Mountain of Funk: Lettuce get started

Maybe the Beat Farmers Almanac was referenced when a three-night midwinter music festival was scheduled at the Crystal Bay Casino.

Snowlive was presented in previous years, but with a dry winter another name is more appropriate. 2015’s lineup features a variety music. The common denominator each night is something James Brown once called for: “Whatever it is, it’s got to be funky.”

Eric Krasno and Lettuce
Eric Krasno and Lettuce

“James Brown is the biggest influence in funk,” guitarist Eric Krasno, who will perform on the opening night with his longtime band Lettuce, said before 2013’s Snowlive.

While “Lettuce Pray For Snow” could have been a good name, the run of shows is called “Mountain of Funk.”

Electronic funk will be played with headliner the Floozies on Friday. On Saturday, co-headliners are Keller Williams and the Motet.

“This is something along the same lines as Snowlive,” Casino Manager Bill Wood said. “It’s three days of music that is connective in some manner, but the bands are all different. It’s so eclectic with Keller Williams and the Motet on the same night.”

Williams, who with his looping show is known as the “one-man jam band,” might be included because his new album is “Funk.”

Krasno, explained his interpretation of funk:

“Funk is all about the drums and percussion. Everybody in the band is playing a percussive part. It’s like West African drumming where each drummer has a part of the bed of the rhythm, all finding little syncopations that fit within each other. Each of those parts culminates together and creates an infectious rhythm. That’s the funk.”

The name Snowlive was a play on Soulive, Krasno’s trio which backed the headliners during what in 2012 and 2013 was a four-day festival.

“I thought Krasno was definitely one of the stars of Snowlive,” Wood said. “His musicianship is beyond compare. He’s able to gap with anybody who comes onstage.”

Like “Mountain of Funk,” Krasno’s influences are wide-ranging.

“I love it all,” he said. “I definitely went through a huge Hendrix phase in high school. That’s when I got into guitar. But I also was into bass. Paul Jackson. James Jamerson (of the Funk Brothers), Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, George Benson, Wes Montgomery. Pretty much all over the place.

Krasno’s brother is Jeff Krasno, a co-founder of the Wanderlust Festival which began at Squaw Valley. Although the Krasnos are from the East Coast, they visited family in Truckee as children and have an affection for the Lake Tahoe area.

Lettuce was formed in 1992 by Berklee College of Music students Krasno, rhythm guitarist Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, bassist Erik “Jesus” Coomes, alto sax player Ryan Zoidis, drummer Adam Deitch, keyboardist and Soulive member Neal Evans and trumpet player Rashawn Ross, the only original member who does not remain. The new trumpeter is Eric Bloom.

Mountain of Funk
Crystal Bay Casino
Shows begin at 9 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 5
Lettuce
Opener: LAMBchop
Red Room after-party: Break Science
Tickets: $30

Friday, Feb. 6
The Floozies, producer guitarist Matt Hill and drummer Mark Hill
Openers: Manic Focus and Sugarbeats
Red Room after-party: Forest Day
Tickets: $15 in advance or $18 on the day of the show

Keller Williams
Keller Williams

Saturday, Feb. 7
Keller Williams
Opener: The Motet
Red Room after-party: Mojo Green
Tickets: $25 in advance or $30 on the day of the show

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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