From Berklee to Brooklyn, how Lettuce crushed the funk foundation and built it back up.

By Jen Bernstein

That unmistakable groove – the one that has your feet stepping, shoulders dipping, knees bending and booty shaking as you dance without surrender ... you know the one? It’s the jam where you know you’re a badass. It’s the late-night music that keeps the party going. Maybe you think James Brown did it better, ’cause he did it first, creating the funk-sound template of the mid-’60s – but nowadays it’s the band Lettuce who continues to burn that fire, who’ve grabbed the reins and kicked that shit into high gear.


If you were hanging out in the Boston music scene 20 years ago and detected an unmistakable aroma wafting out the Berklee College of Music’s practice room doors, there’s a good chance you were getting your first whiff of the super-funk group Lettuce.


Getting high, listening to tapes and bonding in the dorms while attending the music school’s prestigious summer program were 16-year-old Eric Krasno (guitar), Adam Deitch (drums), Adam Smirnoff (guitar), Ryan Zoidis (trumpet) and Erick Coomes (bass) – who, at the end of five straight weeks of creating infectious dance grooves, made a pact to return to Berklee after their high school graduation to form a band.


Their first gigs were college parties. They scoped out frat houses and basements, looking for any chance to play live, bringing their instruments along. When the scheduled band took a break, the budding young funkmeisters would approach and say, “Let us play, let us play.” And through rowdy persistence, the name somehow stuck: Lettuce.


“The reaction was incredible,” Deitch recalls. “These college kids would be digging a Jerry Garcia cover band, and then we’d come on and bring the heavy funk, and they’d explode and go crazy. We got addicted to that energy, and as a band, we want that. We knew this was it.”


Lettuce, who opened for the Dave Matthews Band over the summer, also recently dropped their long-awaited third album, Fly, tearing through each new track, in order, at the official album-release festivities at Brooklyn Bowl.


“It’s a party, you know,” says Krasno. “Part of our evolution is that it is a party, but with this album it’s also a bit more psychedelic, and our shows are getting that way, too – but without losing that party vibe. We can get out there and improvise, but we never lose that pulse, and people can always dance to what we’re doing.”


And in case you were wondering, Deitch adds that they still love the green: “Hey, we’re not called Lettuce for nothing!”