Roosevelt Collier and Friends have a monster Suwannee Getdown
Saturday at the Roosevelt Collier’s Suwannee Getdown started at the beach, with music courtesy of Trey Hebron and a number of artists who will be part of the inaugural Reunion: Campout Concert series August 21st and 22nd at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. In addition to swimming, floating and tubing in the Suwannee, many revelers also utilized the enormous slip-n-slide provided by the park from the top of the hill all the down to the water. SPLASH!
The beach music was coordinated by Vlad the Inhaler, with DJ sets from Cat Party, Ancient Deep, Lurk City, and Shwillwave Frat Party (Vlad and Matt Connor). Loopers also performed: Matt Henderson & The Invisible Friends and Jameyal. It was a blast! I especially enjoyed the deep house music of Lurk City, and friends were raving about Jameyal.
Music began in the Music Hall at 8:30 with Paul Levine introducing the Eugene Snowden Band. As Eugene explained, he had a band, but they wouldn’t practice, so he got “these guys.” “These guys” included Tim Turner (Shak Nasti) on guitar, Terrence on bass, and drummer Anthony Cole (Mofro). Snowden was also playing a guitar (and numerous people observed they had never seen him with one before).
Immediately, the band ripped into a nasty blues number titled “Going Down South,” with Eugene wailing “I don’t care where you’re going.” The second tune was similar in melody to “I Just Want to Make Love to You.” It was a wicked, bad-ass blues song called “Skinny Woman (Crazy Woman):” “I don’t want no crazy woman!” he sang.
Then Eugene started hunting for drummers. Ito Colon (Shak Nasti) was just offstage. Eugene said, “Where’s Rion Smith (Shak Nasti)?” Colon sat down, Smith climbed on stage, and Turner and Terrence went off. Eugene moved back near the percussion triumvirate with a hand drum, like a small tambourine with a drum head. What followed was a master class in African drumming, with all four of them trading back and forth and Eugene vocalizing from time to time. My notes at the time: “WOW.”
Eugene could make a living doing stand-up comedy, I’m convinced. First, he changed his story about the band, saying something about not getting the people he wanted, but adding “It wouldn’t be better than these guys!” Before the next song, he said, “I’m Nipsy… (pause)… Russell. I’m about to be Tipsy Russell soon.” He called up Jacob Cox (Holey Miss Moley) to play guitar with Turner. What evolved was a most unusual and interesting take on “Sittin’ On Top of the World.”
The last tune, in Eugene’s words: “That was just a huckbuck thing. Made it up!” It was a rocking tune featuring the guitars, and he gave Cox plenty of space to show his stuff, which he did admirably. It was a great way to start the evening.
Holey Miss Moley (from Central Florida, basically all over) was next. This was wonderful seeing this band in such a setting. Since evolving initially as a jazz-funk band, HMM has added numerous dimensions to their sound. This set was a perfect example. They led off with two great band originals, “Naugatuck” and “Bermuda Triangle.” These two songs featured Danny Clemmons on vocals with Miss Robyn Alleman on backup vocal. There have been a variety of people in the drum chair since November, when drummer Tony Morales injured his left wrist. For the first time, he was back in the chair, one-handed! And he did a great job.
Next up was “Doodle Oop,” a rarely performed Meters’ tune. Christian Ryan put down his saxophone and knocked out a great flute solo. He switched back to tenor sax for “JaJam,” a band original that often follows a different Meters song, “Ain’t No Use.” This time, “JaJam” featured a slowed down middle section, with Ryan again on flute.
I had to run up to the rail for the next one. At the Great Outdoors Jam, HMM covered a song by Orgone (I’m pretending they did it just for me!), “Don’t Stop.” Robyn Alleman let her voice loose, and it was awesome. More of that, please!
Beyond the addition of vocalists to the band, they have also introduced hip hop elements, inviting other singers on stage. Travis Young (Ajeva) joined the band for “I Wanna Do Something Freaky to You” (Leon Haywood), “Nothin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” (Snoop Dogg), and “ATLiens” (Outkast). Young and Clemmons have this shizz down! Ajeva bandmate Reed Skahill came up to sing “No Diggity” (Blackstreet), with Young on traps.
Mikey Guzman sounded great on keyboards all set; his organ colored many of the songs brightly. Meanwhile, back at the bass, this might have been the best set I’ve heard from Kenny Harvey. He was killing it. There was a lot going on, but Jacob Cox’s guitar soared through time and again. It was a great team effort.
Tim Turner came out for “Devil Funk,” and then Roosevelt strolled on stage with his lap steel to join in on “Shake It with Me,” Danny Clemmons begging and pleading. It turned into an Afrobeat romp with Ryan on baritone sax. Roosevelt stayed on stage for “Sho’ Nuff” with its riotous intro. Percussionist Vernon Suber and Morales had a great duet, with Roosevelt applauding Morales’ gutsy one-handed performance. Then it was drums and flute, then electric piano, and then the whole band, Ryan on alto, Cox blistering on guitar. At some point, Ryan was playing tenor and alto simultaneously a la Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
Roosevelt told us to holler for an encore, and he played “Heart of Steel” (Galactic) with them to close out the Holey Miss Moley set.
During the break, I stepped into the courtyard to check out Matt Henderson & The Invisible Friends. The next two sets were scheduled as Shak Nasti, then Roosevelt Collier, or vice versa, depending on which schedule you were reading. Didn’t matter. Paul Levine told me, “These next two sets will be all the same musicians.” That made perfectly good sense, given how well they interweave and collaborate.
I neglected to mention Levine’s introduction Friday evening. “Hey everyone, please welcome to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park for the… 25th time… Rion Smiths and the Comets, everybody. Give a warm welcome to Shak Nasti, everybody!”
Sure enough, on stage Saturday were Roosevelt Collier, Shak Nasti (Turner, Colon, Smith and Matt Lapham), and Anthony Cole. They started with a song called “On the Spot,” so named by Turner because they invented the jam on the spot. It was a real rocker, with the three drummers blasting away. Cole and Smith are perfect together, their polyrhythmic styles in lockstep, with Colon adding a whole host of sounds and textures. Also perfect together are Turner and Collier. I’ve been privileged to see this pairing a dozen times, and it never gets old.
An even bigger rocker followed, which seemed to be based on “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” That was followed by my favorite cover tune by Shak Nasti, Bobby McFerrin’s “All I Want.” Roosevelt and Turner blew the lid off this, with Lapham anchoring everything on bass. And Roosevelt was playing harmony to Turner’s vocals, as they grinned at each other.
There was another theme running throughout the evening: ‘two-letter bingo.’ There were different words and phrases being projected onto the screen behind the musicians. It actually started Friday, at the start of Roosevelt’s set. Anthony Cole said, in his deep voice, “B-32 (Reading the number projected on the screen).” Somebody yelled, BINGO! Cole: “Get your new cards out.” At the end of the set, he said, “N-74.” Again, somebody shouted BINGO! Cole: “Please turn your cards over and get your chips.”
At the beginning of Saturday’s set, Cole started up again: “Yeah, unfortunately, we’re out of bingo cards tonight, ladies and gentlemen. We’re out of cards. If we could get some more, some more bingo cards that would be great, if we could get some more.” As people on and off stage called out numbers, he read the first on projected on the screen: “B-24. This is two-letter bingo.” More crowd banter. “O-69.”
Roosevelt said they were going to perform an Anthony Cole composition. Much frivolity and clowning ensued, as AC talked about Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson and sang snippets of “All Night Long” and “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” before getting to the actual song, “Temporary Girl.” And then it got really funky. So funky, in fact, that MFN photographer Bryan Edward walked by and opined, “That’s a deep pocket.” Me: “Really deep.” Bryan: “That’s a Trump pocket right there!” I about fell on the floor!
Suddenly, AC called for just vocals. Eugene Snowden had been on stage for a while, and this sort of thing is his forte. AC and Eugene had a brilliant vocal tennis match around the word “Time,” and finally the band re-entered for “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground).” And set break.
There were shenanigans afoot during the break (just for your birthday, Kerri). Two pranksters who shall go unnamed (but looked suspiciously like Volkemon and Scott) spied this five-foot stuffed banana with a huge Christian Ryan mustache sitting unattended at the next table. (It had been there all evening.) One of them grabbed a chair while the other retrieved the banana, which was placed on the chair at Roosevelt’s pedal steel guitar. No matter how well such a prank might have been scripted, it went waaaay better than that!
Roosevelt came out, saw the banana, and proceeded to strike up a conversation with it! “So what’s going on with this? Have you got any arms? You can’t even reach the pedals. What’s going on? Your eyes look blue. You kinda look like a little softer. You look like… a banana. There’s a lot of yellow going on. So who’s going to play guitar? We’re gonna cll you my friend. Meet my new friend… Rodriguez! You have to go back stage. I’ll be backstage later when I’m done. Go back to your parents.” About this time, AC got on his mic back at his drum kit and started speaking for the banana. It was awesome! Then Roosevelt asked who was family to Rodriguez, and eventually the banana left the stage. You can listen to the exchange here.
For the beginning of the second set, Roosevelt sat down with a cigar-box guitar, Eugene sitting down with mic and tambourine. A magnificent blues number was the result of the superb pairing.
Everybody came back on stage, and then… yes!… Roosevelt (back to lap steel) and Turner were doing that twin guitar thing that led into “Hot ‘Lanta.” Scorching, actually. The drummers were having a field day, and Lapham once again was melting faces with his ridiculous bass lines.
If that were not enough, Danny Clemmons came back on stage, and Dave Mann (guitar, FunkUs) joined them, along with two of the hard-working sound guys, one on alto sax and the other on guitar. And Ryan on tenor sax, at Roosevelt’s request. That’s one hell of a band. They dove right into “Superstitious,” with Clemmons taking the lead and Eugene right there with him. The horn riff of “Superstitious” is universally known, and Ryan and the sound engineer on alto nailed it. Ryan took a solo, then the alto guy. Everybody got some space as the song morphed into “You Haven’t Done Nothin’.” As the tune wound down, Roosevelt implored Dave Mann to take the last solo, and he shot it into orbit.
Levine was on stage: “We got more time! How about some love for Roosevelt Collier right here?” The roar of the crowd indicated approval. All the while Paul was mentioning the other performers, Cole was calling out bingo numbers. Roosevelt said, “We’re gonna play a Shak Nasti tune, and you can get down to a Shak Nasti tune!” The encore was “Monster,” and it was. And Levine on stage one last time, thanking everyone for a great weekend.
What a fabulous weekend! Great bands, great DJs, air-conditioned Music hall, wonderful friends. The sound people were amazing, and Volkemon captured every second on audio, much of it on video. Actual proof.
Make your plans now for Suwannee Getdown #3 September 11 & 12!
Thanks again, Paul and Roosevelt , for making this possible.
Below are setlist for both nights. Click the band name link for the archive.org recording.
[COOTER BROWN: 1, No Particular Place to Go, Bowlegged Woman Knock-Kneed Man, Freeway Jam, Born Under a Bad Sign > Who Knows > Red Hot Mama > Born Under a Bad Sign, Tales of Brave Ulysses, Boogie Baby; E: Rock Me Baby]
[SHAK NASTI: Mind Bomb, Reckless Side, Lisa, Treelocks, Lemon/Lime, Buzz; E: Frying Pan]
[ROOSEVELT COLLIER: Jam 1, Jam 2, Jam 3, Who Knows, Shaky Ground, Shuffle Blues, On My Way]
[JAMEYAL Beach set]
[ANCIENT DEEP Beach set]
[LURK CITY Beach Set]
[EUGENE SNOWDEN: Going Down South, Skinny Woman (Crazy Woman), Drum Song, Sittin’ On Top of the World, A Huckbuck Thing]
[HOLEY MISS MOLEY: Naugatuck, Bermuda Triangle, Doodle Oop, JaJam, Don’t Stop, I Wanna Do Something Freaky to You > Ain’t Nothin’ But a G Thang, ATLiens, No Diggity, Devil Funk, Shake It with Me, Sho’ Nuff; E: Heart of Steel]
[ROOSEVELT COLLIER & SHAK NASTI SET 1: On the Spot, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, All I Want, Temporary Girl; SET 2: 1 Cigar Box Song, Hot ‘Lanta, Superstitious > You Haven’t Done Nothing; E: Monster]
Photos courtesy of Volkemon, Suzette Sears Baird, and Arielle D’Ornellas
Recordings courtesy of Volkemon