
Dark Star Orchestra, Los Lobos, Infamous Stringdusters, Hot Tuna, The Nth Power, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Bonnaroo
June 7-10
Manchester, TN

Blue Ox Music Festival
June 14-16
Eau Claire, WI
Greensky Bluegrass, The Devil Makes Three, Sam Bush, Del McCoury Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Margo Price, Billy Strings

Electric Forest Weekend 1
June 21-24
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Andy Frasco & The UN, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

Electric Forest Weekend 2
June 28-July 1
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Fruition, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

Floydfest
July 25-29
Floyd, VA
Foster the People, The Infamous Stringdusters, Hiss Golden Messenger

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Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!