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Published: 2001/12/16
by James Bailey

Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Go 4 Room, Carrboro, NC- 12/11

SERMON ON THE HILL

It was a cold, rainy night in Chapel Hill, NC but
inside Go Room 4 the triangle's music faithful were
huddled together in a sweaty msss of pure joy. The
reason for this joy was Robert Randolph and the Family
Band's first visit down south. The anticipation was thicker
than the smoke inside the small unique venue and rightly so. The 200 or so inside and the unknown numbers outside who
were shut out of this one, had been waiting way too long for this night to come.

The show began with two dreamy instrumentals
that would prove to serve as an extended introduction
of sorts for the show as a whole. "Salsa" and "Uncle
Ted's Jam" conveyed the melodic potential of both
Randolph's playing and the Pedal Steel itself. "Uncle
Ted's Jam," which has arguably the most beautiful pure
melody of any tune in the Family's repertoire, lingers
like mercury sliding slowly back and forth across a
smooth surface, then melding into itself only to
separate again a moment later. And after getting the
kids nice and greased up with these two stellar
instrumentals, the real preachin' began. Randolph and
company jumped in the pulpit with a crowd frenzying
"The March" telling the crowd that "if you don't wanna
march, the exit is right over there cause you gonna be
in somebody's way!" Needless to say, no one budged and
then proceeded to begin the no holds barred boogying
that wouldn't stop for the next hour and a half. If
you haven't caught Randolph yet, a little warning…If
you're one of those cats who is too cool to dance or
get involved in a little crowd participation watch the
hell out. Robert not only encourages crowd
participation he demands it and if he spies you
planted there like you're standing in front of the
tiger cage at the zoo HE WILL call you out! This isn't
a tennis match people, its an all out revival! Next
in the line-up was "I Feel Like Pressin' My Way"
another crowd pleaser (come to think of it this term
is completely useless when talking about a Family show
cause they're all crowd pleasers) complete with the
usual call and response from Robert and the audience
as well as the always anticipated falsetto vocal
gymnastics of Danyell. A heated "Shake Your Hips"
followed in suit. Next was a "Voodoo Chile" that made
you wonder if Hendrix wrote it with the Pedal Steel in
mind all along. Randolph absolutely tore through this
tune laying waste to everyone in the club.
Closing the set was "I Don't Know What You Came To
Do". We all knew what he had come to do and that was
to relieve Go Room 4 of its funkin' roof! The Encore
was one of Robert's newer tunes "Tears of Joy".
Apparently written during a sound check this summer
the sweet gospel harmony of this one sent us packin'
with our souls filled and our shirts wet.

When the crowd hit the cold wet, street
post-sermon no one seemed to notice the foul December
weather. All that existed was the smiles plastered on
by 3 men and one who is well on his to earning
the label genius.

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