If you take a look at the track listing on “Elevate,” the newest album by the Grammy Award-nominated Boston funk-rock-jam sextet Lettuce, you’ll see a familiar name on track nine.
That’s Greenville’s own red-hot blues-rock star Marcus King turning in a typically fiery performance on “Love Is Too Strong,” unleashing a torrid vocal and a stunning guitar solo.
Lettuce guitarist Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff says Lettuce has played a lot of shows with King and his band, and they immediately thought of him when they were recording the song.
“It was really off the cuff,” Smirnoff says. “We reached out to him and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got a track on this record, do you want to write to it?’ He said, ‘Sure, send me the track.’ So, we sent it to him, he did his thing and sent it to us, and we put it together.”
Most music fans around the Upstate have watched King turn in incredible performances since he was a child, but Smirnoff says the experience has been different for Lettuce.
“I haven’t seen that entire progression,” he says with a laugh. “I’ve just known him for a couple of years now, so I just I just see a grown man who plays grown-man music and plays some grown-man guitar.”
Despite being recorded separately, King’s performance on “Love Is Too Strong” meshes perfectly with the rest of Lettuce’s music, and that’s largely because the six-piece, horn-spiked band leaves plenty of space in its infectious, flexible funk.
“Creating space is the whole concept,” Smirnoff says. “I don’t really think you can have real funk or get people moving and dancing without that space. It emphasizes other aspects of the rhythm.”
That sparse approach also gives the band, which will perform at The Firmament in Greenville Jan. 2, 2020, plenty of room to improvise while onstage.
“You’re able to create something new and different each time and by giving people space,” Smirnoff says, “and by letting people breathe so that ideas can come and flow and create a place for true improvisation.”
If you go
- What: Lettuce
- When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 2
- Where: The Firmament, 5 Market Point Drive, Greenville
- Tickets: $31-$41
- Info: 864-616-5101, https://www.firmamentgvl.com/