Photos by Lori Sky Twohy
The ‘One Stop’ in downtown Asheville is the one stop spot for great musical entertainment most nights of the week and the locals know it! A week ago Thursday housed pedal steel/ sacred steel guitar extraordinaire Roosevelt Collier- frontman for the Lee Boys. He brought the funk hot off the Pisgah Brewery’s summer stage, where he injected his funky flare into “Toubab Krewe’s” amazing set the weekend before at the first annual “Carnavilito.” First time I saw this smiling cat, I was dancing barefoot with my one-year old son in his tie-dyed onesie at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa,Florida about 9 years ago.
Whether in Miami with the Lee Boys, jammin’ on stage with multiple bands at music festivals or passing through a local music venue; this always smiling, music man is usually found most days of the week surrounded by like musicians who share the love in creating great live music.
South Florida resident “Roosevelt C.” has acquired a unique style; rooted in gospel and infused with jazz, funk, rhythm & blues, producing a powerful mix. He began making music before the age of 10, along with most members in his extended musical family, where church on Sunday meant soulful yet funky sacred steel guitar music. Powerful and innovative, his solid musical grounding has moved him into an extensive game of musical chairs. Sitting in or touring with musicians such as Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule, The North Mississippi Allstars, Dumpstaphunk, Umphrey’s McGee- Yeah, I know you got it, he’s right down to the bone good!
Sportin’ a red tee with a large tye-dyed peace sign, Roosevelt C. along with Acoustic Syndicate’s Jay Sanders and “Tex the drummer;” wasted no time heating the room from the floor up for a funky dance party. Hard driven blues-based beats and juicy solo guitar licks took turns on the slide of the lap steel, offering an up-close and raw display of each musician’s individual talent. It’s clear to see that Roosevelt has a niche for understanding and leading other musicians on stage and what each player has to offer, proving his mastery at improvising; fitting into any genre and taking any song to another level. The voice he creates with his fingers- pickin’ and sliding his steel instruments enhances and elevates the mood of the crowd. I noticed people/friends getting down that I never see dancing. “There’s something about the feeling and spirit of the steel guitar that moves everybody” says Roosevelt. “It take everything up a notch because it has it’s own voice.”
As listed on the bill, we expected some special guests to join the trio on stage. Some of us locals had an idea that maestro Jon Scales from the ‘Jonathan Scales Fourchestra’ would be a local guest performer and we were right. The Asheville artist/composer brought and delivered a cool and jazzy edge to the mix with his steel pan drums. Also, offering a few soulful selections was an amazing female vocalist from Greenville,South Carolina Jamie Wright. Her voice added a smooth and warm compliment, without the need to scream or draw attention to it. At the end of the night, they invited us to move the dance party on stage to a very fine funky rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Very Superstitious” and George Clinton’s “We got the Funk.” The stage was packed with groovin’ bodies and dirty dippin’ hips, occasionally bumping into the player’s instruments, which only added to the dynamic jubilant steam engine that over heated the stage.
Even on a weeknight in a small venue, the Asheville music scene never disappoints and this show was a great example.