The Putnam Den is fortunate to have a quartet of legendary pedal steel musicians coming to town on Friday, as Robert Randolph Presents The Slide Brothers, four of the greatest living musicians who embody the Sacred Steel Tradition – Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell and Aubrey Ghent. The joyous music these legendary artists create extends far beyond scared steel to encompass blues, rock and soul all celebrated with a sound that is uniquely their own. Opening the show is a great Delta blues guitarist in her own right, Danielle Miraglia from Boston.
The pedal steel guitar was introduced to church services by Willie Eason in the 1930’s. His single-string passages, which imitated the African-American singing and shouting voices, remain the signature sound of the Keith Dominion steel guitar style. Robert Randolph rose to fame a decade or more ago playing Sacred Steel with his band at The Wetlands, Bonnaroo and venues throughout the Northeast and has become the most successful artist to emerge from the Sacred Steel tradition.
The Slide Brothers include one man who has been dubbed the “B.B. King of gospel steel guitar”, Calvin Cooke. Calvin was hails from Cleveland and performed the pedal steel at Church of the Living God in Jewell Dominion, known for it’s strong steel guitar tradition. He continues to use the same instrument on stage today as he had in 1955, as well as a ten string pedal steel instrument which he plays in a unique tuning that came to him in a vision.
Aubrey Ghent, a nephew of Willie Eason, has also become a celebrated steel guitarist, preserving the sacred steel tradition and instrumental in bringing it to a wider audience. Unlike Robert Randolph and the Family Band who have crossed over to doing more secular music, Aubrey Ghent has stayed closer to the gospel roots of tradition, as have many of the steel guitarists of the Jewell Dominion. In recent years, Ghent has performed and recorded with several top recording stars including Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks.
Chuck Campbell began playing the lap steel guitar at the age of eleven. At fifteen he became one of the first players to utilize the Pedal Steel guitar in the House of God Church, Keith Dominion. Chuck is renowned for his innovative approach to the instrument both technically and musically. His use of effects such as distortion, tone control pedals like the Wah-Wah and his picking techniques enable him to emulate the human voice in an uncanny fashion.
Darick Campbell first made his mark in music as a drummer. For several years Darick was the premier drummer of the General Assembly, the National Convocation of the House Of God Church in Nashville, Tennessee. His choice of the Lap Steel is a reflection of the influences he has blended to become the most emotional player of The Campbell Brothers musical tour d’ force. His renditions of “End of My Journey” have caused audiences throughout the world to weep in heartfelt response to his playing.
“My goal is to open the door for people in the same way that musical doors have been opened for me,” explains Randolph. “I want to take this musical history and make it relevant to give people a better idea of who we are and where this tradition came from. I think even though I’m a young guy who was born into the era of hip-hop and contemporary gospel, I can help bridge the cultural gap between people who are seventy-five years old and kids who are fifteen years old by reaching back into this history of music.”
Find out for yourself how deep this musical history sounds with The Slide Brothers on Friday night at The Putnam Den. Doors are at 8, show is at 9:30. Tickets are $10 at the door and $8 in advance.