Roosevelt Collier's "Colorado Get Down" Feat. Members of The Motet 2.19 - 2.21.15

Words By J. Picard

It's been about a year since Roosevelt Collier's first run of shows in Colorado with members of The Motet, known as "Colorado Get Down." Following a handful of very successful plays on the Front Range, it was time to take the show to the mountains. I began reaching out to the limited options of venues and was thrilled with the responses! The decision ended up being a Thursday night in Denver at The 1up - Colfax, Friday at Shakedown Bar in Vail and Saturday at The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco! Leading up to the run there were a ton of logistics to sort out and nail down. By the time Roosevelt touched down in Colorado, anticipation for the shows was through the roof...

Thursday February 19, 2015:

The 1up - Colfax
Denver, CO

Photos By Jim Mimna (J. Mimna Photography)

Roosevelt landed mid-afternoon and went straight to The 1up - Colfax in Denver, CO where "Colorado Get Down" would be joined by Bill Nershi (The String Cheese Incident) and openers, The Sweet Lillies, for an evening of music! Joey Porter (Keys), Garrett Sayers (Bass) and Dave Watts (Drums), set up their gear for the first of three nights. A short time later Bill Nershi arrived with his electric guitar in tow. The mood was light and upon Roosevelt's late arrival due to a delayed flight and extensive traffic, the mood became celebratory, then focused for soundcheck and rehearsal. The group never skipped a beat from their previous play at YarmonyGrass in August. Bill tossed a couple of songs into the mix including The String Cheese Incident's "Outside And Inside!" Following soundcheck, Rosie and I went to dinner with my good friends, Murray and Spuckes. Back at the venue Colorado band, The Sweet Lillies, took the stage to a sizable crowd. The four piece output some fantastic folk, bluegrass and jam that had the crowd dancing and singing to classic material from bands like The Grateful Dead. The music was well done, the vocals sweet and harmonies beautiful, for the duration of the band's set. Upon their conclusion, the crowd wanted more!

Backstage Roosevelt wrote out setlists while the band prepared for what was shaping up to be a sold out show. House Photographer, Jim Mimna, captured the subtle moments prior to the band taking the stage, with the eye of a genius and execution of a wizard. With just minutes before go time, Jim gathered the band for a few group shots. With the clock ticking past the 11:00 PM hour, the band headed to the stage to the delight of the packed house! After some fiddling with his amp and cables, Roosevelt jumped into some heavy slide while his band followed suit with instant peaks. The pedal steel screamed while the crowd went nuts and the lights flashed at the hands of Tiberius Benson.

"Wow, is this the encore? - Bill Nershi

Bill looked at me with a big smile, knowing full well that it was the first song. Though it was a church jam, it sounded more like the devil's Rock & Roll, with the drum and bass thumping heavily while Rosie pressed on through an extensive intro. The jam ensued with the energy of an encore as Bill had suggested. Joey's keys rang out from the far side of the stage backing Roosevelt's aggressive output. The composition quieted down briefly, only to climb back towards insane shredding before it's abrupt stop. The capacity crowd responded with great appreciation. Roosevelt gave a shout out to The Sweet Lillies before jumping into an original, "Velvet," that featured his steel for the start before he passed it to Garrett for some low end action, then on to Dave for some punches on the drums. Some wailing at the end from Roosevelt combined with Joey chopping away on the keys and folks woooing to the conclusion. Band intros were followed by a straightforward drum beat that lead into The Temptations' "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" with Rosie nailing some really interesting notes in a sort of call and response fashion with the band. Roosevelt threw down before Joey stepped up with some bending notion.

"So, some announcements, some announcements. First of all, how are you all doing out there? I see like a lot of my friends and stuff out here. So in June, yours truly, along with these great guys, will be playing LOHI Music Fest! Just announced. Is anybody going to LOHI? You'd better buy your god damn tickets (laughs)!" - Roosevelt Collier

Roosevelt then called Gabe Mervine (The Motet) to the stage for some trumpet. Gabe entered the stage to minor applause, triggering Rosie to send him backstage and run it back. Upon the second intro, the crowd errupted. Roosevelt also called Cody Russell (The Drunken Hearts) to the stage for some added steel. He nervously made his way up and rightfully so, as he would be playing alongside one of his favorites to a packed house. The following track was soulful and somewhat laid back as the guests were establishing their space and roles on the stage. Gabe took off first nailing it with bright instrumentation and fantastic tone. Cody stepped up next throwing down some impressive slide that reflected a much different background and approach than Roosevelt's. The crowd cheered before focus shifted to Joey as the song wound down. As Gabe and Cody began to wonder off stage, Roosevelt told them not to go anywhere and called Emily Clark to the stage for added vocals, as well as Cliff Porter from the Reno, NV band, Jelly Bread. Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" followed to close the first set of the evening with some impressive output from the guest vocalists. At one point Cliff went back and forth with Rosie, connecting the dots for many on the similarities between steel and vocals. Gabe took another big solo prior to Roosevelt passing it on to Cody, for a eerie resonating solo that added a cool vibe to the song. The song returned to the main riff and came to a close with the crowd cheering wildly.

"Congratulations on a sell out Mr. Collier," I said to Rosie with a smile.

"You're kidding me, man. Don't mess around," Roosevelt said naievely.

"Great work, man," I said holding out my hand, to which Rosie shook with a huge smile from ear to ear.

The band returned to the stage a short time later with the evening's special guest, Bill Nershi, featured on Otis Rush's "All Your Love." Billy handled vocals before taking on some funk riffs. Roosevelt stepped up and passed it back to Bill for his first solo of the evening. The crowd loved it and from there, Roosevelt jumped right into a jam with his cast of super heroes following suit. Joey chopped away with clavinet tones with Rosie outputting descending notation in conjunction with Bill. Bill took off again with a strong solo before the band dropped back in,steering the jam back towards the main riff, peaking a couple of times before the song's close. The String Cheese Incident's "Out And Inside" came next with Billy in the captain's seat. The song had a very raw flavor from the packaged version the fans are used to. The packed room danced wildly as Roosevelt jumped in following Bill's opening verse. Rosie passed it to Joey before Bill's ripping return. The song was a highlight on paper, though didn't completely translate live.

Rosie called Gabe back to the stage before filling in the crowd on the rest of the weekend's shows. Joey and Dave kicked off the groove and Gabe jumped right into the mix leading the charge with an afrobeat vibe. Billy jumped in with a resonating tone as Roosevelt smiled and tossed chords at Billy while he noodled. Gabe dropped a big solo and Dave steered the song towards its close with a drum solo that built and built with subtle beauty. "More Bounce To The Ounce" came next after a shoutout to the ladies from Roosevelt on Joey's behalf, and some added talkbox. One more round of band intros and the second set came to a close. The packed house roared as the band exited the stage. A short time later Roosevelt returned to the stage with Jelly Bread in tow. It was a confusing moment, with Bill and members of The Motet remaining backstage and people in the crowd yelling for Billy. Ray Charles' "I've Got A Woman" was the choice to close the evening. Jelly Bread nailed it across the board, which made me feel better about the swapping of bands. A short time later the final notes were played and the band exited the stage, aside from Roosevelt who remained to talk to fans, take pictures and give thanks to those who were so grateful.

Back stage the party continued following Roosevelt's first sold out show at The 1up - Colfax! Musicians posed for photos with one another, drank an assortment of alcohol and wound down from the first of three nights of shows. I glanced down at my phone, which I had been checking all night, to gauge the weather situation, which was supposed to take a turn for the worse the following morning/afternoon. Venue Manager, Bobby Jones, arranged for ground transport while Hospitality Manager, Eric Fletcher, changed the marquee for the venue's upcoming shows. As Roosevelt's transport arrived, we sent him off and headed off ourselves into the cold Denver night.

Jim's Photo Gallery

Friday February 20, 2015:

Shakedown Bar
Vail, CO

Photos By J. Picard
Video By Carly Marthis

We awoke feeling groggy following a late night. I swung by The Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver to pick up Roosevelt and headed over to Tom's Home Cooking in the Five Points neighborhood for lunch with my team; Jourdan Adler, Woody Adler and Craig Bailey. We left Tom's stuffed and ready to take on what could have been a treacherous ride to Frisco, then on to Vail. We picked up Carly and made our way to I-70 as the snow began to fall. As we approached Georgetown, traffic began to slow, eventually coming to a halt. The emergency alert signs flashed "I-70 Closed Georgetown - Silverthorne." We could see the accident just up ahead until the snow was whiteout. Emergency vehicles flew by us on the shoulder of the road towards the wreck. I made a call to the other members of Rosie's band, who were waiting on I-70 to re-open before departing the Front Range. Then I made the call to Scott Rednor, the owner of Shakedown Bar, to alert him to our situation. He seemed calm and ready to jump into action if members of The Motet didn't make it up the mountain. An hour passed, two hours passed and finally traffic began to move. Just as we passed the site of the accident, the emergency signs flashed "I-70 Closed To Silverthorne" as traffic slowed once again to a crawl. We sat for another ten minutes and we were off, climbing up snow-covered roads at a slow, cautious pace. We made a quick call to the remainder of the band, who loaded up and headed out.

We arrived in Frisco as darkness fell, checked into our hotels, took a breather and then returned to our car to continue on to the venue. We reached the top of the Vail Pass, at an elevation of 10,603 feet, before descending into Vail, where the town lights were glimmering through falling snow. We arrived at the front door of Shakedown Bar where we snapped a shot of Rosie, so that fans knew he had arrived, then we loaded in the minimal gear that we needed for the evening's show. We parked the car and wandered through the Vail Village which may as well have been the Swiss Alps. We stopped for pizza, touching base with the guys who were passing Frisco and approaching their destination through hours of white knuckle driving. Back at the venue we were greeted by Scott, Rob Eaton Jr. (The Drunken Hearts) and a very friendly staff. The rest of the band arrived and began to setup as the intimate downstairs venue began to fill in. By the time the show started, the venue was approaching capacity!

Carly and I found a table on the far side of the room with a great vantage point, as the show kicked off. People were there to party and got down hard from the get go. Rob came over to where we were standing and communicated to me that he had been practicing heavily in anticipation of a sit-in. At the door of the venue, it was one in, one out, meaning the show was technically sold out. A short time later, Rob was called to the stage on Lenny Kravitz's "Fly Away." Roosevelt took the first solo with sliding precision, mocking the vocal lines and screaming on the pedal steel. Roosevelt passed it to Rob who absolutely shredded with perfect tone and clear understanding of his instrument. Roosevelt glanced over at me and smiled, then back at Rob with a terrified face, as he was swinging for the fence. Rosie threw a hand in the air to the music as Rob didn't let up, just crushing it. The hair on my arms stood straight up and I smiled. Upon the conclusion of Rob's solo, the mountain venue errupted. I had tears in my eyes and hoped that no one had noticed.

Roosevelt dropped a quick lick, Garrett followed suit, then it was off to Rob and back to Rosie. This continued for a couple of minutes. Each line better than the one before it, the trio passed the music around like a hot potato that kept getting hotter and hotter. It was at this point that a single tear fell from my face. As I wiped it, I glanced to my left and Rednor was shaking his head at me. The music built up until everyone on stage peaked and peaked. The crowd jumped and threw their hands in the air up until the conclusion of the song. The vibe was everything I could have hoped for and more, and we still had another set of music. As there is no greenroom at Shakedown Bar, the band wandered through the crowd, mingling with fans and sharing in conversation for the duration of the break, while I monitored the weather situation.

The band returned to the stage for the second set, with the crowd amped and ready for more. I glanced over at Scott who was sitting on the side of the stage and motioned to him to see if he would be sitting in and he shrugged. The band jumped into Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," with Rob on guitar. As Rosie dipped into the signature vocal phrasing on the steel, the crowd sang along and danced uncontrollably. The band ripped, smiling as they did so. It was at this point that I realized that the band sounded the tightest and best that they have sounded to date. The band took it down low and began to build with punches. Rob took off, tearing through an incredible solo that once again had Roosevelt smiling. For the next song, Roosevelt called Scott to the stage for guitar and vocal duty on Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" and Steve Wonder's "I Wish." His vocals were impressive, as was his playing. I smiled and looked around at a room full of skiers getting down to a rare treat of a band, with the owner of the club joining in on the action!

As the evening wound down, the band threw down their last couple of contributions to the evening. It was fantastic to see the band having so much fun. I was so grateful to be in that place getting down with a handful of folks that we knew, and so many folks celebrating life! With the show's conclusion the crowd showed great appreciation and then continued to party hard to the house music, even creating a circle while drunk folks spun around on the beer soaked floor. Little by little, the 200 person bar began to empty out as we packed up our gear and thanked both "Shrednor" and Jr. for their hospitality, before ascending the Vail Pass and descending down into Frisco. We separated two by two into three vehicles and made the sketchy journey down towards our hotel at a speed of about 25 miles an hour. Upon our arrival we exhaled and settled in for the night.

Saturday February 21, 2015:

The Barkley Ballroom
Frisco, CO

Photos By Jesse Filippelli (Filippelli Photos)

We awoke in Frisco to a gorgeous view of the mountains. Some stretching and a big breakfast were in order before swinging by the venue for a quick promotional picture. Back at the hotel Rosie rested up for the evening's show while Carly and I soaked in the hot tub while small snowflakes fell from gray skies. Around 6:00 PM we loaded in at the venue and set-up for a brief soundcheck. In the greenroom, Roosevelt and I located some oxygen to assist in the acclimation process. But as we weren't having any issues, we posed for a picture without even tapping into the tanks. From the venue we headed to a brewery for some dinner and drinks. A quick stop at the hotel and we were on our way back to The Barkley Ballroom for the show. Upon our arrival we heard stories of the opening band swinging around double-ended dildos and tucking themselves on stage. We were thankful to have missed that, though I found humor in the notion of a band of that nature opening for a project like "Colorado Get Down." The thought was delightfully awkward.

Around 11:00 PM "Colorado Get Down" took the stage for their last show of the run. The room filled in slowly, as the effect of WinterWonderGrass in Avon, CO could be seen. A short time later, the venue filled in nicely, squashing my notion of the WWG effect. Venue owners, Todd Altschuler and Keegan Casey, were very gracious hosts and seemed excited about the musical experience that was about to unfold. As the show started, Carly and I hung towards the back of the room, winding down from a weekend of shows. As was the case with the previous shows, the crowd was receptive and danced along with the music. Roosevelt seemed loose that night, playing off of the crowd and laughing as people up front danced wildly. The band took a brief set break and returned a short time later for the second set of the evening.

The songs that were played were fuzzy to me, as all three shows on the run started to blend together, through repeats, bustouts and jams. Carly and I relocated to the back/side of the stage where we could get a great vantage point of the chemistry and interplay on stage. Additionally we checked on the band, refilling empty cups and ordering additional drinks. The half-packed venue was buzzing as hippies and mountain folks dance with their eyes closed and minds open. Joey leaned into some talkbox at the end of the set, triggering one last dance party before the encore. Upon the show's conclusion the venue began to clear out, outside of the few stragglers that wanted a word with the evening's talent. We settled up for the final night and I thanked Joey, Garrett and Dave for their involvement and playing. We loaded out into the bitter cold and returned to the hotel for a few hours of sleep before our early awakening and departure.

Jesse's Photo Gallery

Sunday February 22, 2015:

We awoke with the sun, quickly packed our suitcases, loaded up the Jeep, hit a Starbucks and we were back on the road towards Denver. Though the roads looked menacing on our decent, the Jeep handled well in four wheel drive. It wasn't until we hit the foothills and dropped into Denver that we hit black ice and fishtaled a couple of times, triggering a crawl to the airport. We made a pit stop for McDonald's breakfast and headed down Pena Blvd. to Denver International Airport. We said our goodbyes to Rosie, who we would see a week later for his return to Colorado with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. Off Rosie went to re-join Karl Denson in Missoula, MT, while we headed home to our bed. The three night run of shows was a fantastic success with two shows selling out and the third hosting a great crowd. Roosevelt and I began to plot his return immediately, to a market that shows more support than any other in the country, making it Rosie's unofficial home away from home.


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