Robert Randolph/Soulive | 12.27 | Philly

Words by: Martin Halo | Images by: Rod Snyder

Robert Randolph & The Family Band/Soulive:: 12.27.08 :: Electric Factory :: Philadelphia, PA

Eric Krasno - Soulive :: 12.28 :: Philly
Philadelphia glistened in the night sky as the waning moments of 2008 approached. She illuminated the Delaware Water Gap along the waterfront. The city was still, but the corner of Willow and 7th stirred with the emotion of steel driven boogie as Philadelphia moistened in the Stax inspired, funk-laden, groove of the New York based Soulive.

Fronted by guitarist Eric Krasno, founder of the instrumental project back in 1999, he and the Evans brothers have been dipping in and out of the trio formation ever since. Holding down the groove, as always, was the tight Afro sportin' drummer Alan Evans. With his head thrown back, eyes closed and lips tucked, he bounced beats off the Factory walls in a stiff funk manner. The immediate focus was on Evans, but quickly the ear gravitated toward Krasno's phrasing. His hands spoke with licks of musical upheaval that bopped off his hollow body. The addition of a brass duo further solidified the crowd in rhythm churning exuberance. The performance included selections from Next (2002) with "Tuesday Night's Squad," Doin' Something (2001) with "One In Seven" and "El Ron" from the band's live recording.

With an hour in the tank and a few righteous organ solos by Neal Evans, the stage was prepared in the late evening for Robert Randolph to work the house. The performance at the Electric Factory immediately caught me up after the last time I crossed paths with Randolph. It was his birthday back in Jersey during the summer of '07 and Randolph was celebrating with the Dickinson brothers of the North Mississippi Allstars. The Philadelphia performance was strictly a Family Band affair. The only thing missing seemed to be Jason Crosby, who departed from the project in the interim.

Robert Randolph :: 12.28 :: Philly
Randolph emerged into the spotlight at around 11:15 p.m. sporting a classic black vest and red shirt, with his band decked in sport jerseys. Randolph once joked in an interview while traveling on Route 22 near his home in New Jersey, "People see pictures of us and think we're rappers!" Those in attendance at the Electric Factory, however, knew exactly what they were there for. Randolph is a howlin' pedal steel wrangler that showcases vintage, church-grown boogie. A musical community nestled just west of the Hudson River Valley is where Randolph got his start in a church in Orange, New Jersey before moving to Colonial Morristown. This holiday tour leg led the lap picker through the old colonies before a New Year's Eve performance in the nation's capital.

"Love Is The Only Way," an uplifting number off 2006's Colorblind, kicked off the set. The audience began to move to his Saturday evening sermon under Ben Franklin's pipe. With licks inspired by Ted Beard and Calvin Cook, Randolph mixed the classic church pedal steel style with the movements of Stevie Ray Vaughn and Hendrix. "I wanted to learn how to play the pedal steel like Steve Ray played the guitar," he said back in 2006.

His feet shuffled the setlist on the floor during an instrumental jam session marked simply as "More Love." A simple nod to the sound tech increased the monitor volume with Randolph jazzed in the moment. Randolph's sister was on hand to belt out some serious gospel, though at times Crosby's absence was noticeable.

Robert Randolph :: 12.28 :: Philly
"Deliver Me," another off Colorblind, preceded a medley to the late Bo Diddley. The covers continued with a rendition of Slim Harpo's "Hip Shake," which brought a flood of audience members onto the stage before leading into "Thrill of It." Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno joined the Family Band for the set's middle portion, which further increased the audiences' buzz. For the first time in a long time, a younger beatnik gentleman with business-like glasses randomly walked up to me and asked, "Do you wanna' smoke some dope?" I laughed as a girl by his side started to giggle. Usually it's the start of a friendship, but not with this guy.

The performance lasted a full two hours before drawing to a close around 1 a.m. In conclusion, let's just lay it out straight: Randolph is a world-class musician with a lack of clear, memorable originals. This performance came in a close second to the smiling faces of the young women scattered throughout the venue. No lie, probably the most knee-weakening crowd I have seen in quite a long time. Philadelphia, I will be sure to show up on your doorstep with a dozen roses next time!

Continue reading for more pics of Soulive and Robert Randolph in Philly...


Robert Randolph & The Family Band

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Trippy14 star Mon 1/12/2009 01:07PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Terrible review! The article was nothing but a glorified set list. And the last few statements about turning down some smoke and the abundance of hot girls...give me a break. You sound like a 17 year old who can't smoke a joint or else he'll be suspended from the basketball team.

ThatFullSound Mon 1/12/2009 01:49PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Agreed^^. Weak article. Soulive was awesome in Boston's Paradise Club for New Years, and Randolph's live performance are crowd-engaging. I bet this show kicked more ass then Mr. Martin let on... maybe he should'a hit it.

MyFavBandIsTheBestYoursSucks starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/12/2009 01:56PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great double bill, They should do a tour together.

moemoe6434 Mon 1/12/2009 02:33PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I agree, not a great review.... I thought this was funny:

"let's just lay it out straight: Randolph is a world-class musician with a lack of clear, memorable originals.......... the smiling faces of the young women scattered throughout the venue. No lie, probably the most knee-weakening crowd I have seen in quite a long time. "

You remember the hot girls but not the songs?

pornofunk starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/12/2009 02:53PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


RR + SOulive = musical bliss

-this must have been a great show regaurdless of the review or lack there of....

URTH2URTH starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/12/2009 03:00PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


does soulive still play with the singer? i love soulive but thought the singer tied them down a bit musically. he's a good singer but soulive is so tight instrumental.

peaton Mon 1/12/2009 03:20PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


to answer your I think they experimented with Touissant as their lead singer for an album and like you said, he's a good singer, but he just didn't fit in with what soulive fans love the best. They did, however, use a horn section, including Sam Kininger, who were tight as hell and really helped Soulive step it up.

Ching starstarstar Mon 1/12/2009 04:52PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

check out THE LEE BOYS...good sacred steel. RR used to watch the lee family as a kid

solace_in_diesel Mon 1/12/2009 07:06PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Very short, shitty review that doesn't even go in depth for RR's set, let alone mention anything played in Soulive's set (Or even mention the fact that Daniella Cotton played).

And the girls who cam on stage were on average a 5.6. Really, nothing special. I heard a middle aged woman ask after the show 'Why'd they have the ugliest girls in the house come on stage?'

MartinHalo Mon 1/12/2009 08:42PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Ouch!!! I'm actually surprisingly pleased ya read it though! I will have to take a little more care next time, win some of ya nay-sayers back. I was fully under the impression it is all about checking out some images and commenting "Biscuits F'in RULE!" All joking aside, come on, ya seen one Randolph show, ya seen them all. Thats a fact. As far as the girls... was anyone up along the upstairs bar? That blonde waitress with the shoulder length hair... im a sucker for the really warm-hearted sweet ones.

Ointment starstarstarstarstar Mon 1/12/2009 08:57PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i was at this show, first time i've ever heard of soullive whom r extremely dope, i'll definitely never miss them again when they come through philly. robert randolph was amazing as usual. i was downstairs so i didn't really notice an excess of hot chicks

louie1827 Tue 1/13/2009 07:09AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I'd rather see soulive all night long. RR + family are good musicians but dont get me too excited, though this review doesnt go into much depth about what the show was actually like

brendan3 Tue 1/13/2009 08:33AM
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RR + the Family band kicks ass, so there.

ihob420 starstar Tue 1/13/2009 09:22AM
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Yeah, pretty meager review. It doesn't seem like RR & the Family Band do anything new anymore. I've been to a number of different shows and wanted to catch the 12/26 show in Poughkeepsie but didn't have a ride. Like one commenter said you've seen one show, you've seen them all. I would have really liked to see Soulive though. Please tell me RR will come out with some new material soon?

johnnygoff starstarstarstar Tue 1/13/2009 11:56AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


this is one time I really don't think a "meager review" as many of you put it, really does much to affect how anyone thinks/thought of soulive and/or robert randolph.

chew on this though: In 2008, ERic Krasno and Robert Randolph combined probably sat-in w/ as guest The Most with top-notch musicians/bands than any other guitarists (slide or regular)....

both are incredible.

Lastly, Kraz deserves every shred of notoriety he gets recently, but Alan and Neil Evans deserves A HELLUVA LOT MORE INK / E-INK THAN THEY'VE BEEN GETTING. Big Ups to the EVans Bro's.

gimmemusic star Fri 1/16/2009 03:06PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I knew we were in for trouble when the writer eluded to the Delaware Water Gap illuminated by the waterfront (...of what, Philly & Camden??) Ah, the Gap's a bit further upstream and noticable by rock shears of the mountains carved by the river.

The Water Gap is truely a beautiful place, just like the place Robert Randolph, Soulive, Lettuce, the Royal Family and all good music can take you, when you listen.

Next time, smoke what's passed, enjoy, open z mind (& ears) and respect others, esp the ladies.