By Maria Wyllie
Explore Big Sky Associate Editor

BIG SKY – The Arts Council of Big Sky on June 26 is kicking off its free concert series with a high-energy, celebratory performance by the Slide Brothers who are considered the greatest living musicians of the Sacred Steel tradition.

A uniquely American art form unspoiled by commercialism, the Sacred Steel tradition developed within the Keith and Jewell Dominions of the Pentecostal Church in the 1930s as a way to mimic African-American singing and shouting voices that brought the congregation together.

Consisting of Calvin Cooke, Aubrey Ghent, Chuck Campbell and Darick Campbell, the quartet is endorsed by Robert Randolph, the genre’s most famous practitioner. Although the men all grew up playing within church walls, they have embraced “the philosophy that traditional gospel and secular music should not be divided, but celebrated,” according to an All Music review of the band’s most recent album, Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers.

Extending far beyond Sacred Steel, the band’s sound encompasses blues, rock, soul and funk. After decades spent residing in church communities, the genre has crossed into the mainstream, appealing to secular and devout audiences alike.

“I want to take this musical history and make it relevant to give people a better idea of who we are and where this tradition came from,” said Randolph, who also aims to help bridge the cultural gap between the young and old, according to the Slide Brothers’ website.

This summer’s free music series consists of 12 free events, including the fourth annual Big Sky Classical Music Festival, all held at Center Stage at Town Center Park. Visit bigskyarts.org for a complete schedule.