Lettuce, Skerik and Zach Deputy Join Soulive at Bowlive
Photos by Dino Perrucci
The seventh night of Bowlive picked up right where the previous night left off, with essentially the same announced lineup of guests: Lettuce, Skerik, and Zach Deputy. In addition, flautist Kofi Burbridge, Toubab Krewe percussionist Luke Quaranta, and guest-at-large Nigel Hall all sat in at various points throughout the night.
Like Tuesday’s show, Zach Deputy opened the night, delivering a set of his unique one-man-band compositions. Like a high-tech Keller Williams, Deputy combined drum machines, samplers, and guitar-based synth control to create the backgrounds for his singing and guitar playing. His set the previous night was slightly higher energy, but the crowd was definitely engaged by his run through the original Super Mario Brothers themes.
Soulive took the stage shortly after Deputy’s set, laying down a solid groove in the form of “Rudy’s Way” off of Turn It Out. The trio wasted no time in filling out their lineup for the evening, inviting Burbridge out to duet with Eric Krasno on the vintage Soulive classic, “Cash’s Dream.” Following his virtuosic and elegant turn, Burbridge made way for an expanded Shady Horns performance, comprised of James Casey on tenor sax, Ryan Zoidis on bari, tenor, and alto sax, Eric Bloom on trumpet, and special guest Skerik also on tenor. This was the point where the band started really hitting hard, with a punchy version of “Up Right” featuring a solo from Casey. Lettuce/Dave Matthews Band trumpeter Rashawn Ross then added himself to the mix for a run through “Vapor” and “Flurries”, the latter of which featured Skerik’s primary contribution to the evening in the form of an extended solo that broke down to just him playing his signature dissonant and overblown notes over just Alan Evans’ drums. Deputy joined the already large band for a multi-tempo cover of “The Thrill Is Gone”, before Soulive wrapped up their short set with a go-go inflected take on “Aladdin”.
It’s not clear if Soulive intentionally played a shorter set to allow more time for Lettuce, but Lettuce certainly took advantage of the extended slot allotted to them. They opened up with a spacey into leading in to “By Any Schmeeans Necessary” with a tight tenor sax solo from Ryan Zoidis. Skerik, who sat in with the horn section for “Schmeeans,” vacated the stage for the night as Lettuce “bug[ged] out for a second”, in the words of guitarist Adam Smirnoff, for an improvised groove jam that led in to the new song “Bump Tubby”, during which Burbridge again took the stage, adding himself to Lettuce’s horn section. Following a run through “King Of The Burgs”, the band ripped through a number of new songs being considered for the forthcoming Let Us Fly, beginning with “Fast Kraz”. The new material favors group improvisation atop dense grooves over individual solos, possibly owing to the brand-new nature of the compositions, such as “Ghosts Of Jupiter,” which was introduced as being the first time the band played the song live. Lettuce mainstay Alecia Chakour joined the band for “Do Ya Thing,” before making way for Quaranta on “New Go-Go”, which as it said on the tin was a go-go jam featuring Quaranta on djembe, Casey on congas, and every other member of the band on assorted percussion, save for bassist ED Coomes punctuating the jam with bass slides, and Krasno who left the stage for the jam. Krasno returned toting Nigel Hall out to the front of the stage (he’d previously spent the set slipping in and out of jams on congas and Moog Voyager) to take vocal duties on the DC tribute “Makin’ My Way Back Home,” which brought the energy to a new peak and invoking an extended call & response section (closed out with Hall sticking the microphone in my face for the last “Na Na Na Na Na”). Hall remained on stage for the closing duo of Curtis Mayfield classics, “We’re A Winner” and “Move On Up,” the latter of which involved a multi-part audience sing-along before taking a detour to church on the way to a huge finish. Honoring the audience’s request for “one more song,” Lettuce encored with another new one, the bouncy “Slipping In The Darkness.”