Music News

Robert Randolph & the Family Band

Pedal-steel-guitar sensation Robert Randolph owes much of his rapid rise over the past several years to a simple if seldom-stated fact: In the minds of many music fans, hot chops more than compensate for a lack of originality. Randolph, who appears at the Fillmore with the Motet, developed his pedal-steel skills while performing at a church near his New Jersey home, and by 2000, when the commercial music industry discovered him at a Sacred Steel convention in Florida, he was already capable of producing runs so scorching that it's a wonder he didn't wear work gloves for his own protection. Shortly thereafter, he put together the Family Band, and their two discs together -- 2002's Live at the Wetlands and Unclassified, a 2003 studio offering -- are jammed with his vivid playing. Granted, tunes such as Unclassified's "Soul Refreshing" are standard genre pieces; they serve primarily as launching pads for Randolph's solos and fills rather than offering fresh takes on familiar styles. But in a concert setting, such caveats are sure to be drowned out by the sound of screaming steel.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts