Sacred steel sliding back to BSAF
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Thursday, 05 September 2013 11:50
Sacred Steel (Photo: Brad Gregory)
Black Swamp Arts Festival fans were converted to a belief in the beauty of Sacred Steel back in 2005 when Calvin Cooke, an elder in the genre, played a Sunday afternoon.
Since then Cooke has returned to town several times. The festival has also hosted The Campbell Brothers and most recently Sacred Steel upstarts The Lee Boys.
This year promises a Sacred Steel summit session when The Slide Brothers hit the stage.
The band features a foursome of steel guitar — Cooke, Darick and Chuck Campbell and one of the legends of the music, Aubrey Ghent, the nephew of the style’s founder, Willie Eason, who with his brother Troman brought the steel guitar into the church in the 1930s.
The band was assembled by Sacred Steel’s biggest star, Robert Randolph, but having these musicians play together is nothing new. They’ve been jamming the gospel at House of God conventions for years.
Still Ghent said getting them all together in this ensemble “brought about a special spiritual feeling.”
Ghent said in a recent telephone interview from Nashville, Tenn. That his friendship with Cooke goes back to the early 1960s.
Slide guitar, Cooke told the Sentinel before his 2005 appearance, was a more Hawaiian style steel sound at first.
Ghent and Cooke were among the young generation, who were incorporating more popular rhythms and harmonies into the church’s music.
It was a sound that appealed not just to the Church of God faithful, but to secular listeners of all stripes. The elders were jealous of the attention. Ghent said when he was a youngster he couldn’t play outside at school assemblies and such. “That’s the way of my parents,” he said. “When I was kid they were really strict.”
He’d started playing at 6, and it was his grandfathers, both deeply involved in the ministry who bought him his first lap steel.
His talent was discovered by those outside the church in 1992. He was in a Miami music store to try out the instruments.   “I messed around with it and they discovered they could I could play,” Ghent said.
Soon he was playing festivals and shows throughout the state.
The Slide Brothers, following the path blazed by Randolph, Ghent, Cooke and the Campbells, have taken the music to major international music festivals. The Slide Brothers appeared on the Experience Hendrix Tour, and covered a couple of the rock guitarist’s classics. Those aren’t in the band’s regular repertoire, Ghent said. “It was for that time.”
Instead the band focuses on its core repertoire of rousing hymnody that for decades they’ve been rocking for the Lord. The Slide Brothers perform Saturday at 6:20 p.m. on the Main Stage and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on the Family Stage.

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