Tag Archives: We Walk This Road


Robert Randolph Feels the Love

November 21st, 2012

Robert Randoph & the Family Band – Brooklyn Bowl – November 20, 2012

You’d be hard pressed to find a more likeable act than Robert Randolph & the Family Band. It’s not just the fact that a large chunk of the group comes from the same family as the supremely talented pedal-steel guitarist—it’s that Randolph’s music is just so damn eclectic. In the artist notes on his Web site, Randolph called his latest record, We Walk This Road, “…a celebration of African-American music over the past 100 years….” In truth, it showcases his signature fusion of gospel, soul, funk and blues. But it’s clear that there’s a hefty helping of sonic diversity in the mix. Last night at Brooklyn Bowl, along with covers of songs by preeminent black artists like Bill Withers (“Use Me”) and Michael Jackson (“Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough”), the group jammed on selections from legendary white rockers like Bob Dylan (“Maggie’s Farm”) and Led Zeppelin (“Whole Lotta Love”).

To hammer in the point further, the band invited Marc Roberge, from frat-boy favorite O.A.R., to pop onstage for a few songs. It’s this ability to integrate a variety of musical influences that underscores Randolph’s likeability. The second—and equally important— piece of the puzzle is Randolph’s unbelievably energetic show. He slowly hooked in the crowd with his virtuosity, beginning the night teasing his signature licks by playing them in short bursts and then finishing up the set with prolonged, heavily climactic solos. “Can I get a witness!” he screamed to the delighted audience after one particularly uplifting jam.

As it turns out, Randolph had no trouble doing that at all. Halfway through the set, one incredibly bold woman climbed onstage to display her dancing ability. (Quick note: She didn’t come anywhere close to vocalist Lenesha Randolph’s kinetic prowess.) And in a matter of seconds, 12 or so women were strutting their stuff in front of hundreds of delighted fans. After the song ended and people returned to the status quo, two of the interlopers planted big, grateful kisses on Randolph’s cheek. It was a fitting symbol of the crowd’s collective love for the band. —Alex Kapelman

(Robert Randolph & the Family Band play Brooklyn Bowl tonight, Friday and Saturday.)


Robert Randolph Returns

June 30th, 2010

Robert Randolph and the Family Band – The Bowery Ballroom – June 29, 2010

(Photo: John Nunu Zomot)

(Photo: John Nunu Zomot)

Has it been 10 years already? Yes, it’s been a decade and some change since Robert Randolph first announced his arrival on the NYC music scene, debuting on The Bowery Ballroom’s stage with a raw energy and superlative talent rarely seen in an unknown opening act. Last night, Randolph brought his joy-fueled pedal-steel guitar back to the Lower East Side, celebrating the release of his new album, We Walk This Road.

Backed by his Family Band, Randolph acknowledged the significance of the 10 years that had transpired, but for the most part he was looking back much further than that. Many of the tracks from the new album are reworked versions of old spiritual and gospel numbers. Scratchy samples of bits of older or original versions played over the PA before the band launched into updated fiery, funked-up versions of the same. “Traveling Shoes” opened the show and set the pace, with the pedal steel bridging the old and new, screaming like a sermon and bumping with dancehall energy along with the band—cousins, sister and sidemen all sharing the vocals.

Besides a scintillating version of “The March,” which got the sold-out crowd moving, the other constant from the past decade was the pure joy Randolph and Co. put into and get out of the music they play. It seemed they didn’t want to stop, extending each song with awe-inspiring, concise pedal-steel excursions. “If I Had My Way” brought out solos from bass, guitar and organ, before dropping into the classic sing-along coda of the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water.” As always, there was positive energy, good times and smiles all around—enough to last another 10 years. —A. Stein