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Guitar gods ain't what they used to be. In fact, Eric Clapton, who WAS God for many years, has become such a personable, avuncular mensch over the past two decades that you feel sort of cheap boosting his chops over his singing, which peaked on "Layla" anyway. Still, it seems only fitting that Robert Randolph, maybe the most acclaimed rock guitarist of the 00s except for Derek Trucks, plays steel guitar and learned it in the service of gospel, effectively putting God back in His musical place as inspiration rather than enabler.

By his second album in 2003, Randolph and his Family Band had made the full jump with both feet into the broader rock and funk arena, and the landing was true and hard. For sheer technical energy, it was difficult to beat. Even Randolph's hero, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, couldn't touch it in terms of variety and expansiveness. And in concert, Randolph is a monster--his singing a full-throated gospel wail, and every bit as exciting as his playing. And he's a killer dancer, too. As trite as it may sound, Randolph really is the Hendrix of so-called "sacred steel," meaning his concerts are not just exciting, they're transcendent. It seems sort of a waste that he isn't playing on Sunday.