music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Lettuce

March 23, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski

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So I saw Yonder Mountain String Band last Friday (the 15th) to do a review of their show. As with any show I review, I always want to go back and re-listen to the show while I’m writing in order to pick up on details I may have missed, make sure I have things in order, etc… So, since I had that show to review and the 3/23 Umphrey’s show tonight to review, I figured I’d try out a Nugs.net streaming subscription.

This is a game changer. I’ve listened to so many shows, both by bands I love and am familiar with and bands that I never really checked out before. The quality is excellent, the layout is good, and the whole concept is one that I’ve loved for years. So I want to give a hats off to Nugs for their exceptional work. The only issue I’ve had so far is that every Yonder show up through 3/16 is up OTHER THAN the 3/15 Cleveland show. So the Yonder review will have to wait until next week, and the Umph review the week after that. Sorry!

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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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Woodstock 50 Announces Lineup
Woodstock 50 has officially announced their lineup. The festival will be held in Watkins Glen, NY from August 16-18. The festival is a mix of pop, rock, hip-hop, R&B, and a few “legacy” Woodstock artists. Names of note to jam band fans include Dead & Co., Santana, Robert Plant & The Sensational Shape Shifters, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlisle, Hot Tuna, Gary Clark Jr., John Fogerty, Margo Price, and Marcus King Band.

Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers add dates
Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers will be spending a month on the road from July-August this summer. The band will be featuring Amos Lee as openers for part of their run.

July 12 Mt. Pocono, PA – Pocono Mountain Event Center
July 13 McKees Rocks, PA – Roxian Theatre
July 14 Akron, OH – Goodyear Theatre
July 16 Huber Heights, OH – Rose Music Center at The Heights*
July 18 Mashantucket, CT – Grand Casino Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino*
July 20 Richmond, VA – Maymont*
July 21 Charlottesville, VA – Sprint Pavilion*
July 24 Vienna, VA – Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts*
Aug 7 Milwaukee, WI – Pabst Theatre^
Aug 9 Minneapolis, MN – Pantages Theatre^
Aug 16 Dillon, CO – Dillon Amphitheatre+

* w/ Amos Lee
^ w/ S. Carey
+ Free show

Umphrey’s McGee adds dates
Umphrey’s McGee set their summer schedule this week. The band will start their summer tour at Summer Camp before spending pieces of June, July, and August on the road in various parts of the country.

May 23–26 Chillicothe, IL – Summer Camp Music Festival
May 30 Birmingham, AL – Avondale Brewing Company
May 31 Ozark, AR – Backwoods Music Festival
June 1 Jackson, MS – Cathead Jam
June 21 Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
June 22 Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
June 23 Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
July 3 Anaheim, CA – House of Blues
July 5 Jacksonville, OR – Britt Pavilion
July 6 Quincy, CA – High Sierra Music Festival
July 13 Showshoe, WV – 4848 Festival
July 18 Raleigh, NC – The Ritz
July 19 Richmond, VA – Virginia Credit Union Live!
July 20 Scranton, PA – Camp Bisco
Aug 2 Darrington, WA – Summer Meltdown
Aug 3 Missoula, MT – Kettlehouse Amphitheater
Aug 15 St. Petersburg, FL – Jannus Live
Aug 16 Miami Beach, FL – The Fillmore
Aug 17 St. Augusting, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Aug 18 Wilmington, NC – Greenfield Lake Ampitheater
Aug 22 Chattanooga, TN – The Signal
Aug 23 Louisville, KY – Iroquois Amphitheater
Aug 24 Indianapolis, IN – The Lawn at White River State Park
Aug 25 Kettering, OH – Fraze Pavilion
Aug 29 Hampton Beach, NH – Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
Aug 30 Asbury Park, NJ – Stone Pony Summer Stage
Aug 31 Huntington, NY – The Paramount
Sept 1 Utica, NY – Saranac Brewery

New lineup for The New Deal
The New Deal announced a revamped lineup and some new music this week. Bassist Dan Kurtz and keyboardist Jamie Shields welcomed drummer Davide Di Renzo into the fold for what they’re calling TND3. The band is scheduled on two small festivals so far this summer and they also released a new song featuring the new lineup.

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Suwannee Spring Reunion
March 21-24
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Steep Canyon Rangers, Billy Strings, Peter Rowan, Donna the Buffalo, Larry Keel Experience, John Stickley Trio

Winter Wondergrass California
March 29-31
Squaw Valley, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush Band, ALO, Fruition, Billy Strings, Jeff Austin Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s

Bender Jamboree
April 11-14
Plaza Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, NV
Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Billy Strings

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 19-21
Centennial Olympic Park
Atlanta, GA
Widespread Panic, The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Rebelution, Moon Taxi, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Turkuaz

Domefest
May 16-18
Marvin’s Mountaintop
Masontown, WV
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (x5), Aqueous, Litz, Mungion, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers

DelFest
May 23-26
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The String Cheese Incident, The Travelin’ McCourys, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Marcus King Band, Billy Strings

Summer Camp Music Festival
May 23-26
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Big Gigantic, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Trampled by Turtles, Blues Traveler, Lotus, TAUK, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Spafford, ALO

Dark Star Jubilee
May 24-26
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Leftover Salmon, Billy Strings, Dumpstaphunk, The Lil’ Smokies, Donna the Buffalo, The Nth Power

Camp Greensky
June 6-8
Wellston, MI
Greensky Bluegrass (3 nights), Del & Dawg, Stephen Marley, Billy Strings, Hiss Golden Messenger, Circles around the Sun, Ghost Light, The Rebirth Brass Band, Bombino

Bonnaroo
June 13-16
Manchester, TN
Phish, The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers, GRiZ, Nahko & Medicine for the People, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Jim James, Trampled By Turtles, The Wood Brothers, Shovels & Rope, The Record Company

Mountain Jam
June 13-16
Bethel Woods
Bethel, NY
Willie Nelson & Family, Phil Lesh & Friends, Gov’t Mule, The Avett Brothers, The Revivalists, Twiddle, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Dispatch, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Michael Franti & Spearhead

Keller in the Caverns
June 21-23
Pelham, TN
2 Keller Williams performances as well as Pettygrass, More Than A Little, and a Grateful Gospel Brunch

Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 20-23
Telluride, CO
Brandi Carlisle, Sam Bush Band, Jim James, Greensky Bluegrass, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon: Stories from the Living Room, Punch Brothers, Railroad Earth

Electric Forest
June 27-30
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
3 nights of The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Lettuce, The Floozies, TAUK, Spafford, Twiddle, Ghost Light, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Nth Power, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

Smoky Run Music Festival
June 28-30
Butler, OH
Gov’t Mule, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, Deer Tick, Son Volt, The Travelin’ McCoury’s & Jeff Austin Band present Grateful Ball, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Rumpke Mountain Boys

moe.down
July 4-6
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Turin, NY

High Sierra
July 4-7
Quincy, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Umphrey’s McGee, Dispatch, Del McCoury Band, Jim James, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, TAUK, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, ALO, Marcus King Band

4848 Festival
July 11-13
Snowshoe Mountain
Snowshoe, WV
Greensky Bluegrass, Umphrey’s McGee, The Infamous Stringdusters, Lettuce, Railroad Earth, Marcus King Band, Billy Strings, Turkuaz, Fruition

Ride Festival
July 12-14
Telluride, CO
Widespread Panic, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Big Something

Camp Bisco
July 18-20
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA

FloydFest 19 “Journey Home”
July 24-28
Floyd, VA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, The String Cheese Incident, Brandi Carlile Tyler Childers, Margo Price, Fantastic Negrito, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grace featuring Love Cannon

Peach Music Festival
July 25-28
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Phil Lesh & Friends, Trey Anastasio Band, The String Cheese Incident, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, moe., Greensky Bluegrass, Lotus, Lettuce, Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Allman Betts Band, Billy Strings

Woodstock 50
August 16-18
Watkins Glen, NY
Dead & Co., Santana, Robert Plant & The Sensational Shape Shifters, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlisle, Hot Tuna, Gary Clark Jr., John Fogerty, Margo Price, Marcus King Band.

Lockn’ Festival
August 22-25
Arrington, VA
Trey Anasasio Band w/ Derek Trucks, Tedeschi Trucks Band w/ Trey Anastasio, Bob Weir & Wolf Bros. w/ Susan Tedeschi, Otiel & Friends w/ Bob Weir, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, The Revivalists, Gary Clark Jr., Old Crow Medicine Show, moe., Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Twiddle

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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!