Growing up and watching slide blues guitarists perform at his church in Orange, N.J., was Robert Randolph's first exposure to music.
"It was something seeing guys like Carl Cook do their thing," Randolph said by phone from Nashville. "When I got into my 20s, I latched on the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan. I mean, that man went from being just a blues player to becoming one of the most influential guitarists of his time."
So, when Randolph decided to make his own music with the Family Band — bassist Danyel Morgan, drummer Marcus Randolph (Robert's cousin) and keyboardist Jason Crosby — he knew what kind of music he wanted to play. "Uplifting and positive, with hooks of gospel and blues was my goal.
"There are some young artists out there that don't have anything good to say. And I didn't want to do that. I wanted to have a message. And it helped that I was raised going to church. What my music is supposed to do is give people who didn't have the chance to attend services get a taste of the spirit."
That's not saying that Robert Randolph & the Family Band is a Christian band. He likes to consider himself as being in a band that has a positive message that's wrapped around good steel-slide guitar blues. "The songs are to give people hope. The song on the new album ('Colorblind') called 'Deliver Me' is about a guy crying out for help before he hits rock bottom. He's out there doing all kinds of stuff and recognizes that he needs help just before he sticks the needle in his arm. There's another song called 'Blessed' that tells it how it is with us and the band."
The band leader looks back at the "Colorblind" recording sessions with fondness. "We had more time on this one. We didn't have a lot of time on the last album (2003's 'Unclass'). We basically went into the studio and just pounded an album out. This time, we had some time to plan what we wanted to do."
Randolph also collaborated with songwriters Tommy Sims, Jeff Trott and Mark Baton, who have written for Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow and the Dave Matthews Band, respectively. "I was able to hook up with them because we toured with Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and the Dave Matthews Band. And sitting down to talk with Eric, Carlos and Dave about life and songwriting helped me out with how to craft a song.
"So when I got in touch with those songwriters, we would hang out and tell stories. You know, we took some time to get to know each other. And then we would write and write until we came up with something. It was cool."
Now that Randolph & the Family Band has progressed as far as songwriting and performing goes, the next step is to sell records. "That's what we're going to focus on. We've got a message to the people and it's positive and uplifting. We feel it will benefit the the world."
If you go
What: Robert Randolph & the Family Band
Where: In the Venue, 219 S. 600 West
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
How much: $20
Phone: 467-8499 or 800-888-8499