Roosevelt Collier’s Suwannee Getdown Just Gets Better and Better

The fourth edition of Roosevelt Collier’s Suwanee Getdowns again exceeded all expectations with wall-to-wall amazing music and wonderful people. Mother Nature could not dampen the enthusiasm of performers and attendees alike. The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park is accurately named — the spirit is always so strong when you are there.


Lesson learned: never take one person’s word about events. Trust but verify. I had missed LAVA at Purple Hatter’s Ball, sleeping through their entire 4 AM set. I was determined to check them out at 7:30 Friday (February 5). But there was no music at 7:30. Somebody said, “They won’t start until 8:30.” We returned to the cabin and got back to the Music Hall a bit later than 8:30. And I got ten whole minutes of LAVA. Maybe 15. So this week I am chaining myself to the stage at the Little Econ Love Fest at 5:40 in advance of their 5:45 set. Third time’s the charm.

What I did get to hear was nothing short of spectacular. LAVA is an experimental band, with Jeremy Nix – keyboards/Ableton Live, Kyle Piety – keys/Ableton Live, and Leo Kulishevskiy – violin. Lotus sat in on bass.

Out in the courtyard, two of our hard-working hosts for the weekend, Vlad (the Inhaler) Kulishevskiy and Matthew Connor, had their turntables up and were playing some great deep house and much more, keeping the folks gathered around the fire pit moving.

Next up in the music hall was a collective called the Corbitt-Clampitt Experience, featuring harmonica wizard Isaac Corbitt and Brady Clampitt, lead vocals, keyboards & guitar; Brandon Buck, drums & percussion; and Jake Alessandrini on bass. Tom Rowe played tenor sax for much of the set.

It was ON from the very first note. And it was tough to tell who was having a better time — the band or the crowd. Let’s call it a tie. Rowe joined in right before a heartfelt rendition of “Blackwater,” which turned into a great jam. they called up host Roosevelt to sit in on a monster “Blind, Crippled and Crazy.” Clampitt’s vocals were superb, and he and Roosevelt took huge solos. Isaac, naturally, blew it up, literally, on harmonica on every tune. He is as good as it gets.

There was a great song about “love games” and a great cover of ABB’s “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’.” At some point, Norbitt Corbitt grabbed the guitar, Clampitt back to keyboards, and another tenor player joined the proceedings for several songs, including “Asshole Down the Road.” they also played a fascinating reworking of Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talking” and closed with a fine “Two Trains Running” (Doobs).

It was time for the main event. The Roosevelt Collier Trio was heading to the stage. Beyond that I believe Roosevelt is the premier pedal steel player, period, I was anxious to see what was going to happen on bass. Matt Lapham is the regular bassist, but he playing a string of sold-out shows with Popa Chubby in Europe (he messaged a photo from Switzerland Saturday).

Apparently, Roosevelt went to the Planet of the Astounding Bass Players and grabbed Shane Patton, who was beyond sick both nights. Absolutely incredible.

I missed the first tune. When I arrived, they were destroying “Machine Gun.” Roosevelt is so good doing Hendrix. Patton showed himself early on with a brilliant solo, followed by same from Roosevelt.

And then, to turn a phrase, shit got real. Anthony AC Cole is one of the greatest drummers I have ever seen, and he was the point man for the Parliament classic “Gettin’ to Know You;” he also handled the vocals and has a great voice. But this got deeper than deep. This might honestly be the deepest groove I have ever witnessed. TOTALLY. BLOWN. AWAY. Three songs into the set!

If that wasn’t real enough yet, it went over the top as Roosevelt called up all the musicians who had played earlier. Clampitt, Corbitt, LAVA boys and two saxes rushed the stage, and it was pure delight. Several jams included “Them Changes.” AC again nailed the vocals.

They attempted to quit, but host Paul Levine was having none of it: “One more?” A big roar from the crowd was answered with the great Funkadelic tune “Good to Your Earhole (Put Your Hands Together).” MONEY.

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This whole weekend was just an excuse to have an engagement party for Vlad the Inhaler and his lovely fiancée, Megan Henderson, alias Booty Boo. She got the noon set in the Music Hall (the small stage in the back). She was spinning some hot hip-hop on a chilly, drizzly day.

When she finished, Squeedlepuss launched their set in fine style on the main stage. This fest was a great affirmation of the Jacksonville music scene: Clampitt, Corbitt, LAVA, Squeedlepuss, S.P.O.R.E., Herd of Watts and most of the DJs claim Jax and vicinity as their home. Squeedlepuss are: Paul Miller – guitar/vocals, Dan Hunting – guitar, Javian Francis – keyboards, Mike Perez – bass, and Stefan Klein – drums.

Squeedlepuss describes their music as jazz/funk fusion, but this set demonstrated many more facets of their talent. The vocals were solid, as on “No Balls.” They hit a deep jam on “Chicken and Waffles” and unveiled a new ballad. Next up was a hot Dixie Dregs-style rocker, followed by a really stripped-down sound with syncopated lyrics on “Jump Down.” And they cracked everybody up when they announced their last tune, “Continuous Doobage.” Best set I’ve ever heard from them (get used to that sentence).

Sir Charles, a frequent visitor to the park, worked up a nice set of house music and hip-hop, clearing the way for S.P.O.R.E. to blow things up big-time on the main stage. By now, everything was behind schedule, but it would all work out. The band’s name is an acronym for Spontaneous. Progression. Of. Recurring. Energy.

They blasted out with “Jah-Bim-Ka,” some fabulous prog rock. The second tune was bouncier, and that led to some epic space prog in the for of “Origin of B.I.M.” Jahlonious Monk was a monster on guitar the entire set. Things turned funky, and Adam Kenneway, bass player for Bonnie Blue, filled in admirably, pushing this tune into beautiful trance-dance overdrive.

“Hamster Hash” had a very reggae-ish feel tune, courtesy of Chris Richards’ drums. Keyboard player Alex Sears was wailing on the clavinet, then switched to flute. The entire set had a trippy, ethereal feel to it.

In negotiating the dinner situation, we only saw the beginning of Cry Havoc’s DJ set and missed Bit Deff altogether. You can’t do everything, I am learning. Slowly.

In the past six months, Ajeva, the excellent funky band from St. Petersburg, had upped the ante by adding three members to the band, with tremendous results. And now they were threatening to turn their septet into a dectet (dektet? Anyway, ten of ‘em). They opened with “Looney Tunes,” after which the two ladies appeared, singing backup to Reed Skahill’s vocals. And they had added a trombone player as well.

“Try Not To” was just plain HOT, followed by a very funky “Funky Situation.” Then there was some stage shuffling, and Herd of Watts guitarist Ben Strok joined the fray for “2 Dope Boys.” The ladies returned, with host Roosevelt Collier in tow! My favorite Ajeva set ever — so far! This band can play with anybody. ANY. BODY.

Between sets, Matthew Connor had his rig set up at the other end of the Music Hall. Each time, he delivered perfect — for me — sets of deep house and acid jazz.

The Savants of Soul, nattily dressed in black suits and ties with white shirts, were up next. Male vocalist Justin McKenzie was resplendent in a powder-blue suit, while female singer Chelsea Oxendine looked even better. They were the victims, however, of unfortunate placement. Their very good set paled in comparison to the monster set Ajeva threw down and the incredible performance Herd of Watts would have next.

The Savants are an old-school soul and R’n’B review. Highlights included “I Just Can’t Pull the Trigger on You,” “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Missed Connections.” y was in fine voice all night. Roosevelt came out for “Honeychild,” which she sang, and stayed on for “20 Flight Rock,” while the horn section went down to the dance floor and strutted their stuff. They closed with the band’s new single, “Second-Chance Love.” I look forward to seeing the Savants again in a better time slot.

Connor had another great DJ set while Herd of Watts, another Jacksonville group, set up. The first tune was good, but clearly they were setting us up like bowling pins to knock us down on the hot jam that emerged from the second song. The rhythm section of Sean Thomas on bass and Jamal “Music City” Wright on drums had an incredible night.

Keyboard player was getting an awesome flute effect from his synthesizer, and that intro led into “Sledgehammer,” with Thomas handling the vocals. Next up was a effective, languid take on “Fire on the Mountain.” Roosevelt joined them for an amazing funk jam. He locked horns with Ben Strok for a great exchange. Did Roosevelt stay on stage for “Superstition? You already know the answer.

“Put Another Ring in Your Loop” featured a great electric piano solo from p. This was a tremendous set. Connor followed with more great music, and it was time for the finale.

Roosevelt, Patton on bass and Cole on drums again began with a brilliant jam. Early in the set, they reprised “Gettin’ to Know You,” killer once again. Then Roosevelt called up all the musicians who had played earlier. The stage isn’t that big, but many joined: Mark Mayea (Ajeva), Adam Kenneway (subbing with S.P.O.R.E.), Dean Arscott (Ajeva), Cedric Britton (tenor sax), and probably more.

The jam evolved into “Can We Funk You?” Then Strok came to the stage to help blow up “Shaky Ground.” At some point d from Herd of Watts took the kit, and Cole grabbed his tenor sax. This was huge. Cole’s drumming is always on the one, and d kept things deep in the pocket.

It was a joyous weekend of great music from wonderful players in the most beautiful setting ever. I might be prejudiced… a little bit. Thanks to Roosevelt Collier, Paul Levine, Vlad, Connor and everyone involved in making the magic happen.

When is number five?


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