News Column

The Slide Brothers call us all to join them Sunday at StageOne

August 22, 2014

By Mark Zaretsky, New Haven Register, Conn.

Aug. 22--FAIRFIELD -- You know how Duane Allman and Dickie Betts of the Allman Brothers Band used to chase each other around on guitar -- or how modern-day Allman Brothers guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks sometimes do that now?

OK, now imagine ALL FOUR OF THEM playing together -- on flat guitars, laid out like ironing boards in front of them.

In church.

Now you're starting to get what you're in for Sunday night. That's when The Slide Brothers -- four of the finest "Sacred Steel" players anywhere -- bring their steel guitars and pedal steel guitars to Fairfield Theatre Company's StageOne.

Showtime is 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $28, available at or by calling 203-259-1036.

The Slide Brothers, introduced to much of America as part of the Experience Hendrix Tour, is a band comprised of four of the best Sacred Steel players on Earth: Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell -- yes, THOSE Campbell Brothers -- and Aubrey Ghent.

Robert Randolph won't be onstage with them.

But they're billed as "Robert Randolph Presents ... The Slide Brothers," bearing the endorsement of their younger, more heavily crossed-over colleague. Randolph is arguably the most commercially successful offshoot of the sacred slide tradition, which is rooted in those Southern country cousins, blues and gospel music.

The pedal steel guitar was introduced by Willie Eason -- Ghent's uncle -- in the 1930s.

Over the years, it somehow has gone from being the traditional instrument generally used in churches that it once was to one that has crept into the blues, Nashville country and Western swing and even roots rock 'n' roll.

The Slide Brothers have been around long enough to watch that happen.

Cooke, considered to be the most influential living pedal steel guitar master and revered in Nashville as "the B.B. King of gospel steel guitar," began learning how to play steel guitar back in 1955 when a member of his family bought him a six-string guitar. But Cooke, a native of Cleveland, found his fingers were too small to play it, so he squeezed the sound he needed out of it by using a knife as a slide.

Eventually, his mother bought him a steel guitar at a pawn shop -- which he still uses, along with a 10-string pedal steel guitar.

For Ghent, the tradition ran in the family, of course, his father also was schooled by Eason. Aubrey Ghent began playing in church at age 9, but he has gone beyond preserving the Sacred Steel tradition to push it out to a broader audience. He is respected for his skills on the lap steel guitar.

Ghent has never left the church tradition and is known in some circles as the "Preaching Deacon," evangelizing through his music while at the same time recording with the likes of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, among others.

Chuck Campbell, from Rush, N.Y., near Rochester, began playing the lap steel guitar at the age of 11 and at 15 became one of the first players to use a pedal steel guitar in the House of God Church. Keith Dominion is known for his innovative approach, using effects such as distortion and "wah-wah" to emulate the human voice.

Darick Campbell, meanwhile, began as a drummer, but later switched to lap steel. He is considered the most emotional player among the Campbell Brothers. The Campbell Brothers have been recording together since the late 1990s and were playing in church for years before that.

Call Mark Zaretsky at 203-789-5722.


Event: The Slide Brothers

When: 7:45 p.m. Sunday

Where: Fairfield Theatre Company's StageOne, 70 Sanford St., Fairfield

Tickets: $28

Info:, 203-259-1036


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Source: New Haven Register (CT)

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