Robert Randolph Brings Us Home on Sunday at Busters
BY Donald Mason
photo Sacks and Company
Lexington has been blessed with a nice wave of music acts recently, mainly due to the Equestrian Games and accompanying Alltech Fortnight Festival. These next two days go a long way to continue the trend and prevent a musical hangover.
Two current heavyweights of the music realm, Robert Randolph and the Family Band Sunday night, then Michael Franti and Spearhead on Monday will be jamming the walls of Busters. I was able to catch Robert Randolph on his way to Atlanta and get to know the man behind the Sacred Steel.
What drove him to play the slide guitar? Some of the greats he followed in the beginning were Henry Nelson, Ted Beard and Willie Eason and being a witness to the House of God main musical instrument, the pedal steel.
“Growing up in the church and watching guys play and by learning from those guys and listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn later on –really trying to take the pedal steel slide guitar to another world of creativity and the way other guitar players approach it like SRV and Hendrix — for me was a big motivational thing.”
He wanted to take the pedal steel outside the mainstream. “It’s the next thing, I think of guitar music, because the history of just guitars period. This new way of sliding and, for me, mainly trying to imitate the human voice, such as Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke, with that kind of authority. That to me was the bones of what really started to drive me.”
Acclaimed as best of the best was a rare honor when he was included as part of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. It is even more rare when a musician is currently playing, growing and still reaching their prime. For keeping his ego in check. He says, “You gotta remain humble in order to grow in every aspect. Without being humble, you can’t grow, you can’t take any advice, you don’t want to listen to anybody. That’s just the way it rolls.”
When you talk about the Top 100 list, many people believe Jimi Hendrix to have the #1 headband. The last three years has been fortunate to have Robert adding the pedal steel guitar to the celebration of Hendrix. “It’s been a treat to be a part of these eclectic guitar players and guys with different styles that get together to see how Hendrix has influenced everyone.”
Many artists strike while the iron’s hot, but then fade out and lose their relevance, or hit a plateau. He comments, “You always want to make sure you are making good music, whether it’s radio hits or not because we want to be doing this when we are 50 or 60 years old. I am nowhere near where I really want to be. I am learning new stuff everyday. That is the key, you want to get better, you want to make good music and work with other artists. Always make sure the core of the fans are happy. Those are the ones that we all make music for out there. That’s what its all about.”
Randolph is no stranger to Kentucky, having played the Master Musicians Festival in Somerset this past July. Asked what Lexington should expect tonight, he wants you to be ready for a loud, good, wholesome, rocking time where you sing and dance and let it all out. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Check back later for coverage from tonights show at Busters.
POST SHOW REVIEW
Robert Randolph and the Family Band Delivers a Soul Explosion
Photos and Review by Donald Mason
A near sell out crowd witnessed a living legend call the shot and hit a bomb out of the park. Once Robert Randolph and the Family Band struck a chord, the musical journey took off. From lounging on the slide, playing on the ground and running in place in his chair while playing, Randolph brought a solid A game into Busters tonight. At one point, he called 20 ladies onto stage, of course after getting the crowd’s approval. After her moment with the soulful steel, Shawn Livingston says, “Robert Randolph feels my soul.”
Just when you thought the show was in a groove, you near a recognizable tune. That’s right, they covered Thriller in an instrumental style. The pedal steel can wail some MJ. Another cover they dropped was Black Water by the Doobie Brothers. Later on, he brought up a few different players up from the crowd to play a little guitar while Robert was on his feet, playing a candy red Tele. The house was officially brought down when the band whipped into “Aint Nothin Wrong With That.” Since he asked so nicely, the crowd started to lose control, flailing arms and moving in unison to the beat.
This was a spiritual night on the most soulful level. The word is out about Robert Randolph. If you got this show, you probably still feel it. For the rest, just ask someone to share the soul. I am sure they wont mind.
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