Steamboat Free Summer Concerts presents Lettuce
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s the Steamboat Free Summer Concert that was so good, it had its own announcement date.
On Saturday, Aug. 10, funk group Lettuce lands at the Howelsen Hill Amphitheater.
Producer and DJ Maddy O’Neal kicks off the night with her versatile mixing style, electronically blending rock ‘n’ roll with old-school hip hop. The self-taught, Denver-based artist has played at Electric Forest, Camp Bisco, Summer Camp, Summer Meltdown and Red Rocks, twice.
“She’s carrying the electro-soul flag,” said Lettuce percussionist and chief composer Adam Deitch. “She’s not only a great musician, but a great friend to all of us (in Lettuce).”
After O’Neal’s electric electronic extravaganza, Lettuce takes the stage.
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The group formed in 1992, when the founding members were 15 and 16 years old, participating in a summer program of Boston’s Berklee College of Music. When they returned to Berklee as undergrads in 1994, they began playing in clubs around Boston, and eventually, around the country and the world.
“(If I could tell my 15-year-old self all the stuff we’ve done now,) I think he’d be pretty excited about the future,” Deitch said. “I’d love to be able to do that.”
What: Lettuce at Steamboat Free Summer Concerts
When: 5:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10
Where: Howelsen Hill Amphitheater, 845 Howelsen Pkwy.
The band’s name originated from their time as students, when they’d meander through Northeastern cities and ask club managers to “Let us play.”
Beginning with their 2002 debut album, “Let us” is added to their first four album’s titles, including (Let Us) Outta Here in 2002, (Let Us) Rage! in 2008, (Let Us) Fly! in 2012 and (Let Us) Crush in 2015. Their discography also includes Mt. Crushmore, 2016, and Witches Stew, 2017. Their most recent album is “Elevate.”
“(Elevate)’s got a super focused tone to it,” Deitch said. “I think it’s our best writing. It represents the golden era of the band.”
Adam Deitch’s top 3 Lettuce song recommendations for Lettuce newbies
No. 1 “Purple Cabbage”
“This is the direction we’re headed. It’s a hip-hop meets funk kind of thing.”
No. 2 “Royal Highness”
“It’s uptempo, classic, energetic funk”
No. 3 “Madison Square”
“This is one of our most famous songs, a dedication to our New York roots.”
Lettuce is rooted in funk, but its members incorporate blues-soul, hip-hop, R&B, jazz and space-age audioscapes.
In addition to Deitch, Lettuce features Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff on guitar; Erick “Jesus” Coomes on bass; Ryan Zoidis on alto, baritone and tenor sax and Korg X-911; Eric “Benny” Bloom on trumpet and horns; and Nigel Hall on vocals, Hammond B-3, Rhodes, clavinet and keyboards.
The whole band loves playing in the mountains, Deitch noted. He moved to Colorado from New York about five years ago, and now, as a product of the fresh air, natural beauty, vibes and creative space, he finds he’s able to write more songs and better songs.
And just as important as the songwriting and technical side of music, Deitch notes there’s another key aspect of the music he and his band bring into the world.
“It’s important to be in the moment and not hold onto any specific time length for the songs or solos,” Deitch said. “Each song, every night, is a new birth. We want to allow for improvisation to happen, to connect with the audience and try to make people feel better than they felt before they came in.
“Lettuce fans are really great people,” he added. “It’s definitely a community vibe. We’re trying to create more of that, and we definitely want people to feel part of this family.”
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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