Tim Parsons, tparsons@tahoedailytribune.com

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February 20, 2013
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Rock my soul - Robert Randolph, Slide Brothers bring religion to Crown Room

CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. - Jesus is coming and, man, he is hot.

The sizzling sacred steel sound is featured at Snowlive's Rock Night, played by the genre's greatest star and the players he learned it from.

It took an incredibly fast and good-looking pedal lap steel guitarist, Robert Randolph, to capture the world's attention to the music which, since the 1930s, was only heard in the House of God Church. Shortly after Randolph was discovered, Rolling Stone magazine named him on of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

Willie Eason recorded approximately 18 songs in the 1940s and 1950s, and they received some radio play but it took another half-century for national attention to arrive.

"All of it came alive when he (Randolph) came on the scene," said Aubrey Ghent, the nephew of Willie Eason, the patriarch of sacred steel music. "After he came on they started asking him questions and that let the cat out of the bag. I was playing a little with Robert at that time."

Randolph will perform at Snowlive with the Slide Brothers: Ghent, Calvin Cooke, and brothers Chuck and Darick Campbell. Touted as 80 years in the making, "Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers," the band's debut album was released Tuesday.

Randolph told Lake Tahoe Action in a 2010 interview he grew up listening to Henry Nelson, Chuck and Darick Campbell, Calvin Cooke and Ted Beard in the House of God Church in Florida.

"These guys were basically my Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughans and Jimi Hendrix's to me," Randolph said. "Where all of my stuff came from is these guys. Now having the opportunity to take those guys out on the road with me and really show everybody these are the real-deal dudes, this is where I got it all from, this is such a great treat."

Ghent's father, Henry Nelson, was also schooled by Eason and played sacred steel for more than 50 years, sharing the stage with such gospel singers Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mahalia Jackson.

While Randolph often plays secular music, Ghent remains spiritual. Known as the "Preaching Deacon," Ghent not only recorded with Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, the preacher officiated their marriage ceremony.

The new album is produced by Randolph and includes appearances by the Blind Boys of Alabama, Shemekia Copeland and Billy Cox, who played bass with Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsies.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Feb 20, 2013 06:14PM Published Feb 20, 2013 06:11PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.