Music Current Choice

Sacred steel - Robert Randolph slides into town with Santana and Salvador

Robert Randolph
Growing up in Irvington, New Jersey, a young Robert Randolph often found himself with one foot in the church and the other in the streets. Coming from a family that was deeply religious and musically inclined, Randolph spent Sunday mornings manning the drum kit at the House of God Church in nearby Orange. The House of God denomination has been closely associated with pedal-steel guitar since the 1930s when Willie Eason introduced the instrument to a Philadelphia congregation as an alternative to the costly organ. By age 17, Randolph graduated to a basic six-string lap-steel guitar of his own and a familial friendship with Detroit steel legend Ted Beard sparked his devotion to sacred steel.

In 2002, Robert Randolph & The Family Band released Live At The Wetlands, a searing concert album that showcased Randolph’s evolving “rockspel” sound. The following year, their infectious major label debut, Unclassified, drew comparisons to the inclusive sounds of Al Green, Stevie Wonder, and Sly and the Family Stone. Since then, Randolph has been a kind of virtuoso du jour, opening for acts ranging from Eric Clapton to Dave Matthews, and Rolling Stone magazine included him in their ranking of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”

Current Choice

Robert Randolph & the Family Band
the Salvador Santana Band

Thu, Oct 6

SBC Center
One SBC Center Parkway

Randolph lists Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix among his major influences, but his highest compliments are reserved for Stevie Ray Vaughan. “The way he played his guitar, with so much soul, gave me a whole new outlook on music,” Randolph revealed in a 2003 interview. “Nothing beats playing with soul, when you give it your all. You can hear it in his playing. Even now, sometimes when we’re in the studio I’ll be thinking, Man, I want to get the greatest licks into this thing,’ but when you’re thinking about getting a great lick instead of playing what you feel, it never comes out right. Playing with soul is really the only way I can play.”

- M. Solis


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