Adam Deitch Reflects on Origin of Lettuce, Getting Back on the Road
As an elite funk outfit and purveyors of good times, it’s no wonder why Lettuce have continued to find success and fandom three decades into their career. MP3 MAG caught up with drummer Adam Deitch to reflect on the journey, and what to expect as the live music virtuosos emerge from the pandemic.
The Lettuce story is rooted in a homegrown tale of friends and musicianship. Deitch himself was born and raised in New York City, and most of the current members call the Northeast their home. At the age of 16, he attended a summer camp for the Berklee College of Music NYC, a pre-college acceleration program for hopeful youth wanting to become artists and musicians.
At this particular “one time at band camp,” Deitch would meet the core members of the current Lettuce lineup. Each connected immediately as if old friends, and would harbor a connection that would only grow for years to come. Like most young musicians, however, each set out on their own solo careers to realize their musical destinies.
“As years progressed, we started playing gigs here and there,” “We all started doing other things on our own, which is important for young musicians. Once we did that, we all realized we would rather play together.”
In the Fall of 1994, the group circled back after deciding the chemistry they had was unmatched. In its first iteration, the group dubbed themselves, The Formula, a hip-hop project that allowed them to reimagine classics while delivering flavorful funk music of their own.
The group would play various clubs around Boston, often walking in and blatantly asking the owner to “let us” play. Often enough, they would and thus, the name and story of Lettuce began. The full Lettuce lineup today consists of Deitch, Erick Coomes (bass guitar), Adam Smirnoff (guitar), Ryan Zoidis (brass), Nigel Hall (vocals, keys), and Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet).
At its core, the group’s common ground resides in their love of funk music. Sharing a complete knowledge of James Brown, Tower of Power, Earth Wind & Fire and the like, the group cultivated their own genuinely fun and exciting blend of original music.
“It’s our love of funk music,” Deitch said of the group’s chemistry. “We are all obsessed with the music. A lot of our generation kinda overlook that music and go with more modern stuff. We just really united on funk music.”
By way of grassroots fandom and word of mouth, Lettuce yielded strong followings not only in New York City and Boston, but far away destinations like San Francisco and Tokyo. Wherever they played, they seemed to find an audience of “Let-Heads” that resonated with their unique brand of flavorful funk.
Getting out there and playing all over the world netted them an international fanbase. Each night of Lettuce offers sprawling energy and smiling faces, as the group treats every show like it might be their last gig.
In early 2020, the group had just wrapped up its latest album Resonate, and were readying to tour. Like so many in the music industry, those plans were put on indefinite hiatus when met with the global pandemic caused by COVID-19.
Lettuce, who had been active and touring pretty much since 2002, were forced to finally take a break.
As it turned out, this time served as a much needed break for each member to focus on their families, personal responsibilities, and even finding time for self care. Naturally, they also found time to experiment and write a lot of music.
“I know for me, being home and having my drums set up, and just working on my craft,” said Deitch. “On the road every night, you’re improving as a unit, but maybe not individually. So we all got to work on our own thing, ourselves and got better that way.
Let-Heads got their first taste of redemption at the top of the year, when the group returned to a familiar venue in Colorado, Cervantes Masterpieces. For the first time in over a year, the full lineup was reunited on stage with a live audience.
“We were very excited,” Deitch said of the first return show. “We all broke down in tears at a certain point in the set. Being back, feeling the power of the funk flowing through the collective. It was just a really powerful gig.”
To the delight of fans, the group revealed that it had written and recorded an entirely new album, recorded at Colorado Sound Studio. Around 15 new songs have been fully mixed and mastered, and are set for release in early 2022.
This Fall, “COVID-willing,” Lettuce will be headed back out on their first bus tour in two years on the Bring Back the Love tour. The tour stretches across America, before heading to the UK, Holland, Germany, Italy and a bevy of other European dates in the Spring.
The tour stop the group looks perhaps most forward to, Deitch revealed, is the tour opener at Suwannee Hulaween Music Festival. Hosted in Live Oak, Florida’s Spirit of the Suwannee River Music Park, Hula has helped shape the imagination of many festival goers in the South, including Lettuce.
Nurturing a close relationship with festival organizer, Paul Levine, the group has become an annual performer there and has even hosted their own one-off events in the magical mossy oak forest.
“It’s definitely one of our favorite places to play. It’s a spiritual land, it feels great to be there, the people are great. It’s one of our favorite places to be.”
With the full band rested, excited, and ready to keep going, Lettuce looks to provide even more vibrance. While the pandemic and time away have provided hardship globally, the chance to re-appreciate their craft and ability to share it with others leaves the band with optimism that their live show will only continue to grow.
Make sure not to miss Lettuce next weekend at Hulaween, where he’ll be making his The Spirit of The Suwannee debut at the Spirit Lake Stage. Find more info on Hula day schedules here.