Sacred Steel Guitarist Roosevelt Collier on His Success: "It's a Thrill to Be on the Ride"
Roosevelt Collier is a South Floridian through and through. The pedal steel guitarist, playing in the sacred steel tradition, gradually became a force of nature in the local jam community and his talents are now desired by some of the most famous musicians worldwide.
He first played gigs with his uncles and cousins in the Lee Boys, and then branched off for a solo career. He still finds time to jump on stage with plenty of heavy-hitters like Umphrey's McGee and Perpetual Groove. He puts his entire heart and soul into each song, making every one of them memorable.
With extensive touring and many festival appearances in 2014, it seems also that Collier is soon to be a huge national name with no state guarded against one of his patented "jambushes."
"This year has been pretty awesome," Collier admits. "The shows I've been able to be a part of have been incredible." He was on tour with the new saxophonist of the Rolling Stones, Karl Denson, and his outfit Tiny Universe. They had a string of nearly sold-out shows in Colorado and put on some history-making sets at Bear Creek right here in Florida.
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"Of course, Bear Creek was and always is a highlight," he says, "Playing with everybody from Dumpstaphunk to Turkuaz to all of the Soulive guys, and so many more, I know I'm forgetting." He was an "artist-at-large" at the event, meaning he had the ability to appear on stage during any given set.
But it seems his Bear Creek highlight was playing with Oteil Burbridge (bassist for the Allman Brothers and Tedeschi Trucks Band). "That set was amazing," Collier remembers. "Playing with Oteil is top notch, completely of the charts. You add some super musicians to the mix, it was like a dream."
Not only was he a huge fixture at Bear Creek in November, he was at the Wanee Music Festival, as well. During Wanee, he got on stage with the Allman Brothers toward the end of their last ever set at the festival that they've been putting on for the past nine years. "It's history," waxes Collier, "You know, to be able to say twenty years down the line that I was on-stage at that moment in time. It was a big moment."
Even with all of that under his belt, Collier still finds time to constantly show his native South Florida a whole lot of love. From December 18 to 20, 2014, he will be playing with the Heavy Pets throughout Florida, ending with a blowout show at Culture Room with Greenhouse Lounge and local favorites the Funky Nuggets.
Collier and the Heavy Pets have played together many times before, and it's always something special.
"We are South Florida boys, born and raised," says Collier speaking of their chemistry, "It just makes it better when groups of guys who have an impact on the scene come together. I was mad excited when they asked me to join. They called me up, I asked where and said, 'Sign me up, dude!' These guys are great, just great guys in every way, as musicians and people. They are easily the next biggest thing to come out of Florida. They all got great skills, songwriting and playing wise. All around great band, I can't wait for these shows."
He also has huge post-Phish shows coming up when the legendary act has its four-day run at American Airlines Arena. Collier plays on January 1 and 3. On New Year's Day, he'll be preforming with funk legend George Porter Jr. at Railroad Blues. And on that Saturday, the third, he'll be doing a Jimi Hendrix meets funk tribute set with Luther Dickinson from North Mississippi All Stars, Nigel Hall from the Nth Power, and Adam Deitch of Lettuce.
Even with this huge year under his belt, and everything he has coming up, he remains as humble as ever. "I'm not taking any of this for no kind of granted," says Collier about his recent success. "It's the thing people work and wait for these moments. It's a great feeling to watch other people get to this kind of point. It's a thrill to be on the ride."
And it's a sincere thrill to watch him take it.
Roosevelt Collier, with the Heavy Pets, Greenhouse Lounge, the Funky Nuggets, and DJ Scotty, 8 p.m., Saturday, December 20, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $15 at the door. Visit cultureroom.net and jambase.com.
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