Interview and Photos by Scott Preston
I had the pleasure to sit down with Cincinnati’s own Bootsy Collins and talk with him about his numerous musical projects and his restaurant/music museum that he has started with Jeff Ruby. Some of his notable projects he is involved in include a Fallen Soldiers memorial cd that includes Charlie Daniels and George Duke that will help raise funds for a Fallen Soldiers memorial to built here in Cincinnati. Bootsy is also heavily involved in bringing national attention to the history and influence that King Records has had on music.
Cincy Groove: So when did the initial brainstorm for Bootsy’s start?
Bootsy Collins: We started brainstorming and thinking about it a couple years ago. We were trying to think what could we do to set off the downtown Cincinnati area. It’s not only about the restaurant but the whole entertainment district and we are wanting to kick it off in a big way. We are hoping that this spot here in downtown across from the Aronoff Center will be the spot. We (Jeff Ruby and Bootsy) wanted to do something that was unique and first class, especially with Jeff Ruby involved. He is first class all the way and he is the same way about the restaurant that I am about the music. I leave all the restaurant stuff to him and I worry about the entertainment side of the business. On the stage we have on the 1st floor here, we are going to have the youngsters come in to participate in workshops. They will be able to practice on stage and we will have musicians here to help give them direction. We will also be able to record them.
Cincy Groove: How important was it to have King Records included the exhibit?
Bootsy Collins: Oh, wow, very important. We wanted to make sure that we mentioned King Records, where I started. That’s a part of Cincinnati music history that has been kind of forgotten. I wanted to make sure that people are reminded that not only this is where I started, but that Cincinnati has it’s own Motown, its own Stax. We were doing a lot of the same things they were it just wasn’t talked about. Syd Nathan did everything under one roof, the recording, the pressing, the shipping, everything. The way it was being done in Cincinnati at that time, nobody else was doing it that way. I feel it needs to be brought back to life.
Cincy Groove: What are the plans for the old King Records building?
Bootsy Collins: We are talking with Xavier University (here in Cincinnati), they are interested in being involved. So it will not only be a museum, but a recording facility and a music educational center for the kids. We want to make sure the kids know it’s not just about the past. We also want to make it a place where you can continue to grow and learn about music. Xavier is really excited about the whole process and I’m just glad that there are more than just a few of us that are excited about it. What it comes down to is that if we don’t talk about it no one else will. I really think the spark is there now, because a lot more people are talking about it now than there were 3-4 years ago. The the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came down and put the official plaque in front of the building. We just want to let everyone know that Cincinnati’s music scene is alive and kicking.
Cincy Groove: Tell me about the Fallen Soldiers cd project you are involved with.
Bootsy Collins: I hooked up with Keith Maupin about 3 1/2 -4 years ago, right about the time everything was in the news about his son Matt Maupin. I got to go to the April 9 celebration that they hold every year and got the chance to meet Keith and his wife along with June Bailey who heads up the Yellow Ribbon Support Center. After we started being involved with it year after year I started to realize that people were really hurting. I just asked myself what could I do to bring attention to the sacrifice that is being made by these men and women. What they told me they wanted to do is build a Fallen Soldiers Museum. To have a place that memorializes the sons and daughters that didn’t make it back, I thought was a great idea. So that is why we are doing this cd, to help raise funds to build the museum. June Bailey is currently looking for a physical location for the museum, so its moving forward.
Cincy Groove: Who do you have on the cd with you?
Bootsy Collins: I called my friend Charlie Daniels, who already is way into helping the soldiers, and said he would be glad to be involved. He has done a bunch of those USO tours for the troops. About 6 months before we even started doing this I was talking to George Duke and he was telling me how his son was over in Iraq. So I asked George Duke to be on the record and he jumped on board right away. Then we reached out to a lot of local artists and schools. To see so many people involved in the project and doing it from the heart was just amazing. It was a good heart felt project and I thought it was the right thing to do.
Cincy Groove: Are you working on any other projects?
Bootsy Collins: I just got back from Miami, working with Big D and Jim Johnson. They are like super producers who work with people like Beyonce. So I have been working with them over the last week on a few different projects we have going. I also talked to Slash a couple weeks ago about his new solo cd. I’m getting ready to go out there and do a few things with him on his album. I did a Gatorade commercial with Tiger Woods, that was a lot of fun. On Monday I’m getting ready to work on a whole new campaign with AT&T. Then there’s my new project called, In Z Class Of Its Own, where I’m going to try and feature some up and coming bassists that I feel should be recognized.
Also be sure to check out the rest of the photos I took of Bootsy’s place
631 Walnut Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Bootsy’s – http://www.jeffruby.com/bootsy.html