Music News & Reviews

Lettuce experience the funk

The accomplished jazz/funk collective Lettuce (the name is a play on “let us”) performs Wednesday at Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh.
The accomplished jazz/funk collective Lettuce (the name is a play on “let us”) performs Wednesday at Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh. Courtesy of Lettuce

Bassist Erick Coomes has had many a nickname. He was “Boogie” from age 5 to 12. In his high-school years, he was known as “E.D.” (short for “Erick Dangerous”). Now, he goes by “Jesus.”

How did he get such a heavenly nom de guerre? “DJ Quik and Dr. Dre ended up calling me ‘Jesus’ in the studio for years, so it really stuck,” says Coomes, calling from Portland, Maine. “I’m kinda waiting for someone to change it, but I don’t care. You can call me whatever you want.”

Whatever you prefer to call Coomes, don’t ever say he’s not a dedicated member of the band Lettuce.

This Boston-born, seven-piece jazz/funk collective has been out there for over two decades now. During that time, Coomes and other members have done side gigs here and there, while others, like guitarist Eric Krasno, have pursued their own solo careers. But while other members, including keyboardist-turned-producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Beyonce) and trumpeter Rashawn Ross (The Dave Matthews Band), have come and gone, this band always comes back together to drop music and go on tour. (They will be doing a show at Lincoln Theatre on Wednesday.)

“It’s like our love,” says Coomes. “It’s kinda like coming back home, you know. It’s like our family. It’s our real family. It’s what we do for the love.”

Sometimes, they’re just overflowing with music. When they were working on their 2015 album “Crush,” their abundance of songs led them to release an EP the following year called “Mt. Crushmore.”

“We knew we were gonna have extra songs that we were gonna like and fall in love with, but not be able to get on ‘Crush,’” says Coomes. “So, even in the days while we were cutting ‘Crush,’ we thought, uh-oh – we cut a couple too many, but we’re gonna have to put these out… I wouldn’t say it was part of the plan from before we started recording. But, as soon as we recorded ‘Crush,’ we realized we had a lot of stuff. So, we knew that might happen and we’d probably do an EP.”

“Crushmore” continues the band’s tradition of churning out the sort of funky compositions that would work perfectly in a blaxploitation movie or cop show from the ’70s. Coomes considers that high praise.

“You know, the ’70s were such an amazing time,” he says. “I think anything with that ’70s vibe on it is gonna just bring nostalgia to, you know, whatever you think of from the ’70s. But, definitely, cop movies from the ’70s and blaxploitation movies – we’re into those sort of soundtracks as well.”

Coomes has had previous experience composing music for a film; he collaborated with Quik and Marcus Miller on Chris Rock’s “Head of State.” So, he definitely wouldn’t mind if a filmmaker – let’s say, Quentin Tarantino – approached Lettuce about composing music for an upcoming film.

“I’m kinda waiting for Quentin to just, like, show up at my hotel room and go, ‘All right, come with me!’” he says, laughing.

Until that day comes, Lettuce will continue to release new tunes and perform live. As a band whose name is a play on the phrase “let us” (as in “let us play” or “let us entertain you”), Lettuce is a band that will always be around for your entertainment needs.

“I would say Lettuce is here for you and, if you go to a show, you’ll feel respected and you will have a great time and, hopefully, it will add more joy to your life,” says Coomes. “And you’ll dance and we’ll all experience, you know, what the funk is together.”


Who: Lettuce

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Lincoln Theatre, 126 E. Cabarrus St., Raleigh

Cost: $20

Info: 919-821-4111 or