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  • Bobby Rush Is Rawer Than Raw

    Posted September 2020


    Bobby Rush at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, 1150 Lakeland DriveJackson, Mississippi 39216. Photos for the album "Sitting on top of the Blues." © photo by Bill SteberWe at Boomerocity fell in love with Bobby Rush when we had the opportunity to chat with him (here)shortly after his first ever Grammy win three years ago. He’s got an amazing heart and attitude in addition to his mind-blowing blues talent. We just love the guy!

    Bobby recently released his latest album, Rawer Than Raw - a stripped down, acoustic tribute to the rich blues history of Mississippi featuring songs from a handful of blues greats from his adopted home state.

    The record, on the 86-year-old’s own Deep Rush Records label in partnership with Thirty Tigers, is a follow-up to Rush’s Grammy-nominated 2019 album Sitting on Top of the Blues, and his first project since his acclaimed cameo in last year’s Golden Globe-nominated Eddie Murphy film hit Dolemite Is My Name.

    Rawer Than Raw Cover Click On This Album Cover To Order Your Copies Today!Partly inspired by the popular series of intimate solo concerts Rush has made a mainstay of his concert calendar in the years since his first all-acoustic album (titled Raw), Rawer Than Raw casts a spotlight on five Mississippi Blues Hall of Famers: early acoustic blues greats Skip James and Robert Johnson, and Rush’s contemporaries on the music scene of the ’50s and ’60s,Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Muddy Waters. The record features a half dozen covers of some of their best-known songs rendered in Rush’s own inimitable, acoustic style, characterized by wailing harmonica and a stomping foot to keep the rhythm. There are also five Rush originals — “Down in Mississippi,” “Let Me in Your House,” “Sometimes I Wonder,” “Let’s Make Love Again,” and “Garbage Man,” all credited under his given name, Emmett Ellis, Jr. — whose country vibe matches the songs that inspired the album.

    The video to the right is a slide show over the audio of a brief conversation we recently had with the blues great. It’s worth your time listening to. After listening to it, why not go ahead and order a few copies of Rawer Than Raw. One for your own listening library and some as gifts for the upcoming holidays. You can also keep up with Mr. Rush at his website,

  • Down In Louisiana

    downinlouisianacoverDown In Louisiana
    Artist: Bobby Rush
    Label: Deep Rush Records
    Released: February 19, 2013
    Reviewed: February 17, 2013

    Boomerocity readers already know that this site is a huge fan and supporter of the blues. So it should come as absolutely no surprise to any of you that Boomerocity is pogo-stick thrilled to tell y’all about Bobby Rush’s new CD, Down in Louisiana.Its 11 songs revel in the grit,grind and soul that’s been the blues innovator’s trademark since the1960s, when he stood shoulder to shoulder on the stages of Chicago with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter and other giants.

    Of course, it’s hard to recognize a future giant when he’s standing among his mentors. But five decades later Down in Louisiana’s blend of deep roots, eclecticarrangements and raw modern production is clearly the stuff of towering artistry.

    “This album started in the swamps and the juke joints, where my music started, and it’s also a brand new thing,” says the Grammy-nominated adoptedson of Jackson, Mississippi. “Fifty years ago I put funk together with down-home blues to create my own style. Now, with Down in Louisiana, I’ve done the same thing with Cajun, reggae, pop, rock and blues, and it all sounds only like Bobby Rush.”

    At 77, Rush still has an energy level that puts those of us several years his junior to embarrassment and shame. He’s a prolific songwriter and one of the most vital live performers in the blues, able to execute daredevil splits on stage with the finesse of a young James Brown while singing and playing harmonica and guitar. Those talents have earned him multiple Blues Music Awards including Soul Blues Album of the Year, Acoustic Album of the Year, and, almost perennially, Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year.

    As Down in Louisiana attests, he’s also one of the music’s finest storytellers, whether he’s evoking the thrill of finding love in Down in Louisiana — a song whose rhythmic accordion and churning beat evoke his Bayou State youth — or romping through one of his patented double-entendre funk rave-ups like You’re Just Like a Dresser.

    Songs like the latter — with thetag line “You’re just like a dresser/Somebody’s always ramblin’ in your drawers” — and a stage show built around big-bottomed female dancers, ribald humor and hip-shaking grooves have made Rush today’s most popular blues attraction among African-American audiences. With more than 100 albums on his résumé, he’s the reigning king of the Chitlin’ Circuit, the network of clubs, theaters, halls and juke joints that first sprang up in the 1920s to cater to black audiences in the bad old days of segregation. A range of historic entertainers that includes Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, B.B. King, Nat “King” Cole and Ray Charles emerged from this milieu. Rush is proud to bear the torch for that tradition, and more.

    “What I do goes back to the days of black vaudeville and Broadway, and — with my dancers on stage — even back to Africa,” Rush says. “It’s a spiritual thing, entwined with the deepest black roots, and withDown inLouisiana I’m taking those roots in a new direction so all kinds of audiences can experience my music and what it’s about.”

    Compared to the big-band arrangements of the 13 albums Rush made while signed to Malaco Records, the Mississippi-based pre-eminent soul-blues label of the ’80s and ’90s, Down In Louisiana is a stripped down affair. The album ignited 18 months ago when Rush and producer Paul Brown, who’s played keyboards in Rush’s touring band, got together at Brown’s Nashville-based Ocean Soul Studios to build songs from the bones up.

    “Everything started with just me and my guitar,” Rush explains. “Then Paul created the arrangements around what I’d done. It’s the first time I made an album like that and it felt really good.” Rush plans to tour behind the disc, his debut on Thirty Tigers, with a similar-sized group.

    Down in Louisiana is spare on Rush’s usual personnel, — Brown on keys, drummer Pete Mendillo, guitarist Lou Rodriguez and longtime Rush bassist Terry Richardson — but doesn’t scrimp on funk. Every song is propelled by an appealing groove. Even the semi-autobiographical hard-times story Tight Money, which floats in on the call of Rush’s haunted harmonica, has a magnetic pull toward the dance floor. And Don’t You Cry, which Rush describes as “a new classic,” employs its lilting sway to evoke the vintage sound of electrified Delta blues à la Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. Rush counts those artists, along with B.B King, RayCharles and Sonny Boy Williamson II, as major influences.

    Although his TV appearances, gigs at Lincoln Center and numerous Blues Music Awards attest to his acceptance by all blues fans, Rush hopes that the blend of the eclectic, inventive and down-home on Down in Louisiana will help further expand his audience.

    “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 promises. “My music’s always gonna be funky and honest, and it’s always gonna sound like Bobby Rush.”