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Robert Randolph & the Family Band

A Conversation with Robert Randolph (continued)

PM: We always feel that our interview subjects are uniquely revealed when they talk a little bit about their cronies. Would you give us a little bit on each of the Family Band guys?

RR: Oh, well, with Danyel, he plays the bass, and he's a singer and ultimate musician, and he's a great guy.

PM: Is he a blood cousin?

RR: Yeah. And Marcus Randolph, he keeps the tempo and keeps us all going, through the record and while playing a show and whatnot. And John Ginty, I met him some years ago. He added that kind of gospel style organ a lot of people are familiar with.

PM: Where did you run into Ginty and his playing?

RR: In New Jersey. When we started out playing in some small bars there, he came along and started playing, and it sounded good.

PM: He's a hell of a B-3 guy.

RR: Yeah. He plays it really good, like soul stuff.

PM: Yeah. I saw that Neal Casal [a U.S. singer songwriter who found a strong following in Europe] is singing some backing vocals on the record. Is he an old Jersey friend?

RR: Yeah. We met him--it's like the same story. We met him somewhere along playing in Jersey. So I've known him probably the last four or five years.

PM: Ah, so he was there before you really got anywhere yet.

RR: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Uh-huh. He's on some of my early demos, he sang with us.

PM: Wow. Yeah, he's a really talented cat.

RR: Yeah.

PM: What are you reading lately and what are you listening to?

RR: Listening to some Led Zeppelin.

PM: Crazy.

RR: Some Ray Charles, his old stuff.

PM: That's an excellent mix.

RR: Yeah, I'm listening to all old music, man. But actually, there's this European singer, she made a record. A lot of people know about it, but it was a strange record that I picked up. Her name is Julie Mancini.

PM: And you're listening to that.

RR: Yeah, yeah. She's a guitarist and singer. I just picked this record up, and she's awesome. I forget what label it's on. But it was just something strange, like I just saw a woman playing a guitar, and it just said "Julie" on it, on the CD, and I just picked it up and listened to it. It was amazing. There's a song on there, I'm ready to record it probably for the next record.

PM: No kidding!

RR: Yeah.

PM: Well, that's how we've found some of our favorite artists, we're turned onto them by other artists in interviews. And so, yeah, we'll look up Julie Mancini, see if we can find her stuff.

RR: See if you can hook it up, man. You should be able to find it. I remember somebody explained to me that I guess it was probably never really released over here. It was a European kind of thing.

PM: I was first told about you a couple of years ago by my friend Steve Kimock. Have you guys done a gig together? Do you know his music?

RR: Yeah, I know his music, yeah. He's really awesome.

PM: He was the first guy to say, "Oh, you got to get onto Robert Randolph, man." [see our interview with Steve] And so I'm happy now that--it's been a year and a half but we're finally on the phone with you.

[Robert was driving, and we'd started to have some cell phone issues, a series of callbacks and all that.]

RR: Hey, I'm calling you from another phone now.

PM: Okay, beautiful. I did an interview with your friends the North Mississippi Allstars, yesterday on their bus. They were talking good about you.

RR: Oh, yeah, those guys are great, man. I mean, the first time I ever played a show was opening up for those guys a couple years ago. So cool, man, they can get it tight.

PM: And what an unbelievably nice pair of brothers they are.

RR: Truly.

PM: So we're going to get the Allstars and the Family Band on the next cover together, because those two bands belong together, don't they?

RR: [laughs] Yeah. We actually play a lot of shows together too, so... We tour a lot, and that's basically how the Family Band got started, opening shows for those guys.

PM: Wow.

RR: So that's how it goes. And their new record is coming out too, in a couple weeks.

PM: Yeah, Polaris, that's an amazing record. Have you heard the advance yet or anything?

RR: Yeah, I heard it.

PM: Yeah, you heard it. I love the pop tunes on that record.

RR: [laughs]

PM: It's interesting the corner they're turning there. [see our interview with the Dickinson brothers in this issue]

RR: Yeah.

PM: It's really cool. continue

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