ELF LETTUCE – Elf Lettuce EP
Elf Lettuce has built a strong following in the college-age markets including their hometown of Stevens Point as well as Eau Claire, Madison and Green Bay, playing frequently since forming in 2004. This summer the band relocated to Madison with a plan to expand their touring circle to include more of the Midwest. Around the same time they released their first EP, recorded at Big Rock Studios in Rosholt near Stevens Point.
Elf Lettuce likes to stir in the improv and they waste little time demonstrating that on their EP as the first tune, “Down by the Slums” features some stretching by both keyboardist Mark Breunig and guitarist Jacob Lison. They combine elements of early Traffic and Grateful Dead space jams on “Longway Road,” borrowing the chorus from “I’m a Man” before loping off toward the Mars Hotel in the middle section. “Red Sky Blues” is just about as funky as Wisconsin guys can get with some more stellar keyboard and guitar vamping, and employing that laid-back Dead feel. “Cold Main” is a ringer for a Weir-written tune with some nice three-part harmonies.
The Dead are the obvious influence on Elf Lettuce, with the space jams, complete with Garcia-inspired guitar improvisations. A look at the website reveals a painstaking log of setlists written in the same fashion as the Dead with “>”s serving as conjoiners. We could say Phish too, but that would be like saying the same thing.
Elf Lettuce is a likeable listen as they channel some positive cosmic vibes and project good times. They’ve had a number of players come and go from the lineup and Breunig is the latest to leave. With such a strong emphasis on his keyboards, it seems a challenge to recreate these tunes as a three-piece, even with Lison’s considerable skills. With luck, their move to Madison will be a fortuitous one as they mingle with the strong legion of like-minded musicians here and possibly bring the keys back into the mix.