by Sean Jewell ::
Ask your wife, ask your husband –right now– if you can go see legendary folk-funk/blues man Bobby Rush blow the doors off the Triple Door in Seattle. Bobby Rush’s music will have you boogie’n’ till the break of day. He’s been putting the freak in folk, the bump in funk, and the sex in blues since the 1950s. He’s 80 years old now and shows no signs of slowing down, playing 200 shows per year for the last 60 years.
This ain’t just any show, neither: Bobby Rush is the son of a pastor who came up in both Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Chicago; a swirling mix of muddy swamp funk and big city blues courses through the man’s veins. Since the days before he could grow his trademark mustache and he applied a fake one to play the juke joints in Arkansas, Bobby’s been captivating audiences with his special shows that bring a fourth dimension to live music –it’s called shakin’ that ass– see, when Bobby made it out of the juke joint, he brought it with him. He regularly has troupes of dancers in his backline, shakin’ their backline to every song.
After learning to play harp and guitar with greats like Elmore James, Bobby moved to Chicago and ended up neighbors with Muddy Waters. Bobby toured the Chitlin’ circuit, and was recording funky, blues influenced singles for labels like Checker (“Sock Boo Ga Loo,” 1967), Salem (“Wake Up,” 1969), and Galaxy (“Chicken Heads,” 1971), his first hit, “Chicken Heads,” was penned in the early ’70s; he then recorded for Philadelphia International, and Bobby’s career has been going strong since.
After recording his first record Rush Hour, declared by Rolling Stone to be one of the best “blues albums Rolling Stone loved in the ’70s you never heard” he moved back down south to Jackson, Mississippi. Bobby worked through the eighties with the sounds that were popular, stretching definitions of blues and funk until his trademark folk-funk sound was born. Bobby is as much a storyteller as he is a bandleader, and as a journeyman he’s worked through all kinds of sounds, readily incorporating the cheesy drums and splashy synths popular in the eighties, experimenting with them like George Clinton might; veering into pop, and reveling in a pimped out, soulful style that gave the world the blues-funk glory that is “I Ain’t Studdin’ Ya” (vernacular for you ain’t worryin me) –a song about second hand rumors and unconditional love that Bobby uses ten minutes and a chorus line of booty shakin’ dancers to tell.
In the early 2000s Bobby was nominated for a Grammy for Hoochie Man, and he finally sat down and recorded a traditional acoustic blues album, Raw, and though he had been King of the Chitlin’ Circuit for years, that annealed him to critics and fans alike. A decade later Bobby’s hand is still hot. His 2014 effort Down in Lousiana got a Grammy nod, and his album Decisions with Blindog Smokin‘ and Dr. John are up for an award in 2015. See him live at The Triple Door June 15th, I’ve been assured there will be dancers.