Fool’s Paradise brings back the funk

Fool’s Paradise celebrated its inaugural year at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre on April Fools’ Day weekend with much success. Headlined and hosted by funk superstars Lettuce, the event spanned two days and showcased some of the top names in the funk and jam scenes, as well as on the electronic circuit. Fool’s Paradise left attendees excited to continue the tradition for years to come. Although all of the music was fantastic, the following handful of acts especially caught my attention:

 

Vulfpeck

Leading up to Fool’s, I had heard nothing but good things about these guys, and they did not disappoint. As one of the few bands that performed two sets over the weekend, a late-night on Friday and a Saturday afternoon set, they did a phenomenal job of providing a new and exciting kind of show. Their performances featured constant instrumental rotations, audience interactions, and all-star collaborations with artists like Cory Henry (Snarky Puppy) and Eric Krasno (Lettuce/Soulive). There was also a wedding on stage right before their afternoon set, which made it an extra special occasion.

 

Goldfish

This South African electronic duo was without a doubt one of the best electronic bands I have ever seen. Their unique style blends live instrumental music with dance music in flawless fashion. I never thought I would see an electronic act feature an upright bass and flute/saxophone, but they made it work beautifully. I had the chance to speak with both members at different points of the weekend; they were very approachable and humble. I was hanging with the bass player at the Fools of Funk super jam and said “man, you guys really are doing things that no one else does and it is so amazing to watch artists bridge genre gaps like you do.” He simply replied, “What these guys do onstage is amazing. We just try to show the younger generation the light. For us, it was Jamiroquai; for the younger kids, we hope it is us.”

 

Fools of Funk Super Jam

This extra-special late-night jam could not have felt more true to the funk vibe of  the event. With so many artists that performed in similar super jams at events like Bear Creek, the entire set was nothing short of a magical experience. The core group consisted of Adam Deitch (Lettuce, Break Science) on drums, Adam Smirnoff (Lettuce) on guitar, Cory Henry (Snarky Puppy) alternating between keys and drums, Borahm Lee (Break Science/Pretty Lights Live Band) on keys, Nigel Hall on bass and vocals, Weedie Braimah (The Nth Power) on percussion; and Lettuce’s Shady Horns, Eric “Benny” Bloom, and Ryan Zoidis, on trumpet and saxophone, respectively. There were also numerous other artists that sat in, which included local saxophone virtuoso (and my roommate) Christian Ryan.

 

Lettuce

It would be impossible to leave the hosts off this list. Not only did Lettuce act as a fantastic host band, they also unleashed two mind-blowing, booty-shaking dance parties, and backed GRiZ in the debut performance of the GRiZ Live Band.

 

Chris Robinson Soul Revue 

Led by former front man of the Black Crows, the Soul Revue was a display of pure magic. The band, which featured George Porter Jr (The Meters), Ivan Neville (Dumpstaphunk), Nikki Glaspie (The Nth Power), Eric Krasno (Lettuce/Soulive) and Neal Casal (Circles around the Sun) and Lettuce’s Shady Horns. After only one short rehearsal, the band was firing on all cylinders and put on a performance that was nothing short of heart-warming. Despite a series of sound issues, they were able to power through with their powerful music and the passion from the crowd.

 

The Groove Orient 

Rollins’ favorite face-melters The Groove Orient performed two sets on Saturday. Ensuring all attendees left their sets fully Oriented, the five-headed rock monster set the stage ablaze and left the crowd pining for more. Be sure to catch their set at Fox Fest on Saturday, 4/16.

 

After such a successful inaugural year, I certainly look forward to seeing how the event develops and what tricks Live For Live Music, Purple Hate Productions, and Lettuce have up their sleeves for the years to come.

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