, Salem, MA


October 31, 2013

Sacred steel

Legends of steel guitar bring their music to Larcom Theatre


In addition to Cooke, the group includes Aubrey Ghent and two actual brothers, Chuck and Darick Campbell.

With Cooke providing vocals, they play songs with a range of spiritual and secular messages.

Their album opens with an Allman Brothers tune, “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” and includes “The Sky is Crying” by blues guitarist Elmore James.

“My family introduced me to Elmore James when we were small, when we would have a barbecue or fish fry,” Cooke said. “It sounded like steel guitar to them, and they would tell me to learn that piece”

“Praise You” has strong gospel roots, while a version of George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” breaks into testifying that recalls a minister and his congregation.

“We’ve been doing it so long, it just becomes a natural thing for us when we play,” Cooke said.

Cooke has written a song on the album, “Help Me Make It Through,” that could be either a prayerful relationship or a romantic one.

“When I’m alone I need someone to talk to / I need someone just to see me through ... Lord I need you / Now and forever more / help me make it through,” he sings.

While the Slide Brothers enjoy sharing the spirit that is the source of their music, they’re not trying to push a religious point of view.

“I don’t want to tell you I’m right / I don’t want to tell you you’re wrong,” Cooke sings on “Sunday School Blues.” “I don’t want to tell you anything / I’m just trying to sing my song.”

Cooke was born in Cleveland but moved to Detroit, where he worked as a janitor at Chrysler for 31 years before being laid off. His mother bought his first steel guitar at a pawn shop, because his hands couldn’t reach around the neck of a regular guitar.

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