Photos by Lou Montesano
Music is a family affair for Robert Randolph. Appearing at Brooklyn Bowl the Friday after Thanksgiving, the pedal steel powerhouse and his Family Band kicked off the holiday season in joyous style. Randolph grew up playing in the house of God — literally, the House of God church in Orange, New Jersey, where the only music he heard was religious and his instrument of choice was known as the “sacred” steel. It wasn’t until his late teens that Randolph became aware of blues, soul, R&B, funk and other forms of secular music, but he quickly took it all in to create a vibrant sound that can be a religious experience of its own.
Joining him on this particular night were Marcus Randolph on drums, Lenesha Randolph on vocals, Joey Williams on guitar, Stevie Lawson on bass and Kasey Square on keyboards. Tearing through covers and originals, the two-hour set highlighted some of the material that will appear on Got Soul, Randolph’s first album for Sony Masterworks, scheduled for January release. The old Sam and Dave classic, “I Thank You,” along with samples of Hendrix, Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone, revealed the range of Randolph’s influences and blended familiar choruses with extended improvisation. Also joining Robert were Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Maurice Brown and Brooklyn’s own Eric Krasno.
Early in his career, as testament to his budding talent, Randolph played with Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, Luther Dickinson and other elite guitarists. Now mature and confident, Robert Randolph is fully hitting his stride as an artist and performer. Be sure to experience him as he continues to break new musical ground.