Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Aug 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Home Is Where The Art Is

music RobertRandolph1Sacred steel whiz Robert Randolph reconnects with roots, finds inspiration

Last year at The Monterey Jazz Festival, Robert Randolph and the Family Band laid down a groove so infectious that it reached right into the genetic core of the audience. They were the only band that day whose music rivaled the intensity of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds’ jets that were buzzing above the fairgrounds. It wasn’t sheer volume that captivated the crowd—rather, it was the skills of brilliant sacred steel player Robert Randolph.

When he burst onto the scene in 2000, Randolph’s music was unlike anything anyone had ever heard before. Imagine catching Bob Marley at CBGB in 1976 and hearing reggae for the first time. Fast forward to today, and Randolph is touring with his mentors, The Slide Brothers. Together, they deliver a sound that is at once new, electrifying and full of the Holy Spirit.

Randolph grew up in the rough-and-tumble neighborhood of Irvington, N.J. in the 1980s and ’90s. While many of his friends ended up in jail, Randolph was safely sequestered within the church community that his family was a part of. From his home in West Orange, N.J. Randolph recalls those formative years. “As a kid sometimes people would be like, ‘Oh, you’re going to church again, why you going there?’ But hey, in those days you didn’t have any choice—our parents made us go to church.”

Unique to all other churches in the area, The Church of the Living God featured sacred steel—more commonly known as pedal steel guitar—in the church band. “It’s like Buena Vista Social Club—finally people can understand where my music comes from,” says Randolph.  “This style of pedal steel and guitar has been going on in our church since the early 1900s.”

Wanting to share the sounds and story of sacred steel with the world, Randolph’s latest project features his mentors from the church, including legendary players Calvin Cooke, Darick Campbell, Chuck Campbell and Aubrey Ghent. On their new release, Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers, music that has been 80 years in the making and previously only found within the walls of The Church of the Living God is now available to the secular public.

Known as the B.B. King of the sacred steel, Calvin Cooke of The Slide Brothers explains from his home in Atlanta, why, after so much time, the music has finally reached the masses. “I played in the church for 57 years and now another generation has come up behind us and they like to get out [and] do more,” says Cooke.

During their live show at The Rio Theatre on Wednesday, Feb. 20, Randolph and The Slide Brothers plan to play a variety of songs that everyone can enjoy—from Eric Clapton’s “Motherless Children” to the spiritual “Wade in the Water.”

The band members attribute their onstage chemistry to their tight-knit relationship. “We have all learned from each other and we are like family on the steel guitar because we all grew up together,” says Cooke. “We used to live together and babysit and we’ve known each other our whole lives.”

Randolph says that sharing the national stage with The Slide Brothers has been the greatest and most satisfying achievement of his career. “Now we actually get to tell our story,” he says. “Everyone will get to understand how important those guys were to me and the history of music of where I come from.” 


Robert Randolph performs with The Slide Brothers at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20 at The Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $25. For more information, call 423-8209.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual