There are good concerts, and then there are memorable ones. I’ve been to a fair number of concerts in my lifetime (probably close to 100 or so of all varieties — rock, jazz, classical, blues — but easily one of the top three concerts I’ve ever been in attendance of happened about six years ago. There they were: Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
I was a student at the University of Florida. I had heard of Robert Randolph and the Family Band, liked one of their songs (“I need more love”), and heard they were coming to the Alligator Rocks club. My photographer-friend was covering the concert for the local paper, and I asked her to talk to the bouncer to get me and my buddy Wes in for free. Access granted.
Alligator Rocks held maybe 100 or so comfortably, so it was a nice, intimate crowd that got, well, loud. And pumped. At that time, Robert Randolph just got selected to Rolling Stones‘ 100 greatest guitarist of all time (if memory serves me right, he was #97). So the concert was touted as a chance to see one of the greatest living guitarist. Boy, did we.
Robert is the first pedal steel guitarist I’ve ever seen live. And I think it might be difficult to find one much better. It’s one thing to see a great show, and it’s another to hear talented musicians. We got to do both that night. Wes and I even got to meet Robert after the concert. We were just walking to our car when we ran into him going to his tour bus. He was still coming off the high of the concert, telling us this concert was almost as good as the one he did at the Wetlands (where the band recorded a live CD). I don’t remember much of the chance encounter, but I remember Robert being one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people I’ve met. I think he was wearing a red Sixers jersey for the concert, and Wes and I innocently asked him if he was from Philly. “Nah,” he said. “I’m from Jersey.”
We got his autograph, and he called me “sweetie” a few times, and that’s pretty much all I remember. Oh, except we caught a glimpse of the inside of his tour bus and about five or six blondes from the concert crowd made their way in the bus…
Fast forward to today, six years later, and I got to finally see Robert Randolph and the Family Band again. They were headlining the Riverwalk Blues and Music Festival here in downtown Fort Lauderdale. I just got home from the concert. ‘Twas amazing. No surprise. And, the best part was I got to meet Robert all over again. Below’s some visual proof of the excitement.