The Family Band are a funk ‘n’ soul jam-outfit fronted by bandleader and pedal-steel hero ROBERT RANDOLPH. They will be releasing their new album “Brighter Days” on August 23 via Provogue / Mascot Label Group. The album was produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell).
Robert Randolph grew up playing the “sacred steel” in a family band that played together in the House of God church in Orange, New Jersey. They soon began to take their joyous, gospel-infused music out to clubs, with the band comprising of family members.
Randolph joined the North Mississippi Allstars (with jazz keyboardist John Medeski) and worked with The Word (band project) whose mission was to bring sacred steel and gospel blues to a wider audience. Randolph’s Family Band would open for the North Mississippi Allstars and then rejoin the musicians after their set, with Medeski, as “The Word.”
The first Robert Randolph and the Family Band live album, Live at the Wetlands, was released in 2002 and their studio debut, Unclassified (2003) caught the attention of Eric Clapton, who they later toured with and who guested on their 2006 album Colorblind ( that also featured Dave Matthews.) They worked with producer T-Bone Burnett on their fourth studio album We Walk This Road, released in 2010.
The band are celebrated for their lively performances that oftentimes turn into euphoriant dance-ins where the band & fans get lost inside the music. A productive touring program has seen them hit the road with: Gregory Porter, Gary Clark Jr, Buddy Guy, Living Color, Tedeshi Trucks and the Dave Matthews Band amongst others.
The family band have played Clapton’s Crossroad Festival at Maddison Square Garden as well as major festivals across Europe, most notably Hyde Park Calling. Randolph has also been involved with the hugely popular Experience Hendrix Tour with Eric Johnson, Bootsy Collins, Robby Krieger, Taj Mahal and Steve Vai.
Rolling Stone Magazine voted Randolph as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time and the band have earned three Grammy nominations.
We’ve been listening to some of the tracks from the forthcoming album, Brighter Days —
“Baptise Me” the groovy lead track from the LP brings generous judders of hope and purity. The steel guitar zings away behind a locomoting beat. The message is shouted clear and is adorned by wonderful voices of support. The brightness of guitar at midpoint is intoxicating. The sacred steel is colorful, energetic and almost reckless in elevated spirit; yeah, you can feel the baptismal fire burning your toes. It’s as if Bootsy Collins joined Prince on stage and they run amok with the Queen of Funk.
“Have Mercy” (video shared below) is a slow-paced country-style ballad with an acoustic piano riff and a soft, nostalgic guitar. Here, vocalist (sister) Lenesha Randolph takes a central-role while cousins, bassist Danyel Morgan & drummer Marcus Randolph, maintain a steady backline. It is about holding firm the love and faith you need while going through a difficult moment. Yes, God help us, we have all been there. And don’t we need a little mercy?
Brighter Days by Robert Randolph & The Family Band will be released August 23, 2019.