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Robert Randolph & The Family Band at The Black Sheep show preview 

click to enlarge Robert Randolph & The Family Band, with Stray Suns and Audible, Sunday, Dec. 30, 7 p.m., blacksheeprocks.com. - J.A. DUNBAR / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
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  • Robert Randolph & The Family Band, with Stray Suns and Audible, Sunday, Dec. 30, 7 p.m., blacksheeprocks.com.
Robert Randolph did not invent sacred steel music — the musical tradition originated in Southern Pentecostal churches back in the 1930s — but he’s definitely been responsible for reviving its popularity over the past two decades. Growing up in New Jersey, Randolph was barely aware of music outside the gospel tradition. In fact, he was still playing his 13-string pedal steel guitar in church, punctuating the preacher’s sermons and congregants’ testimonials, when he was recruited by jazz organist John Medeski for a 2001 jam project with the North Mississippi Allstars. A year later, his newly formed Robert Randolph & The Family Band released their debut album, a live recording that was as much influenced by Robert Johnson as it was Thomas A. Dorsey. Today, at the age of 41, he’s earned a reputation as “The Jimi Hendrix of steel guitar,” racked up five Grammy nominations, and become a mainstay on the jam-band circuit. The opportunity to see this festival headliner in an intimate club setting may not come again, so take advantage of it while you can.

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