By Scott Hopkins for Music Fest News
Right after Suwannee Hulaween, the Roosevelt Collier Band and Electric Kif put together a five-night run around Florida November 1-5, beginning in Cocoa Beach and ending in Miami. This would mark the third time seeing both bands in the past two months (13 days in Collier’s case). We consider that very fortunate indeed.
The show November 2 in Winter Park was at an unfamiliar location: Conduit. The club had changed its name from The Haven at the beginning of the year; it was and is primarily a heavy metal club, but it was perfect for this evening. The sound engineers did a good job reining in the volume from the normal fare there, and both bands threw down some heavy tunes of their own.
We had seen Electric Kif match up in September with TAUK Moore for a superb show, and early Saturday at Suwannee Hulaween they treated us to a set of new music on the huge Hallows stage. Kif’s hour-long set at Conduit was an intimate look at the band, and they worked through old favorites, new music, and cover tunes as well.
Electric Kif are: Rodrigo (Digo) Zambrano, bass; Armando Lopez, drums; Jason Matthews, synths, keyboards; and Eric Escanes, guitar.
They opened with “95 Civic” and “Joe Way” before diving into the Herbie Hancock catalog for “Actual Proof.” Matthews and his array of keyboards sounded glorious. A new song, “Rain Mantra,” followed. Digo had an outstanding bass intro to “Sonar.” They came out roaring for “Square Grouper,” Escanes blazing on guitar (well, all set).
Armando Lopez set the pace all set long from his kit as they hit the fusion even harder with “Asking Before Trouble,” and it bubbled way over the top with Weather Report’s “Elegant People.” They closed the outstanding set with “Anthem.”
The set break took all of 18 minutes. Collier has toured with Electric Kif, and both bands used the same drum kit and same keyboard phalanx.
The Roosevelt Collier Band are: Roosevelt Collier, pedal steel guitar, modified lap steel guitar; Tommy Shugart, organ, keyboards; Harry Ong, bass; and Aaron “Bucky” Buckingham, drums. This is the band Collier takes on his European tours. In addition to their set on the Meadow stage at Hula, they had just pulled double duty at Clearwater Jazz Holiday the week before, playing a fine afternoon set before sprinting to the evening show at The Sound (new Clearwater amphitheater) to fill in for the ailing Buddy Guy.
Collier and band jumped immediately into several of Collier’s song/jam concoctions, powerful jamming with the pedal steel guitar riding on top. The third tune teased around one of his favorite covers, “Superstition.” They invited Escanes up to shred, and shred he did after a fine Shugart organ solo, with Ong and Buckingham driving the pace and riding the Roosevelt waves.
In the audience was a who’s who of Orlando jam musicians, including Chuck Magid, Daniel Heitz, Glenn Kastrinos, and David Ernesto, all members of Steeln’ Peaches, the Allman tribute band, along with Buckingham. Collier had joined them on stage at Hula for a marvelous “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” In fact, Collier’s Jimi Plays Funk show will tour in December with Steeln’ Peaches.
With that in mind, Collier called up guitarists Magid and Heitz for a romp through “Hot ’Lanta,” another of Collier’s favorite. It featured another great Shugart solo. Next, the members of Electric Kif and Shugart joined Collier for an even bigger excursion through Herbie Hancock’s “Hang Up Your Hang Ups,” a tune both Collier and Kif include in setlists on the regular. Great guitarist Roland Simmons, who channels Eddie Hazel, blazed as well.
Time for one more tune, as Collier grabbed his customized lap steel and invited drummer Rashid Williams for a final tune.
Thanks to all of the musicians, the crew at Conduit, and photographer extraordinaire Smilin’ Shell for a fabulous night!