Pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph coming to Charles Town Saturday
Few musical artists can bridge the gap between gospel, blues, funk and rock. Robert Randolph can — and he does it in on a pedal steel guitar.
Rolling Stone Magazine calls Randolph one of the top 100 guitar players of all time — and he brings his legendary guitar prowess to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races Saturday.
Randolph started playing the pedal steel guitar at 15 in the Pentecostal House of God Church in Orange, N.J. Growing up, he was only allowed to listen to Christian and gospel music. When he was 19, a friend gave him tickets to a Stevie Ray Vaughan concert. The concert changed his life.
“After the concert, I wanted to play pedal steel like Stevie Ray played his guitar,” Randolph said in his biography. “I wanted to take another path than the people who played traditional pedal steel to take it to a whole new level.”
Randolph said he began playing and touring around New York City in 2000, playing clubs like Wetlands, when things started to take off.
“We were selling out large New York clubs with no record deal, and it started to spread to Philly and Boston,” he said. “Soon after, we signed to Warner Brothers, and word began to get around about us nationally. Great artists like Eric Clapton and Dave Matthews and B.B. King accepted us. Young artists, too: we toured with the Roots and Pharrell and John Mayer.” Randolph feels fortunate to have been accepted by a wide range of fan bases.
Randolph caught the eye of legendary producer T-Bone Burnett, who produced his last album, 2010’s “We Walk This Road.” A guitarist for Bob Dylan before producing such stars as Roy Orbison, Elton John, John Mellencamp and Elvis Costello, Burnett has won Grammy Awards for the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack and for his work with Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.
“T-Bone Burnett shared the vision of how gospel, blues and rock could be put together in a way that could relate to my history and connect to my present,” Randolph said. “My goal is to open the door for people, in the same way that musical doors have been opened for me. I want to take this musical history and make it relevant to give people a better idea of who I am and where I came from. I think even though I’m a young guy who was born into the era of hip-hop and contemporary gospel, I can help bridge the cultural gap between people who are 75 years old and kids who are 15 years old by reaching back into this history of music.”
Randolph is backed by the Family Band, which includes his brother Marcus on drums, sister Lenesha on vocals and cousin Danyel Morgan on bass and vocals.
The concert begins at 9 p.m. Saturday in the H Lounge at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.