The funky musical lineup Friday, Dec. 28, at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe might make New Year’s Eve feel anticlimatic.In a rare doubleheader in the venerable South Shore Room, Robert Randolph & the Family Band and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe will perform. Lake Tahoe Action’s 2012 Band of the Year, Jelly Bread, plays the after-party on the casino floor at Harrah’s Center Stage.The South Shore Room show begins at 7 p.m.Randolph will make his first Tahoe appearance in nearly two years.It was both a blessing and a burden to Randolph in 2003 to be named by Rolling Stone one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. “I actually had to get better real fast,” Randolph told Lake Tahoe Action before his last appearance here. “Now I know that I can’t take a day off because all of the guitar heads want to really see what I can do.” The upside was greater opportunities for him and his band to share the sacred steel sound with more audiences. “It allowed people to really go and get into me and into the history of where I come from and really go back and look at some of the sacred steel recordings,” he said. To take a look a sacred steel means taking a trip to church. The pedal steel guitar music comes from the House of God Church, which was formed nearly 90 years ago. When it’s time for jubilee, singers and pedal steel guitar and drums lead the way. Randolph calls them church jams. “I had the opportunity to watch in my lifetime guys like Henry Nelson and Ted Beard, Chuck and Darin Campbell and Calvin Cook,” Randolph said. “These guys were basically my Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughans and Jimi Hendrixes to me. This is where all of my stuff came.” Randolph first learned the lap steel guitar before learning pedal steel. Then he learned traditional guitar. His band, which is mostly comprised of his brothers, sisters and cousins, began recording in 2001. His sound has been described as a combination of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Sly and the Family Stone. It’s rooted in gospel, and the lyrics are uplifting. Robert Randolph and the Family Band are embraced at jam band festivals. “The jam band fans gravitate toward us because we like to stretch songs out, but also there’s that spirituality and sense of love and hope and happiness,” Randolph said. “Now every festival we go to, people come to us and go ‘We want to be uplifted today. We’ve been at this festival and we’ve been drinking and smoking and sinning all weekend and we can’t wait to be uplifted.’ ”
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