Haw River Ballroom was recently treated to a double-billed funk invasion featuring Turkuaz and Lettuce—these vastly talented groups bring the promise of hard-hitting basslines, sizzling horns, and jazzy guitar riffs. The mixed crowd spanning a few decades in age came ready to dance in the venue tucked away in small Saxapahaw, North Carolina.
Turkuaz opened up the night—although either band can hold their own as headliners. The nine-piece band dazzled the patrons in their signature multi-colored outfits with the whole package: incredible stage presence, mild-altering instrumentation, and catchy lyrics. Early material kicked the night off with “The Rules” and “Let it Ride.” Attendees were able to sing along to “Tiptoe Through the Crypto” with the band members showing off their soulful sides. New material was showcased from Turkuaz’s latest LP Life in the City with “Make You Famous” followed by “Lady Lovely” allowing Josh Schwartz to stretch out his vocal pipes. Turkuaz showed respect to two large musical influences with covers of “Slippery People” by the Talking Heads and then closed out their set with Hot Chocolate’s “Everyone’s a Winner.”
After legs were stretched and our palettes were whetted, Lettuce hit the stage with a lengthy “Larimar” and let the funk flow with fan favorite “Sam Huff’s Flying Raging Machine” as the Shady Horns turned it up to 11. A psychedelic journey with “7AM” slowed it down just for a blast off into the always solid progressive and ever building jam of “Phyllis.” The dance floor and the band were surprised with an incredible treat as Nigel Hall announced that 7/8- string guru Charlie Hunter and his infectious smile was in the house. Charlie and guitarist Adam Smirnoff melted faces with an epic guitar battle during “By Any Shmeeans Necessary.” Happy vibes of “House” left permanent grins on faces as Lettuce said goodbye. Hunter was brought back out to close the venue down with Lettuce’s popular cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up.” Let Nigel sing!!
It was a staggering night of epic funk flavors and fantastic vibes that had the whole place moving. These two groups are on a vertical trajectory to the top of their genre as they bridge age gaps and burn down dance halls across the country.
[This lovely review and its accompanying photos were handcrafted by Eo8’s resident funk enthusiast Rich Harley.]