Bobby Rush has been playing the blues for over six decades. He began on the same Chicago stages as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter. Now at the age of 77, as one of the elder statesmen of the American Blues, he will release a new studio album in February of 2013 titled, Down in Louisiana.
Rush is a son of the Louisiana Delta and juke joints of the South that were a breeding ground for many of artists who contributed to the evolution of the blues. His sound has evolved during the past 60 years as there is a dash of funk here, some reggae there, and a little rock and roll every once in awhile; but at its foundation, his music is a form of gritty and at times raw blues.
He has always been a master storyteller. His stories of life, whether they be the theme of finding love which dominates the title track, or the double-entendre lyrics set to the pulsating rhythms of “You Just Like a Dresser,” the lyrics keep him centered in the American blues tradition.
He keeps it pretty basic on his latest release. In addition to his vocals, guitar, and harp, he is supported by keyboardist Paul Brown, drummer Pete Mendillo, bassist Terry Richardson, and guitarist Lou Rodriguez. They are a tight-knit ensemble that are experienced enough to allow Rush to shine while filling in the sound.
If any song defines what his music is all about, it is the six-minute “Don’t You Cry.” It channels the electric blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf as he improvises on the guitar and harp.
The years have been kind to his voice as it is still a formidable presence. His music exudes energy and at times humor, which is always a good combination. “Tight Money,” “Boogie in the Dark,” “Bowlegged Woman,” and “Rock This House,” are all a nice ride through the style, sound, and mind of an American bluesman.
Bobby Rush has been on the road and in the studio through good times and bad and at his age, he is who he is. Down in Louisiana is an album that should please any fan of the blues.