On the Road to Purple Hatter’s: Roosevelt Collier Birthday Bashes

This year’s Purple Hatter’s Ball is going to end the same way the AURA Festival ended, with Roosevelt Collier’s Suwannee Jam. Two of the main events leading up to PHB are the Roosevelt Earth Day Birthday Bash in Jacksonville at Underbelly on April 22nd (with Herd of Watts and members of Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, Trae Pierce and the T-Stone Band, the John Parker Urban Band and S.P.O.R.E.) and Roosevelt’s Birthday Showdown in Orlando on April 23rd at St. Matthew’s Tavern, playing with Shak Nasti.

I first saw “The Doctor” at the 2009 Wanee Festival with the Lee Boys, but I didn’t pay much attention at the time (I have since rectified that mistake!). I had become a true fanboy of Shak Nasti, an incredible trio out of Orlando. I was considering going to Bear Creek that year when I saw that Shak Nasti had the opening slot at the amphitheatre. Score! They turned in a superb set, but afterward guitarist Tim Turner kept fretting (not that kind). “Roosevelt was supposed to be here, but he couldn’t make it in time.” Roosevelt who? I had no clue.

As good fortune would have it, there was an open time in the music hall the next day, and Turner said Roosevelt would be there for this one. Roosevelt who? Roosevelt and the trio were joined by Ras Trent Spears on tenor sax. Five songs, 70 minutes, mind blown. It was stunning. After a Meters’ opener (“Little Old Money Maker”), they went supersonic with a song of Roosevelt’s (“On the Way”), two Shak Nasti songs, and a blistering “Frying Pan” to come to a stomping conclusion. I damn sure knew who Roosevelt was now!

I saw Roosevelt with Shak Nasti four more times the next year and once more at Bear Creek 2011. Turner on guitar and Roosevelt on the pedal steel guitar are perfect together. Bassist Matt Lapham has teamed with Roosevelt often, including a New Year’s Eve gig in Miami. Lapham is a player of immense talent, and his polyrhythmic section mate, Rion Smith, and he are monstrous together.

It will be deluxe to hear Shak Nasti with Roosevelt again for his birthday party. “Yeah, man, the birthday party is about to be a smash with my O-town family. I’m coming to Orlando to have a birthday throw down with Shak Nasti.”

Collier has deservedly become a superstar on the scene, balancing time with the premier sacred steel band on the planet, The Lee Boys, and his various other gigs. He joins the Lee Boys for the Earth Day Jam in Salisbury NC (April 18th) and Springing the Blues in Jacksonville (April 19th).

After the birthday parties, he heads to New Orleans for that little shindig over there. Consider this show: May 2nd at Tipitina’s with Zappa Plays Zappa. And there will be more announced: watch his Facebook page. His summer schedule is jammed with festivals all over the country, including pairings with Oteil Burbridge at Summercamp (May 22-24) and the Peach Music Festival (August 13-16).

AND the finale of the Purple Hatter’s Ball, Roosevelt Collier’s Suwannee Jam! Shak Nasti has the amphitheatre set right before the jam. That’s the daily double for me! What a way to end a magnificent festival at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, courtesy of Brotherly Love Productions, in loving memory of Rachel Morningstar Hoffman.


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