Robert Randolph and the Family Band
Blues and gospel — two of America’s most beloved art forms — are continually reinvigorated, thanks to fresh takes by innovative musical minds. The latest update arrives courtesy of Robert Randolph, who picks up where Stevie Ray Vaughan left off. Randolph’s riffs aren’t as incendiary as Vaughan’s, but his fluid playing and his smooth, burnished baritone are built for radio. Randolph developed a taste for roots rock as a pedal-steel player at the House of God in Newark, New Jersey. Between his jams with John Medeski and the North Mississippi Allstars in 2001 and his 2003 studio debut, Unclassified, he became a minor sensation, bridging the gap between groove merchants and blues enthusiasts. Last year’s third album, We Walk This Road, produced by T Bone Burnett, mixes backwoods gospel-boogie originals, such as “If I Had My Way,” with terrific covers of Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Prince.