, Salem, MA


October 31, 2013

Sacred steel

Legends of steel guitar bring their music to Larcom Theatre


Cooke places himself in a direct line of sacred steel players that started with Aubrey Ghent’s uncle, Willie Eason.

“He would be No. 1, and they had a line of people that started off with him,” he said. “I would possibly be two, the Campbells would be three, and Robert Randolph would be fifth generation.”

The church these men have all belonged to was founded in the 1930s, grew mostly in the South and eventually split into three congregations.

“The two branches where steel guitar dominated were Jewell Dominion and Keith Dominion,” Cooke said. “We come from the Keith Dominion. One is more jazzed up, on the Jewell side. On the Keith side, it was more Hawaiian style. Each generation got more and more progressive.”

In addition to the gospel he learned at church and the occasional Elmore James, Cooke developed eclectic tastes in contemporary music.

“My cousin introduced me to Yes, because they were so different — to play steel. I would go to their concerts,” he said. “Then, I started branching off into Jimi Hendrix and different people from that era.”

Each of the band members has a unique style, and they take turns playing lead.

“I play with a lot of delayed sound,” Cooke said. “I use a lot of wild sounds in my picking. We all mix it together.”

The Slide Brothers’ combination of steel guitars is unique, Cooke said, and makes each concert a journey for the audience.

“We start rocking it out,” he said, “and bring another flavor they’ve never experienced.”


What: Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers, with Michael Thomas Doyle opening
When: Saturday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7.
Where: Larcom Theatre, 13 Wallis St., Beverly
Tickets & info: Tickets $19, $29, $39 at or call 978-525-9093


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