Backbeat: Soulive, Lettuce Headline Royal Family Records Showcase, Talk New Albums
Backbeat: Soulive, Lettuce Headline Royal Family Records Showcase, Talk New Albums

,Royal Family Records
The Minds Behind Royal Family Records (L-R): managers Jeff Krasno and Morgan Young, Soulive drummer Alan Evans, guitarist Eric Krasno, keyboardist Neal Evans.

Royal Family Records
Eric Krasno performing with Lettuce.

Brooklyn's own Royal Family Records celebrated its second annual Royal Family Ball showcase in New York City Saturday night (Oct. 15) at Terminal 5, with label stalwarts Soulive and Lettuce headlining a night that also included a DJ set by Lettuce guitarist Shmeeans and performances by blind acoustic guitarist Raúl Midón and Rahzel, former beatboxer for The Roots.

Soulive and Lettuce have been on a rare joint tour of the Northeast but brought out a few friends and label mates for the special New York throwdown, including The Shady Horns, Grammy Award-winning trumpet player Roy Hargrove, keyboardist James Hurt and rapper Pharoahe Monch.

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Most of the Royal Family hierarchy were in attendance, including Jeff Krasno, brother of Soulive and Lettuce guitarist Eric Krasno, and Morgan Young, who both help manage Soulive and run the daily operations of the label, Royal Family web developer Arthur Shim, also of Root Down! Media, and publicist Kevin Calabro of Calabro Music Media. Also on hand were videographers from who planned to tape the show for the site's Revivalist channel.

Much of the talk backstage revolved around the extensive recording projects that much of the label will be involved with in the coming year. Soulive is expected to get back into the studio to record a follow-up to its 2009 original album "Up Here," after the band spent much of the past year recording and touring in support of its 2010 release "Rubber Soulive," a collection of funkified Beatles covers. Lettuce, composed of Krasno and keyboardist Neal Evans from Soulive along with Shmeeans, bassist Erick Coomes, drummer Adam Deitch and The Shady Horns, will also be getting back into the studio to record its third album, as this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the group dating back to its days at Berklee College of Music in Boston. The record is, according to Young, already written.

Perhaps most exciting is the imminent release of "Sparks," a 4-song EP collaboration between the members of Soulive and Karl Denson, dedicated to classic soul and jazz guitarist Melvin Sparks who died just as recording for the project was beginning earlier this year. Krasno -- as if he wasn't busy enough this year -- also plans to head into the studio to record a solo album featuring many of the guests that he worked with while producing the last album for Malian singer Vieux Farka Toure, which included Dave Matthews, Derek Trucks and John Scofield.

The show itself was electrifying, keeping the packed Terminal 5 crowd, many of whom sported gold crowns to commemorate the event, moving deep into the night. Midón deserves mention for his solo show, which featured his slap-finger picking style of guitar playing alongside his multi-dimensional voice, which he used to mimic his guitar runs. Soulive then heated things up with a set that included the tracks "Something" and a stunning "Eleanor Rigby" from "Rubber Soulive," before bringing out The Shady Horns for a 10-minute run through "Hat Trick" off "Up Here" that oozed the funky tightness that the band has cultivated throughout the years. And Lettuce, who plays so infrequently together that every live show has the cache of being a special event, debuted new tracks from its upcoming album as well as bringing out Monch and Hurt to the delight of the audience.

The Royal Family Ball tour will continue with Soulive and Lettuce through November 5, concluding at Philadelphia's Theatre of the Living Arts.

Royal Family Records
Soulive performing with Raul Midon.