Randolph grew up in Irvington, New Jersey and learned to play the pedal steel guitar at the House of God Church. Many folks associate the sound of pedal steel with the high lonesome sound of old-school country music. That’s just one option. Seeing a Robert Randolph show is like going out dancing on Saturday night and going to church on Sunday morning – only at the same time. Randolph coaxes amazing sounds out of his instrument, and often can be seen dancing wildly behind his pedal steel table. On the Poughkeepsie gig, expect ragers and soaring ballads, some sh*t-kickin’ blues and a smattering of tunes from his new We Walk This Road.
Randolph has taken his joyously foot-stomping, house-rocking, glory-be music to all sorts of interesting places. He has entertained often and well at jam-band-centric festivals like Bonnaroo, where the kids just can’t get enough of his funky stuff – and often scamper onstage to dance with the man. Randolph and his relative-stacked Family Band have also gotten folks up and moving at football games, on the soundtrack of a Madden NFL video game, even with TV commercials.
Originally a drummer, Randolph moved over in his teens to sacred steel: a boxy, horizontally positioned, electrified six-string guitar played with a metal slide and also known, in country music circles, as a lap steel or pedal steel guitar. In his African-American church music, an amped-up sacred steel replaced a Hammond organ, with similarly soaring though slip-sliding sounds intended to rouse and inspire, get folks on their feet and feeling the spirit. His first high-profile gig came working in 2001 with Martin, Medeski & Wood keyboardist John Medeski and the backwoods-bluesy North Mississippi Allstars on a testifying CD celebration called The Word.
Now a buzz is building for what’s looking like the biggest album in Randolph’s career, a year-and-a-half-in-the-making (so far) collaboration with noted producer T-Bone Burnett that blends the leader’s gospel and rock roots as filtered through the legendary producer’s encyclopedic appreciation of American music history.
Doors open for this gig at the Chance at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $30. For reservations, call (845) 471-1966.