Robert Randolph and The Family Band
Tarrytown Music Hall, November 16, 2012:
Kathy and I travel over to Tarrytown, New York to what has become our preferred music venue in Westchester County, the Tarrytown Music Hall. This classic music venue has excellent acoustics, a relaxed atmosphere and superior customer service that everyone who goes there thoroughly enjoys.
The Robert Randolph Family Band begins playing at 9:15 P.M. Robert Randolph’s approach to the pedal steel guitar is quite original and refreshing. The opening song has Robert Randolph beginning the night on the sultry side. The tempo is driving with a creative drum figure. The mood is soothing and hypnotic. The dynamic intensity builds as the tone sharpens featuring clever rhythmic punctuations.
“I’m Not Listening,” featuring younger sister Lenesha on vocals, is next. The answer/response vocal “Keep on talking... I’m not listening,” between brother and sister is very effective. This punchy tune exudes attitude and showcases succinct dynamic stops and accents. The arrangement segues into “Maggie’s Farm.” The Family Band’s interpretation of the Bob Dylan classic is powerful with the strong refrain, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” resonating throughout the sizable hall.
Robert Randolph asks the audience if they ever had hard times in life and sings “press on.” Robert and Danyel share the vocals on “Pressing My Way.” The vocal arrangement is sorrowful, passionate and powerful, complemented by soaring leads on pedal steel guitar. The feeling is completely genuine, truthful and profoundly personal from deep within. The tempo builds and dynamics intensify. The drums are powerful with the bass drum played hard and strong. Danyel refrains “press on,” emphasizing a potent message of understanding and compassion.
The tempo changes to a spirited boogie groove on the next arrangement of “Shake Your Hips.” This Rolling Stones original, from Exile on Main Street, is interpreted brilliantly. Robert Randolph summons all women on the stage. Marcus Randolph accelerates the adrenaline with a skillful drum feature. Kathy and sister-in-law Laura join many other dancing women on stage. All the enthusiastic dancers freely oblige with beautiful hip shaking.
The following song is a staggered 4/4 tempo that’s strong and distinctly funky. The musical presentation is clever, cunning and subtly sexy. The rhythm has magnetic appeal with well-timed accents. Robert calls on Lenesha to ‘testify.’ Robert Randolph switches to guitar and then returns to his pedal steel to conclude the creative musical display.
During the next song, Robert Randolph solicits audience members to come on stage and play guitar with the band. With our dear friends Margaret and Tim pointing and gesturing toward me, Robert Randolph extends his red-sparkle Telecaster guitar to invite me to play. I hesitate in fear, while my wife Kathy encourages me to get up there. I look at Robert Randolph’s insistent stare and I walk up to the stage. I climb up the stairs to the stage. I am totally surprised and somewhat transfixed.
I observe that the song is in the key of B. A stage hand gives me a guitar, which I strap over my jacket and Robert Randolph hands me a pick. I feel the adrenaline rush through my fingers. I start to play blues guitar leads in the key of B and Robert Randolph seems immediately pleased. I continue to play along with Robert’s guitar and vocals. I am completely on auto-pilot and not consciously thinking too much, just naturally playing on the stage of the Tarrytown Music Hall.
I feel the guitar playing is adequate and matches the band’s musical arrangement in context and rhythmic presentation. There is a spontaneous give and take between the two guitars. I am surprisingly calm and amazingly composed considering the awestruck magic of this miraculous musical moment. Robert Randolph stops me and I shake his hand and thank him. I leave the stage smiling, laughing and expressively saying, “Yeah baby!” I am totally IN SHOCK! Kathy and I hug with Margaret and Tim. Several patrons say it sounded good, but I am really too blown away to even think. I am so so thankful and excited.
The next song is a 2/4 upbeat bounce. The musical delivery is intense and ballsy. The dynamics build, build and build with strong sustained accents; rock on! The excitement builds to an almost out-of-control level. Marcus Randolph is smokin’ on his drums. The following song aims to slow it down. Robert sings “sha la la, keep on movin’, keep on movin’.” At this point the audience is standing and dancing.
The encore is soothing, sensual, silky and sexy with musical and emotional finesse. The melody is beautiful with a double-tone effect on the pedal steel. The song is all groove. Danyel’s bass solo is funky and strong. He showcases his talents with dazzling double-slapping and furious plucking. Marcus Randolph is featured on drums and he knocks it out the park on his trap kit! WOW!!
The next tune features Jason Crosby on organ and is both warm and soulful. The band executes effective vocal refrains, “if I had my way... see your face again.” Lenesha is featured on vocals and she is fantastic. The ultimate enjoyment is their purest and sweetest four-part vocal harmonies that only family genes can meld the way they do.
The concert ends in complete performance hysteria as the band, led by Robert, plays “Voodoo Child.” Robert Randolph’s interpretation of Jimi Hendrix is incredible. Danyel is furiously slapping his bass and Marcus is driving the train on his massive drum set. Danyel’s bass solo is all feverish plucking and picking. The final musical presentation displays tremendous dynamics, with passion, possession and pizzazz. Robert Randolph executes soaring leads on his pedal steel guitar. Robert Randolph leans back and looks to the heavens during an emotionally charged and technically superior passage over the driving sound of The Family Band.
Robert Randolph and The Family Band put on an amazing show tonight. The entire audience is completely blown away! This incredible musical experience is something everyone should come out to see for themselves! YEAH BABY...
Someone pinch me, I must be dreaming.
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