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When he's 64
"He's like, let's make songs you'll be singing for the next 30 years of your life," says Randolph, who's Family Band is touring in support of We Walk This Road, now available on Warner Bros. Records.
They are in town tomorrow, opening for the Zac Brown Band at the Save Mart Center.
Randolph has made a name for himself, playing a wild mix of funk, rock and soul — what he describes as Jimi Hendrix sitting in with Sly and the Family Stone out in the churchyard.
He's been listed among Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time and was nominated for a Grammy for his collaboration with The Clark Sisters. In 2006, the band was hand-picked to tour with Eric Clapton, but have toured with young guys too, like The Roots, Pharrell Williams and John Mayer.
So the guy has some cred.
What Burnett gave him was a musical education. For close to two years, Randolph and Burnett worked closely as archivists, discovering songs — decade by decade. Randolph spent close to $5,000 on iTune downloads, getting deep the history of American roots music. He discovered guys like Blind Willie Johnson and Howling Wolf, uncovered blues and rock, field recordings and gospel.
"He [Burnett] wanted to spark my musical brain. And mission accomplished," Randolph says.
Stylistically, his music has always been diverse, informed by an upbringing in the House of God church, where he started playing the pedal steel at 14 or 15. There were the requisite hymns of course, but people got up and danced around too, so he was exposed to different musical styles. People would tell him that a certain thing he played sounded just like the Allman Brothers — only he didn't know who they were.
Burnett helped him tie those styles together, to see the links between the past and the present and to play with them to create something new, but also timeless.
Along the way, he got help from others, guys like Leon Russell, Robbie Roberston and Robert Plant, who heard about what was happening in the studio.
"They just wanted to come by and hang," Randolph says. Russell and Ben Harper make guest appearances on the album.
"It was just so much fun. I've gotten better just by hanging out with these great musicians," he says.