Robert Randolph & the Family Band is one of today’s premier jam acts. Renowned steel guitarist Robert Randolph will perform in Baton Rouge on February 21 at the Varsity Theatre.
With deep gospel roots, Randolph has taken the steel guitar to an entirely new level, drawing attention from guitar giants such a Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton, who have collaborated with him on the stage and in the studio.
In reference to his studio collaboration with Santana, Randolph remarked, “It was awesome. Being in the studio, we got a chance to really get down with him for like three days. We recorded around nine or 10 songs in that time. ‘Brand New Way’ was an energetic thing that we took from old African music. It was great to see. He’s one of those underrated music arrangers.”
The group’s latest album, “Lickety Split,” under Blue Note Records was their first release in three years and is now available in stores, on Amazon or on iTunes.
“Robert Randolph is an American original,” said Don Was, President of Randolph’s new label, Blue Note Records. “He has mastered what is, arguably, the most complex instrument in the world and developed a unique voice that is equal parts street-corner church and Bonnaroo. This album finally captures the energy and excitement of his legendary live performances.”
These legendary live performances have not gone unnoticed. Rolling Stone Magazine included Randolph on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, right next to Angus Young of AC/DC.
“My thing is really upbeat, up-tempo, with great guitar riffs,” Randolph said, “but also catchy choruses and lyrics that someday will make this music into classic tunes.”
The new album is comprised of Randolph’s actual family members Marcus Randolph, Danyel Morgan, Lenesha Randolph, together with guitarist Brett Haas.
The 11 original compositions as well as the stunning cover of “Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players were produced by Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Tommy Sims, Drew Ramsey and Shannon Sanders; engineered by the legendary Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin); and feature guest appearances from Trombone Shorty and Carlos Santana.
The track that seems to encompass the general feel of the album the most actually started as a jam session in a Nashville studio, and later came to be titled “Born Again.”
“It’s about finding the joy again,” Randolph says. “At first it was more of a love song, the sense you get when you find the right person, but then as we were recording this new music with a whole new sense of direction, and feeling free again, that all came into it. It’s not a religious thing, it’s just new energy — which is really the old energy that I had at the beginning of my career.”
Robert’s latest project has been remodeling an abandoned school building in his hometown of Irving, New Jersey and opening the Robert Randolph Music & Arts Program.
“It was an effort that I had to start,” Randolph explained. “In inner cities there is a lot of gang violence, kids don’t have the opportunity through music and arts. I just wanted to give back and give these kids the hope and the option of how we learned as teenagers to channel your inner self. It’s a great learning tool, helps you concentrate in school and better yourself.”
After signing with Blue Note Records and releasing Lickety Split to great reviews, Randolph is now touring across the country, with his next stop here in Baton Rouge at the Varsity Theatre.
“I’m still undiscovered, and that’s really the best thing about it,” Randolph said. “Now we have the chance to present the music right, and have the story told right, and for me to be focused on being an ambassador for inner city kids and a role model, and also an ambassador for my instrument and as an artist. As all these things happened, it got fun again.”
Check out Robert Randolph & the Family Band on their website: http://www.robertrandolph.net/music/ and make sure not to miss them at the Varsity Theatre on February 21.