“Dealing with the pandemic, being in separate places, trying to survive without our best friends, without touring, not to mention the political divide in this country,” says Lettuce drummer Adam Deitch. “We really needed to unify.”
So, here it is, right on time. Unify. The eighth studio album from Lettuce, it’s also a third consecutive record made at Denver’s Colorado Sound Studios, completing a loose trilogy starting with 2019’s Grammy-nominated Elevate, and continuing with 2020’s Resonate.
It’s, as well, a benchmark moment for the sextet: Adam Deitch (drums), Ryan Zoidis (saxophone), Adam Smirnoff (guitar), Erick Coomes (bass), Nigel Hall (keyboards/vocals), Eric ‘Benny’ Bloom (trumpet). Approaching thirty years since its humble Boston beginnings, the relentlessly soulful funk outfit has essentially lived on the road, embodying, night after night, the sly wink of its moniker: Let us play! And now, endorsed on Unify by none other than the legendary icon of funk, Bootsy Collins, singing and playing bass on “Keep That Funk Alive”.
“We dreamed this up when we were teenagers, and here we are. We’re doing it,” says Zoidis.
The roots of Unify took hold several years back, when Lettuce assembled at Colorado Sound to begin work on Elevate. Armed with dozens of songs, the band tracked enough material for that record, its successor, and then some (including a vinyl-only, 45-minute, live-in-the-studio, one-take improvisation, Vibe). A pandemic-abbreviated European tour schedule in 2021 further inspired, as the group traded ideas for more new material.
Combined with some stellar pre-existing tracks held over from the prior two albums, Lettuce was now primed for a third. The group decamped to the Denver studio and reunited with its esteemed engineer, Jesse O’Brien, mixing alongside O’Brien, and, once again, self-producing the finished work. And, rather than extensively road-testing the songs- fleshing out the repertoire in countless performances on tour before being recorded- this time the band discovered the music as much as made it; essentially debuting the new material as they tracked it live in the studio.
A totally collaborative effort, there were exciting cuts full of brilliant lyrics and arrangements from Hall (whom Coomes calls “one of the greatest singers ever”). And fiery horn parts from Bloom. Plus, the tantalizing prospect of unveiling it all on the upcoming tour. “It’s very, very exciting. Our audiences are going to hear how we end up interpreting these songs for the first time, in the live form, and then for the 300th time; they’ll get to hear right along with us how the songs will morph and evolve,” says Smirnoff.
Adds Coomes, “We’re just getting tighter and tighter. Really, these are the first records made with the six of us as a team, and it’s the best the band has ever been: live and in the studio; the funkiest and the most fun.”
Epitomizing the funk and the fun, it’s impossible for “Keep That Funk Alive,” not to be a focus track, even on a 16-song album full of highlights. Inspired by a buoyant Bootsy Instagram post, and an irrepressible groove crafted around it. The venerable Parliament-Funkadelic bassist dug the hybridized creation, laying down low end and vocals on the proper track. “It’s such a dream to have one of the inventors of funk music bless this album. We are all STILL in awe!” exclaims the band.
This album is an expression that is pure Lettuce. Unify will teleport you to a funky galaxy far, far away, where all life coexists as one in peace, love, harmony, and music!
Bearing witness to the accelerating negativity of global affairs, Steel Pulse emerges with musical vengeance to halt the disarray of humanity. The band’s twelfth studio production, titled Mass Manipulation, reflects four decades committed to bettering mankind through music. Steel Pulse continues to be revolutionary in engaging controversial topics of racial injustice and human rights on a global scale. Their musical stance and conceptualizations are as potent and relevant today as they were at the beginning of their career. The album’s uniquely thematic approach provokes thought as it presses forward, toward humanities unification. A manipulation of our minds has been influenced by a New World Order currently dominating humankind. Steel Pulse reappears at a fated moment, armed with compassion, encouraging all people to reject false ideals, set higher goals, and demand more from themselves to further this unification.
Lead singer and guitarist, David Hinds’ creativity, human persona, and visionary views are revealed through inspiring compositions that capture the effects of the African Diaspora. These songs weave and interlock with each other, enticing all to stand together and unite.
The album begins with a continuation of past struggles in attaining freedom. From the opening song, “Rize” one can hear, feel, and be uplifted through urgency established in its cadence. This urgency compels participation in the Windrush generation’s cause to rise against evil and controlling forces. Ancient melodies paired with catchy lyrics in “Stop You Coming and Come” transport the mind to a period of time where secrets of an African dynasty are unmasked. “Thank The Rebels” follows as a classic Steel Pulse anthem with powerful messages of awareness and inspiration. From the opening trumpet call, Hinds picks up the torch of wisdom, rallying humanity toward great aspirations. In “Justice in Jena” rolling drums and repeated chorus structure highlight the hatred and racial intolerance that persists, despite the notion that society has progressed into a post-racial world. Haunting organs and eerie guitar interplay in “Human Trafficking” emulate the atrocities of this underground world, while desperate drumming and frantic horns bolster an emotional plea to admonish this horror.
Mass Manipulation evolves and sets to navigate the political transformation of changing social and economic environments. Impassioned vocals convey the pain and suffering experienced throughout “Cry Cry Blood.” This song features blistering horns to help settle the nerves and uneasiness felt. “No Satan Side” follows with its intoxicating tempo, rhythmic chanting, and riveting lyrics, defining the African Diaspora with redemption cries for, “Rastafari and live.” “N.A.T.T.Y (Natural And True To Yourself)” explodes with syncopated drumming and purposeful bass to unburden the soul. It is here where we find Hinds at his most personal and reflective state. The album’s title track, “Mass Manipulation” positions exploding horns to drive home its warning, bursting the corporate glass which would serve to protect the deceitful and corrupt. In “World Gone Mad” a jolting rap broadcasts the horrifying consequences of madness. Ensnaring drums and seducing bass encapture those evil and controlling powers embodied in “Black and White Oppressors,” while defiant lyrics, weaponized with energetic horns, serve to penetrate Babylon’s evil and systematic ways.
The album comes full circle as Steel Pulse’s legendary musical abilities aim to achieve a greater community for all. The promise of mankind’s salvation is prominently positioned with vocals offered to still calm in “The Final Call.” Stunning harmonica jousts invoke inward reflection and set free courage to conquer. “Higher Love (Rasta Love),” a beautiful Hinds reggae reinterpretation of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love,” exudes charisma and energy hailing for love across humanity. The album crowns with “Nations of the World.” Stabilizing lyrics, enforced by a commanding rhythm, beg freedom fighters, leaders, and citizens from all nations to come together in peace.
Makuakai (Makua) Rothman was born on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. An accomplished professional big wave surfer and aspiring musician, Makua was crowned the 2015 Big Wave World Champion. Makua’s first win came at the age of 18-years-old where he won the 2002 Billabong XXL Award for riding a 66-foot wave at Jaws (the largest wave known to be surfed anywhere in the world that winter).
Before he was 10-years-old, Makua was surfing some of Hawaii’s notable and dangerous waves, including Pipeline and Sunset Beach. When Makua was eight, he surfed 12-foot Waimea ~ an accomplishment that’s nearly unthinkable.
By the time he was 13, Rothman had emerged as one of Hawaii’s most promising young surfers. Surrounded by legends of surfing – Sunny Garcia, Muyles Padaca, Johnny Boy Gomes, and Dane Kealoha, to name a few – Rothman was taught how to dive, surf, farm and hunt. He credits these men as role models who instilled values of leadership and respect. Music was a source of constant inspiration for Makua, but he never considered it as a career until 2012, when friends and family encouraged him to pursue his dreams. On the verge of leaving for a trip to Indonesia, Rothman decided to cancel the trip to work on his music. A few months later, he released his first EP, “Makanale Road.” Since then, he’s released his full-length album and toured all over the US, headlining small shows and opening for artists such as Matisyahu, Sublime w/Rome, Common Kings, The Wailers, Steel Pulse, Slightly Stoopid, Rebelution, and Donavon Frankenreiter.
Heading towards the future – Makua’s aspirations have turned to helping the troubled youth of Hawaii. Heavy planning is underway to partner with some of Hawaii’s renowned athletes, celebrities and community organizers to help educate and nurture the future people of Hawaii. Makua states, “Surfing is my life and music is what I love. I’ve been blessed to travel the world, encountering different traditions and cultures, which has been a beautiful experience and privilege. But no matter where I am, whether it’s on a big wave in Costa Rica or on a big stage in New York, Hawaii will forever have my heart.”
June 21st, 2023
Tickets on sale February 22nd at 12PM.
Lettuce & Steel Pulse VIP & Pre-show Experience: $180