Monday, March 02, 2015

The Campbell Brothers' Love Supreme


February 26, 2015

   The 'sacred steel' sounds of the Campbell Brothers transformed the post-modern Walker Art Center's McGuire Theater into the Gospel according to John Coltrane last Thursday evening. Steel guitars are the "weird uncle" of the guitar family, their emotive and sometimes otherworldly cries can reach places in a listener's subconscious that are usually the province of vocalists, violinists, and theremin players. The Campbell Brothers are the world's foremost practitioners of this esoteric discipline. When they set out to interpret John Coltrane's masterpiece A Love Supreme, music aficionados took notice.

   This was a refreshingly honest concert: no light shows, costumes or other gimmicks, just the Brothers and the music they love. Even the sound was unaugmented, although the amplifiers and drums were being miked, it was for a radio simulcast, not for the PA system. Starting off with a few of their 'hits', a captivating groove was set from the beginning, Wade in the Water, Hell No, Heaven Yes, and an emotional rendition of Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come. The centerpiece of the show was, of course, A Love Supreme, nearly forty minutes of inspired play/worship. Transcendent at times, driven by Phillip Campbell's driving chords and his son Carl's inventive drumming and the soaring sounds of Chuck and Darrick's steel playing. It isn't often that such merging of styles is so seamlessly integrated. Bassist Daric Bennett was exemplary as well, holding down the groove with a minimal style, yet also opening up on an extended solo.

   A welcome break from the midwinter blahs, a restorative for mind and spirit.

By Professor Batty



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