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Benny Bloom & Tom Hamilton Get Us Excited For Fool’s Paradise On New Podcast Episode

Our Inside Out WTNS podcast series returns with its third “Tweener” episode, which focuses on the rapidly approaching Fool’s Paradise extravaganza. This episode includes interviews with festival promoter Paul Levine, as well as performers Eric “Benny” Bloom of Lettuce and Tom Hamilton of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.

Levine discusses how the seeds of the festival’s location were planted when an Umphrey’s McGee festival (which also featured Lettuce) was moved from a civil war fort to the idyllic St. Augustine Amphitheatre in St. Augustine, FL two years ago. He talks about his career as a promoter, about working with Lettuce to curate the festival (“we’ve always enjoyed working together… doing things to promote and advance funk music”), and about an excursion which this year will be offered to Fool’s Paradise attendees (“you can go on a boat for a couple hours and have wine and beer with some of the guys from Lettuce”).

Then a portion of Seth Weiner and Rob Turner’s interview with Eric “Benny” Bloom of Lettuce (originally broadcast live on Cloud Nine’s Facebook page) from last fall’s Lockn’ Festival enters the episode. Bloom talks about meeting, then playing with Lettuce for the first time, “I remember going to the gig….and they are walking out of an elevator…and I say, ‘what’s up Ryan [Zoidis, Lettuce sax ace] hey, what are we playing?’ and he was like, ‘I dunno, gimme a sec,’ and then they all just left, and no setlist.” Bloom talks about how he would quickly become a key part of the band and assume the trumpet role full-time, and about why he particularly enjoys playing for the funk/jam band world, saying, “a lot of these fans in this scene… are musicians… that’s why it’s really great to play for these particular kind of fans.” The key role Boston’s Berklee College of Music played with regard to Lettuce’s formation, and to his own personal development, is examined – and he tells of how he bonded with Lettuce members over the fact that, like him, they had at one time run the house band at Boston’s uber-legendary Wally’s Cafe.

The dynamic Tom Hamilton, who will be performing with Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at this year’s Fool’s Paradise, steps up to the plate next and talks about the boundless spontaneity of the band. “We have never once spoken about an improvised section, ever,” he says.  The band can launch into full ensemble improvisation at any time, and this is perhaps the most compelling thing about that unit musically. He also compares what its like playing in a band with the drummer as the “Point Man” in Almost Dead to being the “Point Man” himself in Billy and The Kids, the ensemble with the Dead’s own Bill Kreutzmann.

Hamilton also digs into the Grateful Dead culture, talking about the tempo debate and critiques that come from playing with members of the Grateful Dead, “I guarantee you for every person that thinks what I’m doing is okay, there’s 40 other people that are like, ‘he’s a piece of shit.’ It doesn’t matter. I don’t care. That’s just the way it is.” However, he reveals himself to be strikingly less tolerant of the people who were vocal with their suspicions about the intentions behind the Grateful Dead band members’ decision to have their Fare The Well event last year, saying of the Core Four, “They sacrificed more for our joy than most people that have ever listened to their music. They sacrificed their personal lives, friendships, marriages…they’ve had friends die because of this fucking job.” The entire Hamilton interview is included in Episode 20 of Inside Out WTNS.

Listen to the new episode, streaming below.

This will be the last “Tweener” episode until a special one featuring Jason Crosby is released on April 19th, however, the main episodes will keep coming, starting next Wednesday when Jeremy Salken and Dominic Lalli join in the Inside Out WTNS pageantry.

The long-running Inside Out With Turner And Seth podcast brings you a fresh take on the music scene by combining behind-the-scenes and fan perspectives. Each episode features engaging interviews with your favorite artists and insightful commentary from genre veterans sprinkled with comedy. For more Inside Out With Turner And Seth episodes, head to their SoundCloud or their page on iTunes. You can also email the Podcast (insideoutwtns@gmail.com) to submit feedback that may be read on future episodes!


Don’t miss Lettuce and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at the upcoming Fool’s Pardise in St. Augustine, FL on March 31 & April 1. They’ll be playing alongside The MotetThe Floozies, The Main SqueezeOrgan Freeman, and Oteil Burbridge Antwaun Stanley as artists-at-large. Find out more information here.