The St. Augustine Amphitheater is a wonderful place to have a festival — there is ample space, shade, beer vendors, and bathrooms. I can really look forward to anything that is announced here because I know I’m already halfway to a good time.
We are a little late arriving to the Amphitheater Friday afternoon. We (Richie and I) miss Organ Freeman but walk in during Manic Science — a collaboration between Break Science (Adam Deitch and Borahm Lee of New York City) and Manic Focus (John “JmaC” McCarten, a Chicago-based producer originally hailing from the Twin Cities). Producer Borahm Lee mainly plays keys while JmaC spins the tracks and Deitch kills it on drums as usual. This funk/soul/jazz inspired electronic music is the perfect beginning to a funky weekend. Fans fills the floor by the tail end of the set, just in time for them to play their take on Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason.”
After a quick break in music for the changing of the bands, we are right back at it again with the cream of the crop: Lettuce. Today’s set is fun and a bit laid back. Right out of the gate, guitarist Eric Krasno rips a beautiful solo. You can tell this is going to be a wonderful set.
The guys in Lettuce sound tight as ever and are sharply on point all afternoon with quick riffs from every angle that keep the crowd movin’ and groovin’. Oteil Burbridge is welcomed on stage for “Slippin” and everyone is in a slow funky haze.
Antwaun Stanley (commonly perfoming with Vulfpeck) takes the stage to show off his pipes and leads the party for a few minutes, covering Tower of Power “Knock Yourself Out.” Antwaun comes out again at the encore and joins Nigel Hall (keys) to close things out with “Do It Like You Do.” Non-stop dancing and good times, that’s what just happening all over the place.
Check out the full Lettuce Fool’s Paradise 2017 set video below, courtesy of The Sober Goat!
Lettuce Setlist — Friday:
00:00 MT. CRUSHMORE
14:07 ZIGGOWAT ~
26:12 DOUBLE HEADER
34:28 CHIEF IT UP TURN IT LOOSE
43:34 SLIPPIN (OTEIL BURBRIDGE)
54:21 KNOCK YOURSELF OUT (ANTWAUN STANLEY) Tower of Power Cover
1:01:38 NEW REEL
1:10:35 116TH ST
1:25:37 DO IT LIKE YOU DO (ANTWAUN STANLEY)
Honestly, I am a bit concerned for Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (JRAD) coming up next. How are they going to compete with the deliciousness that Lettuce just dished out? I think JRAD also knew they would have big shoes to fill so they came with a plan: they take the stage and start playing but not like other bands. This set is a special one as Jeff Chimenti (Dead & Company) fills in for Marco Benevento on keys. The full-tilt Grateful Dead cover band opens in mid jam with what seems like every instrument soloing at once — all playing different songs that seem to be loosely attached and almost headed in the same direction.
However complicated or overwhelming it may have been to start, they begin to get more cohesive and intense as they progress. A build up ensus and where a drop should have been to provide relief to the anticipating crowd, another build up appears, only this one more intense and a higher climb. Just when we couldn’t possibly climb anymore, they drop into “Good Lovin” … and the crowd goes absolutely bananas.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead is a multi-headed beast who’s special ability is to play various genres of music simultaneously. Experimenting which direction to go mid song, these guys aren’t afraid to make a mistake. It seems to me they have competing ideas of which style to play. Different instruments are pulling the band in contrasting directions while still playing the same song as a whole. The battle between the walking blues one moment and southern rock the next.
Another beautiful solo by guitarist Tom Hamilton (American Babies, Brothers Past, Electron & more) leads the band into a new song with sit-in bassist Otiel Burbage (Dead & Company, Allman Brothers Band, & more). The Grateful Dead songs have a way of playing hard to get, trying to remember their names while dancing. Once the chorus comes around we know every single word and I wonder how I could have forgotten. This one, with Oteil and now Adam Deitch coming out to help of drums, eluds me until everyone sings out to help the band, and then I knew, it is “Dancing in the Streets.”
Although he may have only been slated to sit-in one song, I don’t think Oteil could help himself as he stays on stage for “Brown Eyed Woman” and the beautiful closing tune, “I Know You Rider” which gets the whole crowd singing in unison. This is a super impressive set with unbelievable sit-ins. Check out the full Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Fool’s Paradise 2017 set video below, courtesy of The Sober Goat!
Jam @ ~
Good Lovin ~
Ruben & Cherise ~
Not Fade Away # ~
Loser $ ~
The Eleven ~
Dancing In The Streets % ~
Brown Eyed Women % ~
I Know Your Rider % *
@ – With “China-Rider Transition” Teases (TH)
# – With a New Speedway Boogie Tease (TH)
$ – With Ruben & Cherise Teases (Band) in the intro
% – With With Oteil Burbridge on Bass & Dave on Drums &/or Bass as well
* – With a “National Anthem” (Radiohead) Jam and Morning Dew Teases (TH)
But, it’s not over yet! We still have more live music to pair with the late night parties. We walk across the parking lot, through a group of people blowing up balloons (maybe they were setting up for a birthday party), 😛 had a few moments recovering and prepping for more rage, then we make our way to the Elk’s Lodge where Jaw Gems opened for Eric Krasno Band.
Jaw Gems again are a great warm up (saw them open for Lettuce in St. Pete @ Jannus Live). Eric Krasno Band just dropped their debut album, Blood From A Stone. My favorite song is the second song of the set, “Jezebel.” The slow song reminds me somewhat of the lounge music of Sharon Jones (RIP) & The Dap-Kings. Some fans are a bit weary of Krasno’s singing but I think he stayed in his range. They finish out a great day with originals and covers including the Dead’s “Sugaree.” Antwaun Stanley is just one of several guest sit-ins for this late night party. Check out this clip of the Eric Krasno late night, courtesy of The Sober Goat!
After the show, we endure the five minute drive to our hotel. We then enjoyed the St. Augustine beach until sunrise accompanied with some late late (late) night drinks with friends, making for a great finish to day one and an early beginning of day two.
Fool’s Paradise gives fans the opportunity to hang out with some of the artists from the weekend and participate in activities such as: a sailing adventure and DJ set with The Shady Horns; Putt-Putt with Jesus Coomes from Lettuce, Antwuan Stanley from Vulfpeck, and Lyle Divinsky from The Motet; or as my friend The Sober Goat did, Ping-Pong Tournament with Adam Deitch (Lettuce/Break Science) or Adam Smirnoff (Lettuce). The Goat makes it deep into the first round but goes down gracefully in a close third game and does not get the opportunity to face Deitch or Smirnoff. While afternoon activities are going on, music is still happening at The Elk’s Lodge with Ajeva (St. Petersburg), The Groove Orient (Orlando), and Ben Strok & The Full Electric (Jacksonville, formerly Heard of Watts), rocking for people who the early risers (music started at 1pm hahaa).
We are able to wake up and make it to the amphitheater in time to catch the always impressive funkness, The Main Squeeze. They start with a soulful and slow song to show off lead vocalist Corey Frye’s amazing range and passion to get the crowd slowly groovin’. The song picks up and guitarist Max Newman impressed for the first time of the day, but not the last, getting the party kickin’ into high gear. The Indiana University natives and now Los Angeles staples, hits two of their signature staples: “Dr. Funk” and “In a Funk.” A special moment comes when they announce they are inviting Antwaun Stanley on stage to help them play a song they hadn’t played before: “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison, 1996. The amazing song just fit the moment and matches the speed of the afternoon. A look around the venue reveals energetic fans singing and dancing with their friends at max volume.
They finish up with “I’ll Take Another (Give Me One More)” which perfectly mirrors the fan’s desire for more funk music! Check out this video of “Return of the Mack” and “I’ll Take Another”, courtesy of The Sober Goat!
After a short trip to friend’s campsites, we are back at the stage for one of my favorite bands — The Motet of Denver Colorado. This multi-talented and crazy-versatile band is a leading Afrobeat and world music band. They are killin the funk scene with creative songs, big time funk bass lines (Garrett Sayers, bass), and some of the best horns (Gabe Mervine, trumpet, Drew Sayers, tenor sax) and keys work around (Joey Porter, keys). Oh and did I mention their awesome singer, Lyle Divinsky?!
The Denver Funkateers kick off the set with “Damn.” Then in “Like We Own It” Gabe Mervine has a rippin solo. “So High” is next and Joey Porter used the talk box to wow the crowd. The Motet keeps the party set to full blast with “Keep on Don’t Stoppin’.” They finished up with a high-energy dance off, “The Truth,” and boy were are impressive. There is #NeverADullMoment and the Lyle has the crowd clapping a cheering all afternoon… he is a dancing machine.
After the set, people are obviously tired from dancing for an hour straight and took time to get water and seats in the shade. Check out The Motet at Fool’s Paradise 2017 full set video, courtesy of The Sober Goat!
We take it to the seats too and watch what The Floozies bring the table. The producer/drums duo from Lawrence, Kansas. Brothers Matt and Mark Hill formed The Floozies in January 2010. Their glitchy and random sounding music is funky and fun. It has the crowd with their arms in the air, bouncing to the music. The Shady Horns from Lettuce sit in with the Brothers’ Glitch and cover Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “Serpentine Fire” with a slower funk step to it. Halfway through the song, Eric Bloom, the trumpet player blows his mic and the music came to a halt. After a moment of “oh shit did that just happen?” the drummer started the beat back up. After a few head-high karate kicks from Bloom we are back up and running with renewed enthusiasm. A fun set to watch, it is cool to see so many people ready to “get busy in a Burger King bathroom.”
And now the main act: Lettuce, part two! A full 2 hour set is dark and stormy the whole time. Featuring songs and tracks from their newest two albums: Crush (2015) and Mt. Crushmore (2016). Although there isn’t a spotlight on any one member, the group’s vibe is amazing. The lights were on point with rapidly changing colors focused on tasteful but dark color pallets. During “The Force” the crowd enjoys a small glow stick war that lit up the amphitheater and brought a smile to this reporter’s face. 😎
The highlight of the set may have been when Antwaun Stanley again comes back out on stage with them and covered Vulfpeck’s “Funky Duck.” Oh wait, no maybe the highlight was when the Funk Masters played “Madison Square” > “Exodus” > “Madison Square.” The Bob Marley cover is very dubbed-out and fit the vibe of the night for sure.
The encore to end the beautiful weekend in the amphitheatre is “Sounds Like a Party to Me” and it is a great song to go out on! The funny moment at the end of the show is Nigel Hall saying “We are Lettuce, bum da bum bum bum,” like they do in Farmer’s Insurance commercials.
Lettuce Setlist — Saturday:
READY TO LIVE
FUNKY DUCK (ANTWAUN)
ENCORE: SOUNDS LIKE A PARTY
A blur of an aftershow in the Elk’s Lodge sees Dumpstaphunk followed by a parade of musicians and vocalists up on stage to put in their two cents with the Fools AllStar Dumpsta Jam. The evening has a perfect ending with the mixed bag of musicians covering Herbie Hancock’s “Rock It.”
Oh what a weekend! So many good bands and great moments. Seeing old friends and making new ones in the beautiful Florida spring weather. The venue is great, the bands are great and the weather is phenomenal. Lettuce, Paul Levine and Silver Wrapper once again brought the treasure to Fool’s Paradise, where funk marks the spot!
Last year’s inaugural event was no joke. Check out our review, photos, and videos from Fool’s Paradise 2016 HERE.
Fool’s Paradise 2017 Photos
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