The vibes of excitement were at an all-time high at Dallas’s historic Granda Theater on Saturday night, as funk-fans, Lett-heads, and wide-eyed first-timers came together for the night’s festivities. Dallas’ own The Funky Knuckles, who have joined Lettuce for the Texas portion of their current winter tour, lit the musical torch on the fine Texas evening. The sextet brought their heatwave of world-class jazz and incessant jams to set the scene for Lettuce.
The band—comprised of Wes Stephenson (bass), Cedric Moore (drums), Phill Aelony (guitar), Evan Weiss (trumpet), Ben Bohorquez (saxophone), and Kwinton Gray (keys), have held the groove-oriented jazz throne in Dallas and beyond for over a decade, and it shows in their fine-tuned musicianship and impressive avant-garde invention of cyber nu-jazz/funk vibes.
Right on cue, Lettuce presented themselves at approximately 10:30 P.M., kicking it off with “The Lobbyist” from 2015’s Crush. An anthem of “get out and seize it” proportions, one could feel the accomplished air of the blood, sweat, and tears this team has poured into their music collectively for the last 25 years. It’s almost as if the band was flying out early morning post-show to attend the Grammys, or something as equally legendary.
The jam remained ceaseless, with Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet) serenading his solo chops into “Outta Here”, the opening track off the 2012 album of the same name. The feel-good, horn-heavy hit is a reminiscent jam from the older Lett days when Eric Krasno and Neal Evans were still on the squad. The tune kept on straight into a classic from Nigel Hall’s Ladies & Gentleman…album, “Lay Away”, a soul-forward tune laced with insane rippage from Adam “Shmeeams” Smirnoff (guitar), coasting the number into the realms of pure love and light.
Next up came Elevate’s “Gang Ten”, a 12-minute excursion into the charming vessel of boom-bap and tantalizing horn ensembles, whisking you on a ride through the heavens on a funky cumulus cloud into the space realms.
Switching vibes and speeding up the ship, came Crush’s “Pocket Change”, a sax-tastic explosion that rounded the corner with Ryan Zoidis casually whipping his brow and keeping the train a-rollin’ into solo station. The band then slipped into their intimate and souled-up rendition of War’s classic “Slippin’ Into Darkness”. Shmeeans shone his chops with an extended solo before Bloom slowly blasted the roof off into an unearthly realm of cosmic, funky darkness.
Moving gracefully along, the krewe donned a brand new track, “RVA Dance”, that we can hopefully expect on the upcoming album(s). A heart-bustin’ “Let It GOGO” came served with an extra side of sophisticated, deep-fried funk, with Adam Deitch facing off against the infamous cowbell for an elongated groove into pure pleasure.
“GOGO” played right into the first few notes of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, arguably the most beautiful live cover of the Tears for Fears hit. Nigel Hall’s angelic, soul-filled voice swooned the crowd away, with his palpable passion that never dims.
The band then welcomed special guest Mark Lettieri—Snarky Puppy’s guitar virtuoso who ended up stealthily filling in for Shmeeams—to the stage. Lettieri sailed on with Lettuce through an undeniably amazing “Sam Huff’s Flying Raging Machine”, before taking a psychedelic journey through the parallel universe of Elevate’s “Trapezoid”. Lettuce sealed-off the unforgettable night at the Granada Theater with an encore of the crowd-pleasing hit “Lettsanity”, thunder-clapping their way into the bloodlines of every listener in attendance.
Below, check out a gallery of photos courtesy of photographer Andrew Sherman as well as a selection of clips from the show.
Lettuce will continue touring throughout the US before they head to Europe for shows across the continent. Head to their official website for tickets and more tour information.
Lettuce – “Gang Ten” – 1/25/20
[Video: Sydney Paschall]
Lettuce – 1/25/20
[Video: Sydney Paschall]
Setlist: Lettuce | Granada Theater | Dallas, TX | 1/25/20
Set: The Lobbyist > Outta Here, Lay Away, Gang Ten, Pocket Change, Slippin’ Into Darkness, RVA Dance, Let It GOGO > Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Sam Huff’s Flying Raging Machine, Trapezoid