Years ago my old friend, the poet Robert Slater, turned me on to the music of slide guitarist Robert Randolph, saying Randolph came from my part of New Jersey and I should definitely catch him live when he played. But though he was known and headlined at festivals and other venues around the world, and appeared on Letterman and other live TV shows, he never seemed to play in Jersey.
Then last year he played in Morristown which is up in the hills about twenty-five minutes away but I couldn't make that and was disappointed. Until last night. Our little local summer music festival known as Maplewoodstock which has been running for a decade or so and started out with just local bands on a small riser open to the elements, is now a summer weekend party that showcases dozens of musical acts and culminates on Sunday night with the final and most famous act (that'll be Norah Jones tonight).
But Saturday night is often the most raucous party time and last night was no exception with Robert Randolph and The Family Band (his "little" sister sings and one or two cousins are among the instrumentalists though Robert introduces all his sidemen and women as "cousins" and the line up seems to vary from year to year and even month to month or day to day with the bassist and drummer the constants) ending the night in an orgy of swing your hips funk drive.
I was too busy boogieing to remember to use my phone to record anything, so all I have are a few mellower (by comparison) clips from other live performances with various line ups, but it might give you a taste of why Randolph has been called "the Jimmi Hendrix of the slide guitar" and was included in Rolling Stone's list of the top 100 guitar players of all time [make sure you listen to the second half of the second clip for a very rare taste of his talent, and though the third clip cuts off early catch that one for an introduction to his more usual funk, and sorry about the quality of the sound but it's good enough to get it].