Over the years, Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival has presented many headliners who have brought the thunder, along with a never-ending supply of good times. Yet, never before has Shakori Hills GrassRoots brought a headliner who knew how to bring the party quite like Roosevelt Collier.
Roosevelt has become known as “The Dr.” and an artist at large who brings the sweet sounds of funk with him wherever he goes. His music warrants its own genre of “dirty funk swampy grime,” which is guaranteed to be the cure for whatever ails you.
You can come and groove with Roosevelt Friday, October 4 at 8:30 p.m. on the Meadow Stage. In the meantime, make sure to listen to his album Exit 16, which is available on all major streaming sites.
I chatted with Roosevelt for a couple of minutes on his drive through Florida to his next music destination about his beginnings, his records, and what he is bringing this year to Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival. What followed was a delightful conversation with a genuinely warm and bright individual.
How did you get started playing music?
I guess I was born with it. I was born into a family of music, y’know? Like everybody in my family played music, or went to see shows. I was born into the sound of music. I started playing through family and church.
Were you in the church choir or church band?
Yeah, all of that. Anything that dealt with church was me and my family. I was born and raised out of the church, so y’know all of my family played gospel music and sang in the choir and did all of that good stuff.
From there you also played with the Lee Boys for a while. What was that like?
That’s my family, y’know. That’s what I’m saying, we took what we were doing in church, and just moved it to the music scene. That was fun, it wasn’t nothing different except for us playing at the clubs and the festivals and the arts centers and all of that stuff. Man, that was a good time in my life just playing with my family.
I can’t even imagine how exciting it must’ve been to have that experience with the people you love.
It’s definitely like no other, y’know? You can’t find that bond nowhere else, just because it’s family.
Do you ever play together now?
Very rarely, they are busy and I’m busy so our timing is just not coming together right now.
So last year you came out with Exit 16, what was it like to record and produce that album?
Exit 16 came out under the great label, the GroundUP Label, which is spearheaded by Michael League from Snarky Puppy. Michael also helped to produce and write some of the tunes off of the record. And that was my first solo record, and the process was fully about learning how to make a record, and making some music.
I really want to thank that label and Michael League for just giving me a pair of wings, and just letting me explore my full potential as an artist, y’know? And that record did good! It was my first record and everybody loved it, and I’m so thankful and joyful.
It was a great task, and we all just went in and turned it out. I actually slept in the studio, I was knee deep in the process. We cut that record in about three days, going at about three tracks a day. We were in it. Bobby Sparks on the organ, JT Thomas on the drums, Michael League on bass, and me. And that’s it, man, that’s a wrap.
That sounds exhilarating to spend time in the studio and really turn this album out.
It was so fun! And I mean I guess, for me, I just wanted to be there. I didn’t want to get off track, so I stayed there late at night, woke up in the morning and got right back to it. It was a lot of fun, of course it’s tiresome too, there’s a lot going on with it, but the overall process is amazing and fun.
After finishing the album, you also went on tour with Michael League and the rest of Snarky Puppy. What was that like?
Oh, man! So I’m thankful for that. Michael League is huge on artists, he cares about artists more than anything in the world, which is very rare with a label, y’know? So they have this platform that allowed their artists to come in and open up for him and be a part of the tour.
Snarky Puppy, they are actually still on tour now, and all of the artists on the label, they give them face on the tour. They give us about 6-8 dates, and it was totally amazing. Every night big shows, big crowds, going on tour on a bus, and to be a part of that whole experience was amazing.
How did touring with Snarky Puppy compare to the Free Energy tour?
Those are two different tours. Me playing with Snarky was a great opportunity for me as their artist on the label to get exposure and just giving us a platform of letting our music be heard.
The Free Energy Tour, it’s a big co-billed tour. I went with another Florida band called the Heavy Pets, we’re friends. And we always talked about doing a tour together, so we decided ‘Let’s just do a co-billed tour together, and let’s name it this, and look to really go out and spread love.’ That’s why you have the Free Energy Tour. That tour there is a great thing, and those guys are a great Florida-based band, the Heavy Pets. We just gotta make sure there’s good music from the great state of Florida.
So you describe your music as ‘dirty funk swampy grime’, how would you describe that?
Y’know my music has been labeled just about everything. And I’m from the south, I’m from Florida, we are from the swamp. We get down and dirty. It’s more like my roots mixed with a lot of southern rock and blues and funk. So to an extent, you’ve got a swampy, dirty blues comin’ to you.
Your music has also been nominated for a couple of honors, starting with you being featured as an artist at this year’s WOMEX (The World Music Expo) in Finland.
Yes! I’m honored to be able to play WOMEX in October, y’know that’s a very big showcase, that’s one of the world’s biggest showcases. So I’m thankful and glad for that, and I mean I wasn’t expecting it at all, but this opportunity came so I’ve gotta take it, y’know? I am definitely ready for it.
You also were nominated by the 2019 UK Jazz FM Award for Blues Artist of the Year, what was that like?
Man, that was a pretty wild experience too. Just to be nominated for it is great, I wasn’t expecting it at all, not at all. And that helped me out a little bit there too, so man I’m forever thankful for London.
So going forward, what can we expect from your future music?
We are definitely working on another album, that’s definitely in the mix, and we’re gonna look for the next year to tour real heavy.
I’m already up in the studio working on it, it’s almost halfway done now. This one is definitely different. Where Exit 16 was the story of my life, [it] told the story of who I am, where I’m from, and where I’m going. So this record is gonna be one chapter of my life, which is more of the bluesy swampy stuff. Just because I’m a part of so many genres.
So, at Shakori Hills this year, what can fans expect from you?
Alright, Shakori Hills listen. Y’all better come ready to get down. They know that Rosie don’t play no radio baby. It is going down as soon as we hit the stage, so please come expecting to dance and party.