“Sacred Steel” master Roosevelt Collier, affectionately nicknamed “The Dr.”, is a wonder to witness performing live. For years, he’s been lending his signature slide sound to a variety of projects and winning over crowds through his electrifying live performances, but today, Collier is excited to enter a new chapter in his career with the coming release of his debut solo album, Exit 16, set for release on Michael League‘s (Snarky Puppy) GroundUP Music on March 9th. The album is a potent mix of blues, gospel, rock and, in Roosevelt’s words, “dirty funk swampy grime,” as overseen by League, the album’s producer and a member of the studio band.
It’s also a brilliant reflection of Collier’s life–all of it. Brought up in the House of God Church in Perrine, FL, Collier built his steel guitar prowess alongside his uncles and cousins in The Lee Boys, known for their spirited, soul-shaking live performances. On his own, Collier’s become a sought-after talent both on record and on stage, performing alongside musical luminaries in the fields of rock, blues and pop, including the Allman Brothers, The String Cheese Incident, Buddy Guy, Umphrey’s McGee, Los Lobos, Robert Randolph, the Tedeschi-Trucks Band, and the Del McCoury Band, among countless others.
Exit 16 was recorded over three days of marathon sessions by League and a bevy of talented sidemen, including JT Thomas on drums and Bobby Sparks on organ. “You gotta be able to trust your bandmates, and Mike knew the right guys and knows what I’m about,” says Collier. “This could have been a star-studded thing. But that would have overshadowed what we wanted to do here.”
Michael League was instrumental in getting Collier to create his own album after decades as a music scene stalwart. As he beams, “Roosevelt channels something spiritual.”
“He’s a reason I’m talking about this now,” says Collier about League’s contributions to the project. “I’ve had offers to make my own music before. But when Mike came along, it just felt right.” He continues, “Exit 16 is a record about me,” says Roosevelt Collier. “It’s telling a story of who I am, where I’m from, and where I’m going.” In the end, Exit 16 might serve as a beautiful summation of Collier’s life. But the guitarist thinks his album — and all of his music — also serves a higher purpose.
What Collier aimed to do was encapsulate all of his influences and experiences. “I’m rooted in a lot of genres, so I’ve never really had a focus or to buckle down,” he says, laughing. So on Exit 16 you’ll find an infectious, sunny track like “Happy Feet” sitting happily nearby “Spike,” wherein Collier shreds with the spirit of Jimi Hendrix. “I actually think a song like ‘Spike’ is about my future,” says the guitarist. “My goal there was to see how we can expand this guitar, this steel.” Reflecting on his early days, “’Sun Up Sun Down’ and ‘Supernatural’ feel like joyous, spiritual workouts. Says Collier of the album, “This record is a gateway to my mission in life, which is to touch and heal people through music! That’s always been my mission, whether it’s in the church or in a club. I think people feel better about themselves after I play. That’s powerful, my man! I’ve been blessed to have that going for me. That’s my gift.”
And then there’s the title track, which Collier refers to as “dump truck funk.” As he explains,: “That’s the old do-not-enter gate type of funk—it’s dangerous! Beware of dogs out there.” Today, Live For Live Music is proud to premiere the title track from Roosevelt Collier’s upcoming solo debut, Exit 16 via this live performance video featuring Michael League and more. Enjoy!:
Watch the video for “Exit 16” below via groundUPmusicNYC‘s YouTube page:
Hopefully, you’ll get a chance to see Collier on tour later this year in support of Exit 16—that is, if he’s not too busy going with the world music ensemble Bokanté (also with League) or his own Roosevelt Collier Trio “Jimi Meets Funk” Hendrix tribute. You can actually look at those two groups and envision Collier’s future: It was the guitarist’s work with Bokanté that won him early acclaim in Europe (along with an international agent), and the recognition of Collier’s musical prowess across the Atlantic charts a similar path to success to the one Hendrix traveled years ago.
But Collier’s certainly excited to play his new music live, in any shape or form. “If I can snatch Mike for a tour for this album—well, if Mike can, he will,” says Collier, laughing. “But I’d also be excited to get some of my hometown, South Florida guys to do this with me. It’s my first record, so it’s a big thing there. I mean, it’s why I call this Exit 16—that’s literally where I’m from, off the turnpike.”
You can see a full list of Roosevelt Collier’s upcoming tour dates below (more TBA). For more information, or to purchase tickets to any of the shows, head to Roosevelt’s website.
Exit 16 will be available to buy/stream on March 9th. To pre-order the album, head here.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
Feb 10 – Miami Beach, FL – GroundUP Music Festival
Feb 22 – Richmond, VA – The National*
Feb 23 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club*
Feb 24 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club*
Feb 28 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln Theatre*
Mar 1 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel*
Mar 2 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse*
Mar 3 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse*
Mar 7 – Akron, OH – Goodyear Theater*
Mar 8 – Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak Music Theater*
Mar 9 – Chicago, IL – Vic Theatre*
* w/ Railroad Earth