In his 50-plus years in the music business, blues singer Bobby Rush has achieved legendary status as an entertainer. His signature brand of “folk-funk” is decidedly contemporary, but has its roots deep in the blues tradition. This “King of the Chitlin’ Circuit” has won multiple Blues Music Awards for his recorded work, but critics and fans agree that the real appeal of Rush is his unparalleled live show. His double entendre-filled stories all relate to the many matters of the heart, and are aided by thumping bass lines and lovely female dancers.
Born in north Louisiana, Rush started out young, performing in Deep South juke joints with his homemade “diddley bow” and wearing a fake mustache. While still a teen, Rush moved to Chicago with his family and quickly gained the respect of the blues community for his tireless ability to hustle gigs, sometimes double booking himself for the same stage or playing three shows a night. His Chicago bands would often include players like Freddie King, Earl Hooker, and Luther Allison. His bandleading skills took him out on tour, and he soon was appearing throughout the “chitlin circuit” of the South.
By the time he slowed down long enough to record, people were ready for it. His single “Chicken Heads” garnered him national attention upon its 1971 release, and furthered his exposure in recording and touring for the next three decades. In 2003 he was featured in the Richard Pearce documentary “The Road To Memphis,” part of Martin Scorsese’s film series “The Blues.”
Like the artists that influenced him: Louis Jordan, Elmore James and Muddy Waters, Rush’s show is full of humor, wit, and soulful music.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“Two years younger than the late James Brown, he is the country yin to Brown’s yang of urban driving one-chord funk. For almost 60 years Bobby Rush has been dedicated to “crossing over” to a broader audience without “crossing out” his core African American fan base built one by one at back road clubs with a big band based on those of Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan.”-Don Wilcock, American Blues Scene