Roosevelt Collier & Nigel Hall’s Gospel Surprise
Photo by Tim Borland
The Purple Hatter’s Ball festival celebrated Mother’s Day with a special Sunday gospel set anchored by Roosevelt Collier and Nigel Hall. The set, aptly named Roosevelt Collier & Nigel Hall’s Gospel Surprise, included a fellowship of musicians and began at 1pm Sunday following a weekend of music at the Spirit of the Suwannee park in Live Oak, FL.
The ensemble was introduced by the festival’s founder, Paul Levine, who dedicated the afternoon to Rachel Morningstar Hoffman, the inspiration for The Purple Hatter’s Ball, and “to all those who had lost loved ones recently.” This included Lettuce guitarist Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, who had yet to perform for a live audience since the passing of his mother on April 29 (Ian Neville filled in for him during several JazzFest gigs). He took the stage along with the other special guests: Lenesha Randolph (Robert Randolph & The Family Band), Pete Shand (The New Mastersounds), Jermal Watson (Dirty Dozen Brass Band), Jonathan Lloyd (Dubconscious) and The Shady Horns—Ryan Zoidis, Eric Bloom and James Casey (Soulive, Lettuce, Trey Anastasio Band).
The setlist offered a mix of classic covers and old gospel tunes, and began with “Shaky Ground,” which saw Hall and Randolph’s vocals skillfully merging with Collier’s sacred pedal steel. Eric Krasno (Lettuce) joined the celebration on “Wade in the Water” and Adam Deitch (Lettuce) made his first appearance during Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” Margie Weiss took the stage to honor her daughter Rachel and thank Levine and the park for supporting the Rachel Morningstar Foundation. Friends and artists then released 23 butterflies to honor the 23 years of Rachel’s life, before the ensemble progressed with Frankie Beverly’s “Back in Stride” featuring both Krasno and Erick “Jesus” Coomes, also of Lettuce. They remained on stage through Donny Hathaway’s 1972 arrangement of “You’ve Got a Friend,” led by Hall.
Here’s a look at the show’s setlist
Shaky Ground (The Temptations)
People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfield)
Going Up the Yonder (Walter Hawkins)
Wade in the Water*
Grandma’s Hands (Bill Withers)
Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder)^
He’s An On Time God
Back in Stride (Frankie Beverly)%
You’ve Got a Friend (Carole King)%
*with Eric Krasno
^with Eric Krasno and Adam Deitch
%with Eric Krasno and Erick “Jesus” Coomes