Sacred Steel Guitarist Roosevelt Collier on His Success: "It's a Thrill to Be on the Ride"

Categories: Interview

Alex Markow

Roosevelt Collier is a South Floridian through and through. The pedal steel guitarist, playing in the sacred steel tradition, gradually became a force of nature in the local jam community and his talents are now desired by some of the most famous musicians worldwide.

He first played gigs with his uncles and cousins in the Lee Boys, and then branched off for a solo career. He still finds time to jump on stage with plenty of heavy-hitters like Umphrey's McGee and Perpetual Groove. He puts his entire heart and soul into each song, making every one of them memorable.

With extensive touring and many festival appearances in 2014, it seems also that Collier is soon to be a huge national name with no state guarded against one of his patented "jambushes."

"This year has been pretty awesome," Collier admits. "The shows I've been able to be a part of have been incredible." He was on tour with the new saxophonist of the Rolling Stones, Karl Denson, and his outfit Tiny Universe. They had a string of nearly sold-out shows in Colorado and put on some history-making sets at Bear Creek right here in Florida.

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Michael Franti Pens Song in Miami About Police Brutality Protests

Categories: Interview

Jon Callas via Flickr CC
Franti in 2011

In the first two weeks of December, Michael Franti was recording in Miami -- the same time as protests were breaking out around the country over the lack of indictments for police killing unarmed black men.

In response, he was inspired to write the song "Same as it Ever Was (Start Today)" -- a one-off that Franti is releasing on iTunes outside of a record label. A video -- which he shot in California just last week -- will air on exclusively today, and then on YouTube.

[New Times was tipped off by our copy editor Keith Hollar, a longtime friend of Franti's who was hanging out with him in the studio when he wrote the song.]

Franti -- a mixed-race artist who has long been involved in social justice issues -- spoke to us from San Francisco about the song right before its release.

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Raggy Monster Is Staying Together and Back with New Album

Categories: Interview

Photo by the RO Project, courtesy of Raggy Monster

With the impending release of a new album and a successful Kickstarter created to fund it (which received well over its goal amount of $5K back in March), Palm Beach County band Raggy Monster has much to celebrate and is planning to so in style.

Just nine months ago, founding members -- and as of November, husband and wife -- Billy Schmidt and Rachel DuVall were unsure of the band's future. Guitarist Christian Morgan announced he was leaving the band to focus on his family.

"When we said this was our last album, it was mainly due to how many member changes we've gone through," Schmidt says, referring the whopping nine bandmates the group's swapped out in just three years.

With a new bassist and guitarist climbing aboard the Raggy train, however, Schmidt says he and DuVall are ready to fully commit themselves to playing and touring as a band.

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The Golden Pelicans on a Return to Punk: "People Are Pretty Angry These Days"

Categories: Interview

Simon Simard

Orlando punk band the Golden Pelicans requires that the crowds at its shows pay close attention to their noggins.

This past September, onstage at a rock gathering of the wildest sort -- Gonerfest 11 in Memphis -- frontman Erik Grincewicz shook two bottles of champagne, sprayed down the audience, and threw one bottle to the floor.

"I think he was thinking it would hit the ground and break," explains drummer Rich Evans, "but it didn't. It just bounced off of the stage, real high into the air. It was, like, in slow motion." From behind his drum set, Evans had a good view of the whole thing. "I was like, 'Oh my God, someone's going to get killed.'"

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Never Land Brings Live Harp to Bluesy Indie Rock

Never Land

You can find a band that centers its music around the guitar on every block, but to find one that's primary instrument is the 36-string Celtic harp, you'll have to travel to a distant land. Never Land to be precise.

Never Land is a Palm Beach Gardens five-piece that just released its first album Universal Poet, available on

"Searching on Craigslist, I saw someone advertising for musicians to play with her electric harp," said the band's drummer and founder Merrick Crittenden about how he first connected with the angelic instrument. "She said she liked Peter, Paul and Mary and wanted to make hippie music, so I brought out my conga drums and we jammed. A year later she moved to Pennsylvania, and I figured I'd never find a harpist again."

But then fate intervened.

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Trans-Siberian Orchestra to Perform The Christmas Attic Live at BB&T Center

Jason McEachern, 2014

"It's kind of like having a child; there's no secret," says Al Pitrelli, guitarist and founding member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. "You give birth to something. You're there from its inception. You fall in love with it the second it opens its eyes. And 20 years later, you realize that it's grown up into something you're so proud of."

For the past 18-plus years, TSO has been synonymous with Yuletide for fans of progressive and neoclassical metal. Known for operatic stage shows, TSO was formed by producer Paul O'Neill, who enlisted coproducer Robert Kinkel, rock musician Jon Oliva, and Pitrelli.

Tours for holiday albums like Christmas Eve and Other Stories and The Lost Christmas Eve have become unofficial traditions. And for the first time, TSO is performing its middle album, The Christmas Attic, as the show opener.

"The short version of the story is that we started touring in '99 and had seven or eight cities on the itinerary that first year," Pitrelli says, recalling the early days of TSO. "By the following year, there was 50 cities, and we're at a point now of 120-something, so we haven't really had a chance to catch a breath."

See also: Last Night: Trans-Siberian Orchestra at BankAtlantic Center

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Stephanie Hutin's Art Captures Coming of Age in a Vanished Miami

Categories: Interview


Much like many Cubans in South Florida who longed for and spoke often of the pre-Castro Cuba of their memories, Miami-bred, Los Angeles based artist Stephanie Hutin is fixated on the pubescent period in her youth. It's a place in time that is so unique, she says, "You cannot understand it unless you were there."

Picture this -- as fellow Floridian, Golden Girl Sophia Petrillo might say -- Miami, the late '80s, early '90s. A young girl, coming of age, is listening to freestyle on the car radio, strapped in the backseat, watching cruise ships sailing out of Port of Miami.

Twenty years later, living on the other side of the country, she's using art to recapture that time and place. Hutin is well aware that the city of her youth during that sort of lonely era in its history no longer exists. Of that Miami, she remembers car clubs at her high school and eternal suburbs, and says, "I think about flip-flops. It was acceptable to wear flip-flops all the time."

Hutin's recent work, "Kathleen," a short film screening at Miami short Film Festival this Saturday on Miami Beach, illustrates the time in young girls' lives when you meet your best friend and feel only "pure adoration" for her. It's part of a much larger script that showcases, what she describes as, "this gray area in girlhood when friendship and romantic love are the same thing," and a Miami of yesteryear.

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Electropop Band Crying Will Have You Emoting in Margate


Crying, a New York City electropop band with an emotional name, calls its sound "sunshine pop," "porn groove," and "crime funk," all which evoke a lot of feelings. The trio includes guitarist Ryan Galloway, singer Elaiza Santos, and drummer Nick Corbo.

The band's peculiar name was not inspired by a specific incident, nor an emotive action done regularly by members. Instead, Galloway stated that when recording its new EP, the band merely tried to find a simple moniker that no other band had snatched up.

"We used to check and Crying wasn't taken," he explained. "It had nothing to do with our music." So, don't expect to do any weeping at its Talent Farm-promoted show at O'Malley's tonight in Margate.

See also: Seven Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale During Art Basel 2014

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Golden Glades Is Bringing "Loud and Heavy" Metal to Fort Lauderdale This Saturday

Categories: Interview


"I can't believe it's already December," I thought while looking at my tattered 2014 daily planner. I noticed an interview scheduled with Todd Space, bass player for a great new local band, Golden Glades. I compulsively began to write down five emergency questions, which serve to prevent awkward silence during an interview with an artist whose work I admire:

1. How would you like a nice, greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray?
2. Wouldn't you love to wrap your hairy arms around Rob Halford while riding on the back of his motorcycle?
3. Do you believe in satan?
4. Would you like fries with that?
5. Is marijuana legal yet?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, please continue reading; and let the gods of mystic metal take you for an enchanting stroll through the Golden Glades.

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Xeno & Oaklander and Iceage to Do DJ Sets at Radio-Active Records

Tonje Thilesen

For those wanting to dip their toes in all the Art Basel hullabaloo that's going down in Miami over the next few days but not fully commit, Radio-Active Records is offering a viable solution. Instead of having to schlep past the Golden Glades Interchange, you can show up at Fort Lauderdale's venerable vinyl emporium, which is bringing in two notable indie bands that have scheduled performances at the popular Wynwood watering hole Gramps during this Miami Art Week.

Granted, Brooklyn's minimalistic electro duo Xeno & Oaklander and Danish postpunk rockers Iceage are scheduled to do only DJ sets at Radio-Active Records this Thursday. But fret not; the good times will be rolling. "This show will give those who can't make it to Miami a chance to hang out with the performers in an intimate setting and listen to some good tunes," explains Radio-Active co-owner Mikey Ramirez.

See also: Seven Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale During Art Basel 2014

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