Many musicians claim that they “grew up in the church,” but for Robert Randolph, that literally is the case. The renowned pedal steel guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter had such a cloistered childhood and adolescence that he heard no secular music while growing up. Which makes it all the more remarkable that the leader of Robert Randolph and the Family Band - whose label debut for Sony Masterworks, Got Soul, was released on 17 Feb. 2017 - is now an inspiration to the likes of Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, and Derek Trucks, all of whom have played with him and studied his technique.
The Family Band’s improvisational skills quickly made them mega-popular with the jam band crowd, but for Randolph and his bandmates, what they were doing was just an extension of what they’d always done: “The jam band scene has that name, but it’s really just a place for a truly musical art form where you can just be who you are,” Randolph says. “So we do fit in that category in some sense, but the jam band scene itself has changed a lot since that time. I’ve grown to like certain songs, and when I do, I like to jam within them.”
On Got Soul, Robert Randolph and the Family Band do so deftly, displaying their virtuosity all through a dozen smartly crafted tunes. “I like both playing live and recording,” says Randolph. “The thing about a record is that you get a chance to rehearse parts and fine-tune things. But if you look at most great music artists, people like Stevie Wonder, the recorded song is totally different from the show. When you’re in the studio, with no audience, it’s hard to improvise. But for us, well, we’ve been playing in front of audiences our whole lives.”
Robert’s Got Soul tour is already underway, and he told us that he’s using the MTP 550 DM performance microphone onstage: “I’m singing through the awesome MTP 550 DM, which gives me all the great vocal sounds and makes me sound five times better than I’m actually singing. It gives me all those different directional options, and it compresses really great when you’re yelling into it and kind of really going hard on it; it’s great, and it’s much easier to EQ than a lot of other microphones. So it’s just really awesome. I’m excited about this microphone, and LEWITT’s going to be a game changer for a lot of people.”