Bootsy Collins and Lettuce, positively helping to keep the funk alive At the beginning of lockdown, the legendary funk bassist began posting uplifting messages to Instagram, where they found a receptive audience in drummer Adam Deitch of the band Lettuce.

Bootsy Collins and Lettuce, positively helping to keep the funk alive

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Sometimes the right words reach you at just the right time, like in this story, which begins with a musical legend posting a video on Instagram.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BOOTSY COLLINS: Hey, funkateers (ph).

MARTIN: It was the beginning of the pandemic.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

COLLINS: Ah, the name is Bootsy, baby. And we are all on lockdown.

MARTIN: And Bootsy Collins had a message.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

COLLINS: Musicians, y'all already know. Artists, y'all already know. You know, you need to get busy right now. This is the time where magic happens.

MARTIN: And Bootsy is someone who knows musical magic.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOOTZILLA")

COLLINS: (Singing) Yabba dabba doozy, baba (ph).

MARTIN: If you had to sculpt the Mt. Rushmore of funk...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOOTZILLA")

COLLINS: (Singing) The world's only rhinestone rock star doll (ph)...

MARTIN: ...You'd want to make space for his top hat and superstar glasses. Bootsy grooved with James Brown...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUPER BAD")

JAMES BROWN: (Singing) Watch me. Watch me. I got it.

MARTIN: ...And lit up the mothership of Parliament.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLASH LIGHT")

PARLIAMENT: (Singing) Everybody's got a little light under the sun.

MARTIN: Aside from being a brilliant bassist, Bootsy Collins has been called an elder statesman of funk. So when he posted that Instagram message during the pandemic, someone from a younger generation saw it and felt it - the drummer Adam Deitch from the band Lettuce.

ADAM DEITCH: And we were all musicians. We're off tour. We're depressed. We ain't making no money, and...

COLLINS: (Laughter).

MARTIN: He and Bootsy Collins talked to me from Cincinnati Public Radio.

DEITCH: And you came on, like, hey, it's going to be OK, everybody.

COLLINS: Wow.

DEITCH: You know? It's going to be all right.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

COLLINS: See you next week with a brand-new show, baby, ever-funkin' on (ph). And keep that funk alive. Keep that funk alive. Let me hear you say it.

DEITCH: Just keep that funk alive.

COLLINS: I starting singing it (laughter).

DEITCH: Just like that. And I was like, hold on a second.

COLLINS: Wow.

DEITCH: That's a song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEP THAT FUNK ALIVE")

LETTUCE: (Singing) Keep that funk alive. Keep that funk alive.

MARTIN: Adam Deitch took Bootsy's unofficial mantra and turned it into a song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEP THAT FUNK ALIVE")

COLLINS: Hit me now.

LETTUCE: (Singing) Keep that funk alive.

COLLINS: Say what?

LETTUCE: (Singing) Keep that funk alive.

COLLINS: I can't hear you, baby.

LETTUCE: (Singing) Keep that funk alive.

COLLINS: I can't - watch me (ph).

LETTUCE: (Singing) Keep that funk alive.

COLLINS: Hit me now.

DEITCH: That was exactly what I needed to hear.

COLLINS: Yeah.

DEITCH: Even if we're locked in, even if we're in the house, there's this stuff - this music we can make.

MARTIN: Yeah.

DEITCH: There's things we can do.

COLLINS: Yeah.

DEITCH: And make plans for the future.

COLLINS: Yeah.

MARTIN: Were you having a hard time, Adam, staying motivated?

DEITCH: Well, it was the first break I've had in about 20 years. I'd just been hitting the road since early 2000s. And it was a break that I kind of needed. But I also didn't know...

COLLINS: You wasn't going to take it.

DEITCH: I didn't...

COLLINS: You wasn't going to take that break, you know?

DEITCH: Right. I would have never take that - taken that break.

COLLINS: Yeah. Yeah. I think - Bootsy here. I think that we all needed that kind of break. We just didn't have sense enough to take it, you know?

DEITCH: (Laughter).

MARTIN: Yeah.

COLLINS: You know, sometimes things have to happen so we can kind of calm down a little bit and hear what the universe is saying. And to me, at that time, that's what the universe was saying.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEP THAT FUNK ALIVE")

COLLINS: (Singing) We're nothing but seeds, and then we grow. So be careful how you sow. Like stardust illuminating the sky, once so beautiful, but then we die.

Oh, so eloquent, so fragile to touch. In a minute, you know, (singing) we all going to turn right back to dust.

MARTIN: Adam recorded a demo of the song. Then he sent it to Bootsy, whom he'd never met before. Bootsy Collins was thrilled to hear that his message had sunk in.

COLLINS: It kind of blew my mind 'cause when I threw that out there, you know, it's kind of like - I do that at shows every now and then, tell the audience to keep the funk alive as we going off.

MARTIN: Yeah.

COLLINS: When he actually took it and developed a song around it - and the next thing I know, it was like - I was, like, all smiles, you know, because he did what my funk anthem is. He took something and made something out of nothing. That's what the funk is.

MARTIN: But...

DEITCH: I mean, it wasn't complete till Bootsy got on it.

MARTIN: There you go. Yeah, I was going to say.

(LAUGHTER)

DEITCH: That was the missing piece.

MARTIN: Yep, Adam's work inspired Bootsy to record his own voice and bass and send it back. Adam mixed all those flavors and cooked up the song that became the centerpiece of his band's new album. It's out tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEP THAT FUNK ALIVE")

COLLINS: Now, put your hands together, baby. Come on and stomp your feet. Yeah. Lettuce.

And when you came back with the choices that you made, it had developed into a song.

MARTIN: Yeah.

COLLINS: That groove right there told me that, man, they're to be reckoned with, you know?

DEITCH: Thank you, man.

COLLINS: These boys (ph) is funky for real.

DEITCH: Appreciate you.

COLLINS: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KEEP THAT FUNK ALIVE")

LETTUCE: (Singing) Keep that funk alive. Keep that funk alive.

COLLINS: Say what?

LETTUCE: (Singing) Keep that funk alive.

COLLINS: I can't hear you baby. (Singing) Oh, keep that funk alive, baba (ph).

MARTIN: Why'd you want to call it "Unify"?

DEITCH: Well, the album's called "Unify," and I just felt like there was a lot of division going on...

COLLINS: Yeah, yeah.

DEITCH: ...And a lot of people arguing about a whole bunch of stuff.

COLLINS: Yeah.

DEITCH: Even within the band, it was always like, hey, what we need is to unify.

COLLINS: Wow.

DEITCH: You know? Because that's what funk music does. It brings people together.

COLLINS: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Being a band, people think you're having fun every time you do this and every time - you know, it gets tough. It's like a marriage. You rely on each other in your ups and your downs. That, to me, is in this "Unify" album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYTHING'S GONNA BE ALRIGHT")

LETTUCE: (Singing) All across the land, the people standing tall hand in hand for a change. Everything, everything is going to be all right. We fighting wrong or right. We stand up to injustice day and night - for a change. Everything, everything is going to be all right.

COLLINS: For me, all these years I've been out here, to see new cats coming on the scene and really being devoted, you know, to their craft and playing their notes and playing the notes together, you know?

DEITCH: (Laughter).

COLLINS: Anybody can play a note, but when you start playing them together, that's a whole nother ballgame.

(LAUGHTER)

DEITCH: Let us learn from you, Mr. Collins.

COLLINS: Oh, man (laughter).

DEITCH: We studied your records, sir.

(SOUNDBITE OF LETTUCE SONG, "GRAVY TRAIN")

MARTIN: Bootsy Collins.

COLLINS: (Laughter).

MARTIN: The great bassist.

DEITCH: Yes.

MARTIN: Philosopher king. Bootsy Collins.

COLLINS: Oh, man.

MARTIN: Also, drummer Adam Deitch of Lettuce...

COLLINS: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...Whose album is called "Unify."

DEITCH: Yeah.

MARTIN: You two, what a pleasure it's been. Thank you for bringing the funk.

COLLINS: Thank you for spreading that funk and keeping that funk alive.

DEITCH: Always.

COLLINS: Let's do it.

DEITCH: Forever.

COLLINS: Let's do it.

(SOUNDBITE OF LETTUCE SONG, "GRAVY TRAIN")

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