By Michael Henningsen
Good God Almighty!
Outpost Ends its Spring Season with Gospel and Blues
As God and just about everyone in the Western world relish the seventh day as one of rest, televised sports, worship and/or yard work, brothers Chuck and Darick Campbell of the Campbell Brothers are hard at work. With the former on pedal steel and the latter on lap steel, the Campbell Brothers (also featuring brother Phil on guitar, his son Carlton on drums and gospel vocalists Denise Brown and Katie Jenkins) turn traditional African American gospel tunes into works of divinity—combining otherworldly energy and miracle talent to achieve a degree of spirituality through music few will ever achieve by any means. This is no average blues-gospel band. The Campbell Brothers, as the deeply religious occasionally say, are touched.
Now for the secular references. Chuck Campbell has been called the Jimi Hendrix and Django Reinhardt of the pedal steel, and both comparisons are accurate. Like Hendrix and Reinhardt, there's something utterly inexplicable about the way Campbell is able to express emotion through an inanimate musical instrument. Likewise, though in a more understated sense, Darick Campbell possesses the same level of divinity on lap steel. On their latest album, the live in-church Sacred Steel On Tour (Arhoolie), the ensemble sound literally possessed by the Spirit.
On the same, albeit less religious, spectrum, acoustic blues legend Rory Block works her magic in the tradition of classic folk blues. Her Son House/John Hurt-inflected blues are just as emotional and spiritual in their own way as that of the Campbell Brothers. Her trademark fingerpicking and slide techniques are among the most finely tuned in the business, as evidenced on her latest release, Last Fair Deal (Telarc). Block's been a master of the acoustic blues since the ripe old age of 15, and since then has continued to explore the hinterlands outside the boundaries of folk and country blues with unparalleled skill and grace.
Back-to-back concerts by the Campbells and Block will make this the ultimate season closer in Outpost history.
The Campbell Brothers (tickets $20 general, $15 Outpost members) will appear Friday, May 28, and Rory Block (tickets $18 general, $13 Outpost members) will perform the following night, Saturday, May 29, at the Outpost Performance Space. Call 268-0044 for more information.
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