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Three Trails Music Series: The Campbell Brothers
July 28, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
“The Campbell Brothers play music that until recently was heard only in gospel churches, with pedal steel guitar lines swooping skyward like a gospel shouter; two Campbell brothers trade off leads, carrying the songs to peak after peak.”
– Jon Pareles, New York Times
“This man [Chuck Campbell] is the Jimi Hendrix and the Django Reinhardt of the steel guitar….”
– Andy Griggs, Real Blues
The Campbell Brothers present a compelling, rich variety of material from the African-American Holiness-Pentecostal repertoire with a new twist: the growling, wailing, shouting, singing and swinging voice of the steel guitar, played as you have never heard it played before.
The Campbell Brothers, whose father is a bishop, grew up in churches where steel guitars replaced organs, a style known as Sacred Steel. Every Sunday they played for church services, where they were admonished to “play the word.” This tradition, including electrifying vocals, is just now emerging from the House of God Keith Dominion Church, where for over sixty years it has been an integral part of worship and a vital, if little known, American tradition. As the music moves from sanctuary to concert hall — including the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music and Symphony Space — secular audiences are now able to appreciate a performance both devoted and rocking. The Campbell Brothers excellence has been well-recognized in the music community, with the Real Blues Awards bestowing a Best U.S. Gospel Instrumentals of the Year award and the Indie Awards handing them a Best Gospel Album statuette. Too, pedal-steel guitarist Chuck Campbell is a 2004 National Heritage Fellowship Recipient for his contributions in preserving the heritage of African-American music.
Chuck Campbell began playing the lap steel guitar at the age of 12. At the age of 17 he became one of the first players to utilize the Pedal Steel guitar in the House of God Church, Keith Dominion. Chuck is renowned for his innovative approach to the instrument both technically and musically. His use of effects such as distortion, the wah pedal and his picking techniques enable him to emulate the human voice in an uncanny fashion, which evokes images of gospel moaning and field singing. Early in his career Chuck became recognized for becoming the first steel player to be accomplished in the Sacred Steel styles of Calvin Cooke, Ted Beard and Henry Nelson when most steel players could only play in one! Chuck’s inventive blending of those methods along with his ground breaking use of complex chords and fast picking formed the musical style which is the most emulated among young Sacred Steel players today. Rounding out the band, which has been together for over two decades, is Chuck’s lap steel-playing brother, Darick, a high-energy rhythm section featuring brother Phil Campbell on electric guitar and his son Carlton on drums, and powerhouse Katie Jackson, delivering classic, gutsy gospel vocals.