Justly famous on the chitlin’ circuit for his combustible blending of funk and down-home blues, Bobby Rush is back now with a tangy concoction that blends Bayou State spices. Check out an advance track from Down in Louisiana, due February 19, 2013 from Thirty Tigers-Deep Rush Productions.
Rush, still a feisty figure at 77, has earned multiple Blues Music Awards over a career that stretches back to the 1960s and appearances with the likes of Muddy Waters. Along the way, he has recorded an eye-popping 100 albums, all while working a seemingly endless number of nights along the highways and byways of the Deep South, playing in the same kind of clubs, VFW halls and jukes that legendary figures like Bessie Smith, Ray Charles and Cab Calloway played in before him.
Down in Louisiana finds Rush working in a lean, nervy environment, in particular when compared with his work for Mississippi’s Malaco Records, the pre-eminent label for soul-blues in the 1980s and ’90s. Recording with his touring keyboardist and producer Paul Brown, Rush began these songs with just a guitar, and kept things simple.
The Homer, Louisiana native is joined by Brown, Pete Mendillo on drums, Lou Rodriguez on guitar and Terry Richardson, Rush’s longtime bassist. In many ways, Down in Louisiana recalls the sides Rush heard after his family moved to Chicago in the early 1950s. He says he later worked as an errand-runner for Elmore James, got guitar lessons from Howlin’ Wolf and traded licks with harmonica legend Little Walter.
By 1971, he had fine-tuned his funky approach, scoring an R&B Top 40 hit with “Chicken Heads.” He subsequently relocated to Mississippi, and began recording and touring at a furious pace. His commitment to craft was later highlighted in “The Road to Memphis,” part of the PBS series ‘Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues’ back in 2003. That same year, the multi-instrumentalist created Deep Rush, his own label.
Since, Rush has issued nine albums through that imprint, beginning with 2003′s Live at Ground Zero and also including the solo project Raw, in 2007. His 2011 effort Show You a Good Time earned best soul blues album honors at last year’s BMAs.
“But no matter how much I cross over, whether it’s to a larger white audience or to college listeners or fans of Americana, I’ll never cross out who I am and where I’ve come from,” Rush says. “My music’s always gonna be funky and honest, and it’s always gonna sound like Bobby Rush.”