Photos & Review | Lettuce James Brown Tribute | New York

Images by: Nick Irving
Words by: Chadbyrne R. Dickens

Lettuce :: 9.18.13 :: Stage 48 :: New York, NY

Check out a full review after the photo gallery...

"Know we need it, soul power, We got to have it, soul power, Know we want it, soul power, Got to have it, soul power, Give it to me, soul power" - James Brown

On a cool crisp autumn evening in New York City, soul act Lettuce brought the heat and put the fun back in funk for a bombastic and energetic two-hour display of contagious relentless rhythms. The joyous romp saw a band at the top of their game as they played a set of originals as well as an impressive and comprehensive set of covers by The Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. Live For Live Music presented the sold-out show at the recently opened 1,200+ capacity Stage 48 venue in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday, September 18th.

Too often people mistake R&B, soul or dance music as funk. In fact few musical outfits today actually bring the bonafide funk proper. Veteran stalwarts Dumpstaphunk and Galactic, along with newcomers like Turkuaz, consistently duke it out for supremacy, but ultimately Lettuce reigns supreme as the Kings of the genre. They perform in the respected funk pantheon tradition of Parliament and Sly and the Family Stone. Lettuce proves to be the real deal and currently best define today's funk experience. Any Lettuce fan would accede that the most successful manner in which to showcase their funk-laden talents to a crowd full of funksters and funkateers is an inspired James Brown set. Kunj Shah, President of Live For Live Music, suggested to the band that they do "more than just a normal Lettuce show" and planted the first seed of a set featuring James Brown covers.

The core members of Lettuce met while attending the Berklee School of Music in Boston nearly two decades ago. In fact, drummer Adam Deitch and guitarist Adam Smirnoff were initially introduced at a summer program at the music school when they were only 16 years old. As a struggling up and coming band, the members would go to various venues and beg for an opportunity to perform by clamoring, "Let us play! Let us play!" and the eclectic band moniker was born. Lettuce is the formidable talents of Eric Krasno (guitar), Adam Deitch (drums), Neal Evans (keys), E.D. "Jesus" Coomes (bass), Adam "Schmeans" Smirnoff (guitar), James Casey (tenor sax), Ryan Zoidis (bari sax), Nigel Hall (vocals) and Eric Bloom (trumpet).

Nigel Hall, prepared to perform as James Brown, was slated to play as the opening act also, but his gig was cancelled early on performance day. Hall was not ill or facing any adversity, it was rather a smart calculated move to save himself for his vital role in the Lettuce performance exclusively in order to make it more special. The band has been playing James Brown songs sporadically including "I Feel Good" and "Super Bad" at the Bear Creek Festival and "There Was a Time" last winter at the 9:30 Club, but this was the first time they have paid homage to "Mr. Dynamite," aka "the hardest working man in show business," with a complete set. Fortuitously, legend spinster and Bronx native, DJ Logic, admirably filled in with an upbeat and fiery set to begin the night with a bouncy bang.


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