Tarrytown Music Hall, June 16, 2012:
Kathy and I travel to the Tarrytown Music Hall in Westchester, to see Buddy Guy and Robert Randolph. We meet Kathy’s dear friends Margaret and Tim who exclaim, “You wore the shirt!” We dine exqusitely at the Santa Fe Mexican restaurant, two doors down from the theatre. We are so very excited about tonight’s dynamite double bill at the Tarrytown Music Hall. We all love the music hall due to its relaxed, low-key feel that’s both comfy and cozy.
Robert Randolph takes the stage at 8:10 P.M. He begins with solo pedal steel guitar, sporting a coy smirky smile, in a staggered 4/4 tempo that is strong and melodic. The other band members that tonight comprise the Family Band soon join him. The first tune is structured around an inventive hi-hat figure that surrounds a strong melody and a clever lead on pedal steel. The music continues building excitement, becoming even more sinewy and potent.
The next tune begins with a long dramatic pedal steel intro that segues into a poppin’ finger-pluck and thumb slap bass figure from bassist Danyel Morgan. Marcus Randolph drives the rhythm section with a super funky and succinctly tight hi-hat routine that showcases fluid and flashy rhythmic accents. Robert smirks and is amused. Robert Randolph’s pedal steel wails and utilizes dynamically contrasting stops with exuberant intensity that draws the audience into the spontaneous sensation on stage. There is a superb lead guitar break by cousin Ray-Ray. Robert Randolph executes wild triplets of extremely high intensity with the utmost of ease.
Robert Randolph changes to a lap steel guitar for a slow blues. The musical presentation is restrained and selective. Cousin Danyel Morgan sings the lead vocal as Robert soulfully bellows the vocal refrain. The musical performance exudes drama, emotion and a raw gritty texture that is totally genuine and natural. A melodic change is executed that is soothing and especially commanding.
The musical emphasis returns to a powerful 4/4 tempo that is very intense and strong. Robert Randolph bobs enthusiastically in his seat as the heartfelt intensity builds in the rhythmic development. A strong three part vocal harmony is featured to frame the thrilling pedal steel sound. The band kicks into double time as the energy lifts all boats. The intensity builds to a spirited vocal answer/response, “nobody... no, no, no nobody.” The musical feeling is extremely spirited and fiery, with dramatic rhythmic stop accents for dynamic theatrics. The tempo builds just as the spirits augment.
There is a tasteful pedal steel intro complemented by Marcus delicately playing reverse stick on his snare drum that forms a delicious island feel. The melodic development is reserved and tight. The solid bass by Danyel Morgan is bottom heavy; ‘fat’ and solid. There is a clever melodic change and Robert Randolph is really basking in a sensual and spiritual moment. The bass and lead guitar present an instrumental answer/response to develop the passionate melody. The music possesses salient charisma and a genuine soulful emotional appeal that culminates in a dramatic and commanding conclusion.
Robert Randolph straps on his red sparkle telecaster to begin a guitar groove that is very engaging and creative. The keyboard player, Brett Andrew Haas, is featured on harmonica. The bass solo is creatively funky with a pluck and slap attack that is sharp and succinct. The vocal refrain, “get on board, get on board,” underscores a subtle but sensitive melody and soothing vocal presentation. The harmonica solo is hot! The is a imaginative instrumental answer/response passage between the harmonica and lead guitarist Ray-Ray.
Marcus Randolph kicks us into high gear with a powerful drum solo intro that begins the next song. Robert leads the audience into a foot stompin’ frenzy that is extremely uplifting. The music is now a rocket ship that lifts us all into a fast and furious boogie. We’re all rolling now! Spirited hand clapping accompanies a fiery ensemble presentation. The drums are prominently featured here. The emotional intensity continues to crescendo as the band builds the melody and rhythm up to carefully articulated cymbal accents. Cousin Danyel soars on vocals, both high and powerful, while Robert kicks up his feet as he plays excellent lead features on his pedal steel; bringing the intensity of the song to the top of the ladder.
Robert Randolph breaks into Jimi Hendrix’s composition, “Voodoo Child” and we are all wild and overcharged with emotion. It’s quite amazing how much he sounds like his mentor Jimi. I actually saw Jimi Hendrix five times between spring 1968 and New Year’s Eve 1969, “Band of Gypsys,” at The Fillmore East. The rhythm section is like a wall of sound and has built up to extreme ferocity. The pedal steel sounds like a Fender Stratocaster. The drums are commanding and the bass is super staccato with a burly percussive thumb and finger attack. This music is on fire!
For the encore, the entire audience is standing. There is a thunderous musical groove in a torrent of audio saturation. The mood is electric, as the groove is H-E-A-V-Y!! The emphatic vocal refrain, “yeah, yeah, yeah” is curiously hypnotic as the audience is quite raucous. The sound is simmering, sexy and provocative. The song evolves into “Maggie’s Farm,” the Bob Dylan classic. The set ends with the audience superbly titillated, passionately screaming, and cooked to a well done rockin’ roast.
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