Roosevelt Collier Brings Music and a Message to Dunedin Brewery
The music was certainly the main feature of Roosevelt Collier’s two-night stand at Dunedin Brewery (October 9 & 10), but the soft-spoken pedal steel genius also had a powerful message to impart about the Save Our Stages movement. He mentioned the topic early and often and with great passion, because he has seen first-hand what it has done to the industry so many of us depend upon for our livelihoods and for our chink of sanity.
He implored us to make every effort to support venues such as DunBrew who continue to bring us music in a safe and responsible environment, and he renewed his commitment to play at such venues as often as possible. [It was just announced that Collier will return to Dunedin Brewery November 13. Tables will again be on a lottery basis once the request for people to request tables appears.]
The Roosevelt Collier Trio for these gigs involved Collier on pedal steel guitar (he did not play his unique lap steel guitar), Matt Lapham (Shak Nasti, Ded Uniklorn) on bass, and Yral ‘datdudeondrums’ Morris (Anthill Cinema). For night one, keyboard whiz Mark Mayea (Anthill Cinema, Ajeva) guested.
Collier explained before the start of night two that it would be a night of improv; they were just going to jam. If you’ve seen Collier in similar settings, then you know. We usually refer to the songs as Jam 1, Jam 2, and so forth. He explained that the previous evening they had played “Track 1 through Track 8,” or perhaps it was 9. “This,” he said, “was Track 10.”
And off they went. Collier and Lapham are regular bandmates. Morris has played with Collier a number of times, and he proved to be the perfect fit for the evening. The trio tore through Track 10 with reckless abandon, full-frontal madness. Every “song” clocked in at 10 to 15 minutes in range or more. Track 11 hit the funk at a slower pace, followed by an almost country-ish vamp for Track 12. After one of those, Collier said, “That’s called ‘Wash Your Hands!’”
Morris was superb keeping time for these improvisational outings. He could get heavy and immediately switch to a deft touch. Collier, his face permanently in wide smile position, was clearly loving being back on stage. His wife, Jill, acknowledged that he was grateful to be back out on the road, and it was great to get to speak with her.
And then there’s Lapham. I’ve said it before and will say it again, many times. Lapham is my favorite bass player on the planet. Regardless of the setting, his playing always takes a gig over the top, and this was no exception. A friend coined the term “spider fingers,” and I’ll never lose that image — the perfect description of his playing.
It was a very intimate gig — 30 patrons total owing to social distancing — and most had been sitting, so Collier exhorted us to “Get up and dance!” That was all it took for most to get deeper into the groove and on the dance floor.
Dunedin Brewery proprietor Michael Lyn Bryant, who also does all the talent booking, live-streamed the first set. The video was also available on the large screen inside the brewery.
Also, here in COVID-19 times, there is a huge canopy over most of the outdoor patio (used during events such as Oktobeerfest, which of course isn’t happening this year). Patrons who came to eat and drink outside could listen to the show for free on speakers set up outside.
Set two began with Track 14, but this wasn’t an improv. This was a tune attributed to Collier 11 years ago when he played with Shak Nasti at Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival (of blessed memory). [That 11.14.09 show will get a proper review next month.] Tim Turner of Shak Nasti called the song “On the Way.” We’ll go with that. The beautiful melody wafted through the brewery for almost 18 minutes.
Next, the trio dug into some deep blues, but this too was familiar. It was built upon the Jimi Hendrix jam “Who Knows.” Collier has often presented his Jimi Plays Funk show and will do so again October 23 at The New Standard in Winter Park with guitarist Eric Gales in tow. This version got down and dirty, everybody deep in the groove. Right at the end, Collier played the head of the tune straight up!
“Now we want to call a special guest to the stage. Can you guess who it is?” Collier asked us. “Maybe he came from afar. Any guesses? It’s Michael!” And with that, Michael Lyn Bryant came to the stage with a small stand and a tiny keyboard instrument — Teenage Engineering OP-1 — with his patented old-school phone. The jam that ensued — at least 20 minutes — was absolutely insane. Morris crushed; heck, everybody crushed. The entire room was swept up in the moment.
When it was done, Collier said, “I think we’ve got ten minutes left. So this is the encore!” And with that, the trio slammed into the Herbie Hancock opus “Chameleon” from his album Head Hunters. It was a wonderful way to close done a brilliant night of music, camaraderie, and messaging.
Thanks as always to Collier, Lapham, and Morris; to Bryant for his constant support of music and his work in presenting it safely; to the DunBrew staff; to house engineer Chris Fama for impeccable sound; and to the patrons inside, outside, and online who help to support live music.
[RC3: 1: Track 10, Track 11, Track 12, Track 13; 2: On the Way (Track 14), Who Knows Blues (Track 15), MLB Jam (Track 16); E: Chameleon]
Collier will also be performing at Monster Mash October 30-31 at Lone Palm Ranch in Hastings, Florida, and is also an artist at large.