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Monday, June 29, 2009

Robert Randolph & The Family Band

Tonight @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino Rock Stage, Summerfest, 10 p.m.

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Credit the House of God Church in Orange, N.J., for teaching Robert Randolph to play the pedal steel guitar and providing him with both musical and religious inspiration. And credit the late Stevie Ray Vaughn for providing inspiration of another, less religious sort.

Randolph plays the “Sacred Steel,” which is how his steel guitar is referred to in many African-American Pentecostal churches, with the support of Danyel Morgan on bass, Marcus Randolph on drums and Jason Crosby on keyboards, though Randolph’s backup band sometimes becomes a trio when Randolph sets aside his Sacred Steel to teach a few dance moves to his audiences. Randolph has been known to stop the show if audience members aren’t dancing or appearing to enjoy themselves sufficiently.

One of Randolph’s biggest fans is Eric Clapton, who has employed the band as his own opening act on several occasions. The band featured prominently at Clapton’s 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival. Chances are that has less to do with Randolph’s dancing and more to do with the sounds he manages to coax from his Sacred Steel. In either case, the band’s Summerfest appearance at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino Rock Stage is sure to strike a few heavenly notes as the audience rises to make a joyful noise of its own.

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