ALBUM REVIEW: Roosevelt Collier's Exit 16

Words by Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot)

Roosevelt Collier’s recently released Exit 16 is more than just something you should listen to. Respect it. Love it. Listen to it really loud. Definitely repeat Track 3, “Make It Alright” because Bobby Sparks completely destroys his keyboard solo. Make sure you have room to move your feet when The Dr. Roosevelt Collier brings the heat with his slide magic on “Supernatural Encounters.” And do not hesitate to call League a funky white boy when “That Could’ve Been Bad” and League’s heavy bass bombs come blasting through your speaker system. I personally requested to review this album because of how awesome I knew it could be and Rosie absolutely crushed it.

Produced (and contributed to) by bassist Michael League of the three time Grammy Award Winning Snarky Puppy and released on their GroundUp Music label, Exit 16 has numerous genres incorporated with Roosevelt’s mastery of the pedal steel guitar giving any listener a wide range of reasons to love this album. Beginning with Collier’s well-known church playing background, the initial track “Sun up Sun Down” has a definitive organ-led undertone with Bobby Sparks again proving why he was a great addition to this recording. “Happy Feet” brings the mighty Jason Thomas into the forefront, showing off his drumming skills that have made him a major contributor to Snarky Puppy, Marcus Miller, and many other celebrated jazz/soul musicians. “Exit 16,” the title track and album namesake is a rowdy steel pedal guitar shred-fest with Thomas plus Sparks again backing up Collier with funky pocket grooves and high-pitched organ chords. But, if I were to pick a favorite track off of this awesome first album (and hopefully not the last) from The Dr. Roosevelt Collier it would have to be the Jimi Hendrix infused head-banger “Spike.”

Rosie was kind enough to provide us with two versions of “Spike” on his inaugural album, and the twelve minute extended bonus track is a must listen. The quartet of Collier, League, Sparks, and Thomas comes together in a fiery jam-filled track where each member plays a distinctive role and layers over each other in a truly beautiful way. Utilizing numerous effects/pedals, Collier brings Hendrix back to life with intense chord changes and some ridiculous slide playing that in my opinion is unmatched in our musical world today. This is not your typical bluegrass dobro my friends. This is Hendrix-esque shredding; with a funky ass bass/drum beat behind it and an organ solo that would make Melvin Seals a very happy man. I can’t get enough of this song. There is so much going on with Michael League holding down the foundational bass line and the three others feeling themselves on top of it. Again, I remind you to play this album loud and have room to dance.

I was lucky enough to see Collier live for the first time on Jam Cruise 2013 sitting-in with Greensky Bluegrass on the Allman Brother’s classic “Midnight Rider.” I had no idea who he was, had never heard of the Lee Boys, and was very much so a baby-wook. But something happened in the purple theater that brings me full circle to my previously mentioned want to get back to purely just being present and enjoying the live music in front of me. Forgetting my reviews, and putting down my camera I was introduced to one of the biggest smiles you will ever see on any stage across the country. Rosie, you made me cry tears of pure enjoyment that night and it’s quite possible that you have done so a few other times in the last four years. You are an amazing musician, person, and friend with one of the very best hearts. Not only are you one of my favorites, but I can firmly say/believe you are one of the absolute best pedal steel guitar players in this world and I cannot wait to see what comes next for you.

All in all, I cannot be more pleased and happier for Roosevelt with Exit 16's release and when the likely supporting tour comes to our amazing state of Colorado, I will be first in line to grab a front row ticket. Do not miss this my friends. I will be there loving, respecting, and for damn sure dancing every moment Collier graces us with his presence in the Rocky Mountains and I hope you come along with me.


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