Lettuce to Bring Funk to Long Island

From teenage musicians with a dream to booking gigs for thousands, Lettuce has come a long way since forming in Boston in 1992.

The future funk collective—comprised of drummer Adam Deitch, guitarist Adam Smirnoff, bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes, keyboardist and vocalist Nigel Hall, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and trumpet player Eric Bloom—is keeping the momentum going. They are on the road supporting their contemporary jazz fusion album, Witches Stew, a tribute to Miles Davis and his 1970 album Bitches Brew. Fans can expect the release of another record with 27 new songs. A few collaborations are also in the works, including one with singer, songwriter and guitarist Marcus King. “We still have a few more finishing touches to do on the recordings and then we’ll be in the mixing process,” said Zoidis. “We’re going to be releasing a lot of new music over the next year so we’re stoked.”

Zoidis spoke more about the music and tour while reflecting on the band’s success before Lettuce brings a little funk to the Paramount on March 22.

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You’ve been doing this for so long now. What keeps the band going?
We’ve only been touring this hard for like the last five years. Before that, we would spread it out and play a lot less shows every year. But now we have gotten into this rhythm of playing a lot more and we’ve been making a lot more music together. It’s just so fun right now and we realize that all the time that we spend together is really productive. We create more the more we are together; that keeps us motivated and excited about it.

Why was it important for the band to pay tribute to Miles Davis on the last record?
Just because Miles Davis is really one of our biggest influences when it comes to improvisation. The way that gig came together was actually by the request of a promoter who wanted us to do a Bitches Brew cover set at the [Catskill Chill Music Festival]. We were listening to Bitches Brew and we were like, “This album is so abstract and out there that it’s just really hard to recreate it.” We started listening to the music from that era and compiled a list of tunes that would be good, open-ended jams that we can make our own without trying to copy what Miles did exactly. We tried to do it in a tasteful way that we hoped Miles would appreciate.

Do you have a favorite Miles Davis song?
One song? It’s tough! I’m going to say “So What” just because that’s one of the most classic Miles tunes of all time. But it’s not from the [Bitches Brew] era; “So What” is from a cool jazz era which is kind of blue record and it’s swing.

What is one of your proudest career moments to date?
Getting to where we are now where we are able to play theaters that are in the 2,000-3,000 person range and being able to play the music that really inspires us to the core every night. To be able to create something that special every night and call that our job is miraculous to me. That’s the biggest dream come true anybody can ask for…That’s the dream that I always wanted and actually that’s something that we envisioned together when we were kids. We were 15 when we first started playing together. With that much positive thinking and projecting what we wanted, we made it happen. I’m really proud of that and I think everybody else in the band is.

What can fans expect from the show at the Paramount?
We are going to be playing a lot of the new music we just recorded. We’ve already been doing it and we have tons of material to pull from these days so our shows have been fresh and different every night. We’ve really been just working on flushing the new material and it’s been super great creatively. Our production in general has really stepped up—our show visually and sonically is as good as it’s ever been.

anna halkidis

anna halkidis

Anna Halkidis is a senior web editor at Long Island Pulse. Feel free to reach out at anna@lipulse.com or on Twitter @annahalkidis.