Friday night found me 20 feet from the front of the stage at Brooklyn Bowl, in Williamsburg, soaking up three hours of knock-your-socks-off playing by Robert Randolph and the Family Band. I felt like I’d been swallowed by the sun.
If you’re not familiar with Randolph, I’d recommend remedying that. He’s a pedal steel shaman, a guy who’s taken an instrument usually relegated to countryfying every three-chord weeper to come out of Nashville and turned it into a medium for summoning the ghosts of Hendrix, Eddie Hazel and Duane Allman. His band, particularly the rhythm section, is heartbeat-steady—if your heart runs on funk and grooves of the deepest, darkest blue.
They band brought on a few guests I didn’t recognize: aguitarist who looked like a young Eric Clapton (but didn’t quite play like him) and a keyboardist who looked like Johnny Depp.
But Randolph didn’t need any help. He’s got Bill Clinton-level charisma and the energy of a 30-year-old Springsteen. A supreme talent who’s cooking with uranium. If these guys come to your town, make time to see them.
(Photo of Randolph, seated, by yours truly. For your sake, dear reader, I became one of those jerks holding up a cell phone in front of the stage. I did it for you.)