Published in encore magazine, May 17, 2017
Robert Randolph and the Family Band just released their fifth studio album, “Got Soul,” in February 2017. During a recent phone interview with encore, Randolph admitted the record was just as fun to make as it is to listen to. When it comes to recording, he has it down to a simple science: “When everybody starts smiling and laughing, and everybody feels good, everything’s connected. That’s when you know you’ve got a good version of a song.”
Joined by drummer Marcus Randolph, Lenesha Randolph (vocals), Ray Ray Randolph (bass), and Brett Haas (guitar), they’ll play Throne Theater on May 20. Frontman Randolph is best known for his pedal-steel guitar, also known as “sacred steel.” He uses his platform in music to share his knowledge and roots of the instrument.
While it originated in Hawaii and is oft-used to complete country band ensembles, its history derives from Pentecostal churches in the ‘30s. Randolph was trained as a pedal-steel guitarist in the House of God Church in New Jersey. He found the instrument to be a virtual well of untapped potential, in terms of what it could do and how it could sound. As an inner-city kid growing up in church, Randolph has developed a style of sacred steel music that has influenced the likes of Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Derek Trucks, The Allman Brothers, and countless musicians.
“We all have a story and a journey,” he says. “The first time I met Eric Clapton . . . we wound up talking for an hour-and-a-half—just explaining the story of how and where [sacred steel] came from.”