Galactic and Lettuce in Cleveland

John Patrick Gatta on March 22, 2018

Galactic and Lettuce delivered a master class of funk — an amalgamation of James Brown and his many Allstars, the Ohio Players, Parliament-Funkadelic, psychedelia, hip-hop and jazz — to a packed House of Blues in Cleveland. It was the last of four co-headlining dates.

With a set that focused on numbers with guest vocalist Erica Falls interspersed with a few instrumentals, Galactic delivered a scorching 85 minutes.

Their opening double shot of “Blackbird Special” and “Hey Na Na” found the members bringing their New Orleans hometown musical gumbo 1,000 miles north. Overtly and subtly, the sextet conveyed the Crescent City’s musical history from Congo Square to Preservation Hall to the French Quarter.

A cover of Rebirth Brass Band’s “A.P. Tureaud” featured a dazzling give-and-take between Galactic touring member Shamarr Allen on pocket trumpet and Lettuce’s Eric Bloom on trumpet.

Whether on saxophone or harp, Ben Ellman blasted away with precise and greasy runs as the deep pocket grooves developed by Stanton Moore (drums) and Robert Mercurio (bass) aided by Rich Vogel (Hammond B3 organ) and Jeff Raines (guitar) provided solid foundations for the brass musicians to share the spotlight.

Spreading out their funky ways, “Hard Times” and “Into the Deep” nodded to Muscle Shoals soul while “You Don’t Know” and “Dolla Diva” displayed a smooth transition to hard funk.

Opening with the appropriately titled “Blast Off,” Lettuce’s 75-minute set saw Bloom, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and guitarist Adam Smirnoff knock out one highlight-worthy solo after another.

Wearing a Cleveland Browns cap and jersey, keyboardist Nigel Hall delivered during the heavy funk of “Crusher” and followed that by taking lead vocals on a cover of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Ready to Live.”

Ending the night, the two acts collaborated on a cover of Dirty Dozen Brass Band’s “Who Took the Happiness.” Galactic’s Moore and Lettuce’s Adam Deitch united on an expanded kit for a Second line-like drum solo while all the brass players took a solo turn.

If nearly three hours of tasty funk didn’t cause you to show up to work the next day weak-kneed from dancing all night long then you were doing it wrong.