Roosevelt Collier's "Colorado Get Down" 11.21 & 11.22.14

The 1up - Colfax
Denver, CO

Words By J. Picard
Photos By Jim Mimna (J. Mimna Photography)

What would happen if a hand picked band consisting of members of The Allman Brothers, The Infamous Stringdusters, Big Gigantic, Leftover Salmon and more got together for two nights in an arcade? What would the mix of blues, jazz, bluegrass, funk and electronic music sound like? The first "Colorado Get Down" came in the form of three nights on the Front Range with Members of The Motet, Leftover Salmon, Big Gigantic, Lettuce, Soulive and Pretty Lights turning out to throw down. Its elevated reception made way for the project's triumphant return for YarmonyGrass. For round three the line-up was mixed up a bit and the focus became two nights in Denver, CO. For weeks, fans awaited the return of Roosevelt Collier's "Colorado Get Down" and with all of the logistics and loose ends tied up, time ticked by slowly until Thursday, November 20th came. The first to arrive was my friend Murray from New Jersey, followed by Roosevelt from Miami, then my brother (Brandon) and my friends (Matt and Teri) from Michigan. That evening our group headed for a team dinner at Mongolian BBQ, when I received word that my favorite bass player had landed in Denver. Following our dinner, Roosevelt, Murray and I headed to Oteil Burbridge's (Allman Brothers Band) hotel room to welcome him to Colorado. A short time later we were headed home to rest up for what would be a huge weekend. I all but pinched myself. This was really happening.

Friday, November 21:

I drank cup after cup of coffee, smoking cannabis at an alarming rate to jumpstart my morning, as I had barely slept in the days leading up to the weekend. Sometime around 1:00 PM, members of the band started to arrive at the arcade at the center of the universe. It was interesting to see everyone meet and get acquainted with one another. The level of excitement in the air was palpable. A short time later, with everything in its right place, The 1up's audio team ran through soundcheck and rehearsal began. I stood alone in the middle of the room and from left to right I found myself staring back at Chris Pandolfi (The Infamous Stringdusters), Andy Hall (The Infamous Stringdusters), special guest Andy Thorn (Leftover Salmon), Roosevelt (The Lee Boys), Oteil and Jeremy Salken (Big Gigantic). As they began to jam, I was overcome with emotion and the realization that this was why I do what I do. With the rehearsal in progress, I took to social media which was flooded with talk of the evening's show. Pre-sales were through the roof, the band sounded incredible, the staff was ready and the venue looked clean and sleek as it always does.

The 9:00 PM hour rolled around and the venue was already starting to fill in. The Jaden Carlson Band kicked off the weekend with an hour and fifteen minutes of in your face musical madness. As seems to always be the case during JCB sets, folks conversed, then passed along to the person standing next to them, the fact that Jaden was only thirteen years old. In a short conversation that I had with someone, I mentioned that she was "a ripping guitarist that happened to be thirteen, as opposed to a thirteen year old guitarist, as it is not her age that defines her musically." During the band's impressive set they welcomed Jeremy and Oteil to the stage to participate. JCB's chemistry, which flowed between Jaden, Eric Luba and Will Trask, reflected a band well rehearsed and maturing at a rapid rate. Their songs and music have grown into refined masterpieces and by the set's conclusion, the place was packed.

Roosevelt and I headed down to The Ogden Theatre where we were greeted at the backstage entrance in the ally by the road manager of The Southern Soul Assembly tour which consisted of JJ Grey, Luther Dickenson, Anders Osborne and Marc Broussard with special guest Todd Smallie. The vibe was odd as the room was packed, yet the band was seated and playing acoustic. Following a handful of songs they called Roosevelt to the stage where he had it out with Luther to the delight of the capacity crowd. The sit in really elevated the energy and with a plug for our show dropped, we were on our way back to The 1up with Murray who had joined us. Upon our arrival back at that venue, we found a line at the box office and a quickly filling arcade.

Backstage the troops were assembled for an all out musical assualt that would raise the bar for "super jams" in the market. With smiles abound and the crowd demanding what they paid for and more, Roosevelt and Jeremy took the stage to get things started with a slide and drum jam. A short time later Rosie called the remaining members to the stage before jumping into The Temptations' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." Roosevelt took on a Hendrix style with percussive strikes on the slide and ripping instrumentation, before Chris took over on the electric banjo and Andy followed suit.

"This song is going to be featuring everybody on stage. That's what every song is going to be doing..." -Roosevelt Collier

The following song kicked off with Oteil and Jeremy establishing the rhythm before Rosie jumped in taking the jam through several different parts and ultimately shredding back and forth with Andy until the drum and bass punch entered the picture with heavy force. Chris riffed hard in three finger fashion as the composition plateaued and turned towards its conclusion. Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" featured Oteil on vocals before massive ripping from the slide section ensued. The music returned to the melody and concluded with Roosevelt noodling far beyond the song's end. Band intros came next and Rosie called vocalist Emily Clark to the stage to sing what sounded like an improvisational number. Rosie then quieted the music and called Jaden Carlson to the stage to the delight of the packed room. Jaden built up and tore down an incredible solo, before Emily stepped back up and passed the ball to Oteil who captivated the room with his skat bass solo.

With one last song remaining in the set Roosevelt brought Andy Thorn to the stage for some added banjo. Roosevelt plugged the following day's slide guitar workshop with Andy Hall, as well as the following night's show with special guest, Dominic Lalli (Big Gigantic), before jumping into Johnny Cash's "Big River." Thorn turned it up immediately with insane banjo work and a fast paced modal approach. Andy Hall fielded the vocals prior to the group passing around the solos once again. Andy Hall threw it to Chris who ripped it up before passing it back to Andy for the verse and off to Roosevelt to get after it. The whole time Jeremy and Oteil were all over the place while keeping the groove very tight from beginning to end. With the first set of the weekend in the books, the assembled band headed backstage where there was no shortage of smiles and high fives.

The second set began with Roosevelt and Andy Hall performing a slide duo of "Rueben's Train," a song that they played together last June for an instructional video and a song that helped spark the idea of a slide workshop at The 1up. The composition was beautifully executed with the trading off of the rhythm and melody back and forth. The next couple of tunes to follow were songs that Roosevelt and Andy Thorn wrote during the time of the first "Colorado Get Down" last May for their Second Story Garage studio session. They began with "Skunk Mountain" and matching melodies that opened up to the full band. Andy Thorn took off taking the banjo to soaring heights before returning to the signature lick. Another passing around of solos lead to the song's end. The following number titled "Fiddling Around," began with a sort of Celtic sound, then opened up to a bonanza of slide before Oteil took over once again, turning heads while matching each tone vocally as he hit it on the bass. The song wound down beautifully with harmonizing melodies. Then to everyone's surprise, Roosevelt called Luther Dickenson (North Mississippi Allstars) to the stage, as well as Emily. What followed was a barrage of guitar that only slowed down to make room for Emily's vocals that were clean and soulful. Where as Luther's sit in was only going to be one song, Rosie demanded an additional in Jeff Beck's "Going Down." Andy Hall fielded the vocals as Chris jumped into a solo that was chased by guitars from every direction. It was pure madness.

After introducing the band, they remained on stage for their encore which came in the form of "Altitude Sickness," another song that Rosie and Andy Thorn created for their Second Story Garage session. The song took off quickly featuring the composers of the track tearing through notes at a wild rate. Rosie slowed down the jam, told everyone to return tomorrow and thanked The 1up as the song came to a close ending a truly incredible first of two nights. The crowd erupted with joy as the band exited the stage. Without any thought or attention to anything else going on around him, Roosevelt went straight to the Galaga machine to jump into a couple of rounds before even looking up. The greenroom turned into a celebratory scene, with the focus shifting from nailing the notes to consuming some beers and unwinding with friends. The party wound down and Rosie and Oteil departed in their towncar to the hotel. We had a full Saturday ahead of us and we were already partially into the day and losing hours of potential sleep.

Saturday, November 22:

My alarm sounded at 7:00 AM, a mere three hours after my head hit the pillow. I began to loathe Roosevelt and Andy Hall for choosing to conduct their slide workshop at 11:00 AM. I consumed as many burritos, cups of coffee and as much cannabis as possible before picking up a bunch of folding chairs and heading to The 1up with Roosevelt and Carly. A short time later Andy arrived and we set up the room for the workshop. Folks began to arrive at The 1up with their dobros, lap steels, pedal steels and amps for an educational session that would last three hours and cover a ton of slide material. I glanced around the room as Rosie and Andy spoke about their history with the music and I saw members from a handful of Colorado bands ranging from Lotus to Caribou Mountain Collective to Genetics, all soaking in the knowledge. Roosevelt and Andy discussed technique, approach, went through a bunch of exercises and walked around assisting in individual focus. During a short break, while folks got water and used the restrooms, Rosie and Andy played a few participants' instruments and jammed with attendees before returning to the second half of the lesson. The duo ran through riffs that increased in speed with the group following suit. As the session wound down, Oteil and Chris came through the door from Chris giving OPteil banjo lessons, just in time to catch the group jamming and passing around solos. The session ended with participants taking pictures with the musicians, networking with one another and collecting their gear. Ultimately, the workshop sold out and was a huge success for the educational music community and all involved!

An afternoon of recovery translated to evening as the sun set over the mountains on the second night of the "Colorado Get Down." Pre-sales hit a record for any previous Roosevelt Collier show to date eluding to the fact that it would be an incredible evening with a packed house! Fan favorites, The Drunken Hearts, kicked off the evening early with a sizable crowd! This play would mark their first since the passing of their drummer, Ted Welles. Fans came out early to show their support through what would be an incredible and emotional set. During their performance they welcomed Chris on the banjo and truly dazzled the room with their fantastic songwriting and well packaged delivery. Towards the middle of their set, the venue began to fill quickly and by the end, they were playing to a crowd of several hundred smiling faces.

Backstage, the members of "Colorado get Down" posed for a photo shoot and prepared their weapons for battle. The show began with Oteil and Jeremy digging into a nasty groove that reflected the intention of the "Get Down" to get down. Roosevelt followed suit leaning into some nasty instrumentation and Oteil dropped bass bombs over the shred. Rosie called the remainder of the band to the stage to continue the battle, riffing again on "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" that featured some incredible output from Oteil and Jeremy. A quick round of introductions of Roosevelt's "super heroes" and some love for Colorado lead to the next track that featured some cool parts from Andy and Chris. Then, as it happened prior, it happened again. Oteil took over in epic fashion, tearing up the bass and skatting along with the outpouring of notes. The hair stood up on my arms and a tear rolled down my check. That moment for me was so euphoric and blissful and yet the night was young.

"So I am going to say this... Colorado has the best music scene." -Roosevelt Collier

As they had done the previous night, the band jumped into "Skunk Mountain," however, without one of the song's composers, Andy Thorn, the song felt a little more hollow. A quick shoutout to Roosevelt from Chris triggered a large cheer from the crowd and the band continued with Jeremy, Oteil and Chris laying down a solid foundation on Maxine Nightingale's "Get Back to Where We Started From" before the slide moved in. Chris dove into a killer solo that lead into the band peaking hard and the song's conclusion. LaDamian Massey was called to the stage to sing, as well as Jaden to play some guitar, on Steve Wonder's "Higher Ground." LaDamion's strong vocals provided the perfect touch to the music that had the packed house moving. The band took the music down low and the slides went back and forth building up the energy at an alarming rate before LaDamion steered the song towards its close and set break.

Backstage the vibe was festive, yet focused on a quick turn around to maximize stage time. The second set began with Roosevelt and Andy noodling before going into "You Are My Sunshine" that felt like an interlude. The jam took a sort of dark turn towards "Rueben's Train" once again. Night two's version provided an extra dose of exploration as the two alternated parts for about eight minutes. Roosevelt called the rest of the band to the stage, including the evening's special guest, Dominic Lalli. The jam started loosely with everyone adding a little something to the mix before Dom took a big solo that built up the energy quickly. Chris jumped in on the banjo and took it even higher before the band dropped back in the song's main riff and eventual close.

Oteil kicked off the next track with prominent notation. The rest of the band were right behind and the vibe got a lot funkier with sax in the mix. The mid-section of the song got loose and opened up in perfect improvisational fashion and strong interplay from Oteil and Dom. The next jam continued with the same energy and pocket as the room swayed and grooved. The bass punched alongside of the drums as the guitars swung back with staggering force. The jam built and built before coming to an abrupt stop with the crowd going wild. Jeremy took off on the drums with Oteil right behind him as the vibe got a little jazzy before returning to the funk. I found myself fixated on Oteil who was all over the neck of the bass, pumping out some incredible low end with ease. Rosie called LaDamion back to the stage for Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious," with Rob Eaton Jr. (The Drunken Hearts) and Oteil passing it back and forth. The vibe inside of The 1up was peaking as the instrumentation soared. Dom took a solo and Rosie jumped back on the mic for one last round of band intros. Then out of nowhere, Rosie had the band take it down low and he called me to the stage. I stepped out for a quick wave and bow before ducking backstage. The song built right back up and came to a close. The band exited the stage and returned a short time later to jump into "Big River," with Andy on vocals. The music picked up once more to close the incredible weekend of music.

The party was in full swing backstage as the new group of friends and "bandmates" shared one last little bit of time together. As I looked around the room I took a deep breath and was overcome with gratitude. I was so grateful for all of the musicians that participated and made the weekend one of my favorites to date. I was so thankful for my team, from The 1up staff, to Carly and my friends who traveled from around the country to join. Lastly, to the fans who turned out to support the music and make it possible for us to bring some of our musical heroes to The 1up - Colfax stage, thank you. Rosie came up and gave me a big hug and we thanked each other for the experience and began to discuss the next round of the "Get Down." Slowly folks began to wander off. We said our goodbyes, snapped some pictures and I escorted Roosevelt and Oteil to their towncar. Off they rode into the darkness as we headed in the other direction for some much needed sleep and recovery. I awoke Sunday morning to realize that the weekend wasn't a dream. This is the life we live...

Jim's Night One Photo Gallery

Jim's Night Two Photo Gallery


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