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Robert Randolph & the Family Band at The New Parish

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Robert Randolph and his steel guitar. - PHOTO BY SHANE MCCAULEY
  • Photo by Shane McCauley
  • Robert Randolph and his steel guitar.

There’s a long history of steel guitars as part of traditional Pentecostal African-American gospel music that goes back to the Thirties. It’s called “sacred steel.” These days, we’re probably most likely to associate the steel guitar with country music. The biggest artist to continue to play this form of gospel music (along with strong elements of R&B, roots music, and funk) is Robert Randolph. To watch Randolph play is a true pleasure. He’s got an adherence for old music traditions, but he approaches the steel guitar with immense creativity, flipping all convention on its head: strumming it, running it through filters, ripping mind-blowing solos. Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the 100 greatest guitar players off all time and steel guitar players were in short supply on that list. Appropriately, his band is called the Family Band as they sound like a tight unit that creates passionate, feel-good tunes from the soul.

Friday, August 4, 9pm, $22-25, 1743 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, www.TheNewParish.com.

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