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Showing posts with label Bobby Rush. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bobby Rush. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bobby Rush, Janiva Magness receive Grammy nominations

A fourth Grammy nod for Bobby Rush, whose Porcupine Meat is nominated in Best Traditional Blues Category, while Janiva Magness scores first nom
with Love Wins Again in Best Contemporary Blues category.
Ceremony is February 12 in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Two of blues’ biggest names, Mississippi legend Bobby Rush and contemporary artist Janiva Magness, received Grammy nominations in the 59th Annual Grammy Awards announcements this morning. The awards will be announced at the Grammy Awards ceremony on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles.  
It’s Rush’s fourth nomination, this one for his critically acclaimed Rounder Records debut album Porcupine Meat. With special guests Dave Alvin, Joe Bonamassa, Keb’ Mo’, and Vasti Jackson, and backing from the New Orleans “A” team, the release cemented Bobby Rush’s legacy as the most vital blues artist of his generation. Producer was Rounder’s Scott Billington. Rush is a 10-time Blues Music Award winner, and 41-time nominee.  
Rush was previously nominated for his albums Hoochie Man (2000), Down in Louisiana (2013) and Decisions with the band Blinddog Smokin’ (2014).  
“How much you wanna bet he finally wins that Grammy?” predicted Goldmine magazine of the album, while No Depression enthused: “Buckle up or if you prefer hang on tight and get ready for one of the funkiest, most jaw dropping rides you have ever been on that is going to take you down in the mud and muck of southwestern Louisiana and to heights that you didn’t think you could ever reach. Yes, already a first runner for Record of the Year.”  
Responding to the announcement, Rush said, “This is the greatest thing to ever happen to me in my life, for being with the competition around me. I want everyone to win, but I certainly want to win. Just being in the race is to be a winner. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. I’m not a sore loser especially with people like this. The category is so strong.”  
Janiva MagnessLove Wins Again album on Blue √Član Records was another evolutionary step for the soulful, elegant, award-winning singer-songwriter. Its 11 core songs and two bonus tracks were built on a sonically sophisticated architecture that’s in full service of her remarkably flexible and generous voice. The album shattered genre barriers by enshrining elements of Americana, soul, rock, pop, country and blues, and helped Magness cross over into Americana (she charted Top 30 on the format’s radio chart and performed at the Americana Music Festival & Conference). The album reached #1 on Blues radio and remained in the Top 10 for seven months. Magness is a seven-time Blues Music Award recipient and a 25-time nominee.

According to Downbeat, “Janiva Magness is one lucky woman: Her singing is soulful and intimate.” Living Blues called it “a knockout addition to Janiva Magness’ stellar catalog.”
On her first-ever Grammy nomimation, Magness said, “I am profoundly humbled by today's Grammy nomination announcements. Standing in very tall cotton. Love Wins Again for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Thanks so much producer Dave Darling, Blue √Član, my band, Jeff DeLia and 72 Music Management, Cary Baker and Conqueroo, John Oszajca, Leslie Rouffe, Frank Roszak, and Atomic Music Group! Wow!”  
Both Rush and Magness are managed by 72 Music Management.  
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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Robert Mugge film - Last of the Mississippi Juke Joints - DVD review

I just had the opportunity to review the new release, Last of the Mississippi Juke Joints, a film by Robert Mugge and it's really interesting. This film chronicled the days of Jimmy King's legendary Subway Lounge in Jackson Mississippi and the early days of Morgan Freeman's and Bill Luckett's Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale Mississippi, a heartfelt attempt at recapturing the spirit of fading juke joint traditions. This film documents interviews with Morgan Freeman and Bill Luckett and Dick Waterman, famed music photographer. The first live set is with Alvin Youngblood Hart with Sam Carr and Anthony Sherrod. Hart's performance is super as always with a great voice and pure slide techniques. Showing the real flavor of a juke joint, Luckett and Freeman point out beer signs, pool tables, antiques signs, flea market tables, mis matched table cloths and catfish sandwiches, all the things that make a juke joint feel authentic. This is no city blues club. This is the real deal. Next up interview with Steve Cheseborough and Jimmy King at Subway and featuring a set by Greg "Fingers" Taylor. Ongoing commentary by Vasti Jackson adds color and texture to the film. A short clip of Dennis Fountain & Pat Brown is inserted before more discussions with blues players like House Cat Hendrix. The dynamic Patrice Moncell takes on the stage with a hot band featuring James Levinthal on alto sax and a hot guitar player, Mark Whittaker. Eddie Cotton plays his telecaster and sings by himself sitting at a table as a part of his interview. One of my favorite antidotes from the film is when Jimmy King tells about his beer buckets. They serve beer cans by the bucket over ice. At the end of the night often the beer is left unopened and the bar takes it back (to sell again). Once beer sales are stopped for the night, patrons are free to bring in their own beer. King happens to sell beer next door in his store after hours and with a receipt from next door his bar gives them a bucket of ice to continue to drink in his establishment until daylight. Vasti Jackson plays his set with local scenery showing in the background as well as clips of earlier days in black and white. JT Watkins and Levon Lindsey have a powerful gospel blues style. Bobby Rush does a real nice track just singing alone with harp as a part of the interview. A profile of the Summers Hotel, the first black owned hotel in the area is quite interesting. The Subway lounge is located in the basement of this older structure which was the home of blues and R&B musicians touring in the 50's. King Edwards Blues Band shows it's own style of R&B. Chris Thomas King is next up in the interview chair describing plans for new club and showing the sad state of repairs on the hotel. David Hughes is next on the stage with his shuffle style. Further community interviews with shows of support for the conservation of the Summers Hotel and cards from some of the more notable visitors including Hank Ballard, Mrs James Brown and the Freedom Riders. Devastating films and imagery of racial tension, segregation and cruelty are also shown further documenting the importance of the hotel in history. Chris Thomas King does a real nice delta style blues alone accompanying himself on a National steel bodied guitar. Further plans to remove substantial portions of the hotel due to collapse and the renovation of historic structures on the Civil Rights Tour are shown before the ultimate destruction of the hotel to the sounds of Lucille with Greg "Fingers" Taylor. Cheseborough does his own rendition of a delta blues song with his own steel bodied guitar as Jimmy and Chris discuss how the new clubs just won't be the same. An interesting juxtaposition. Abdul Rasheed, a solid soul singer is up next with his set. Closing the film is Fingers Taylor and the Subway Shuffle. This is a meaningful film documenting not only the music of the area but also the texture of the music scene and remnants of the roots of the blues.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Rounder Records artist: Bobby Rush - Porcupine Meat - New Release Review

I just received the newest release (September 16, 2016), Porcupine Meat, from Bobby Rush and it's a mover. Opening with I Don't Want Nobody Hanging Around, Bobby Rush has a high steppin funky opener featuring a cooking horn section, great bass lines and of course some fine harp work. With a smooth R&B feel, title track, Porcupine Meat, is a real cruiser with Vasti Jackson laying down some tight riffs on guitar over a solid bass line. Very cool. Slow blues number, Got Me Accused, really gives Rush the opportunity to show his deep blues roots. With his soulful vocals and crying harp playing, this track is heavy. Again the strong bass lines really anchor the track and salted lightly with guitar, this track is smokin. R&B track, Snake In The Grass, has strong radio play sound with a catchy hook and a solid beat. Funky track, Funk o' de Funk, has really super bass line and the funk is so deep you can smell it. Punched up horns, keyboard and nicely placed harp work. This track hits the groove. Me, Myself and I is a smooth, jazzy number with a rock solid bottom and clean guitar riffs added by Joe Bonamassa. Catfish Stew is a cool pop jam with a rolling bass line. Light hearted feel and cool horn work make this track sail. It's Your Move has a nice BB King like feel that almost glides across the airwaves. Dave Alvin lays in some really nice guitar work over a solid bottom and a strong keyboard cloud. Keb' Mo' slips on the slide hitting Nighttime Gardener running over a blues riff. Rush does his thing lyrically, and with no pause. A sure crowd pleaser. R&B track, I Think Your Dress Is Too Short, has a real nice feel. With it's super cool bass line, snappy drums and horn punctuation, Rush just rides the wave. Very nice! Standing On Shaky Ground is pure soul and the horns sound like they are pure from the 70's. Rush has seen it all and knows the way with billowy keys and clean accents. Cool track. Wrapping the release is I'm Tired, a high water stepper with nice harp work, slide guitar and light percussion. Rush's harp work is instinctual and gives this track a cool modern feel. Nice closer.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

NEWS: Bobby Rush signs to Rounder; new album 'Porcupine Meat' due out Sept. 16.


With special guests Dave Alvin, Joe Bonamassa, Keb’ Mo’, and Vasti Jackson, and backing from the New Orleans “A” team,
album cements Bobby Rush’s legacy
 as blues’ most vital artist of his generation.

JACKSON, Miss. — Naming one’s album after a song titled “Porcupine Meat” may seem a little unusual — unless, of course, you’re Bobby Rush, who earned his first gold record in 1971 with a hit entitled “Chicken Heads.” He elaborates on his recent composition:  “If a lady won’t treat me right, but she doesn’t want anyone else to have me, that is hard to digest.” Hence the lyric, “too fat to eat, too lean to throw away.”

Porcupine Meat
is Rush’s debut release for Rounder Records, and one of the best recordings of his astonishing 60-plus year career. The album is due out September 16, 2016.

Rush estimates that he has cut over 300 songs since he first began making music. He has been honored with three Grammy nominations, as well as ten Blues Music Awards and 41 nominations. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006.

Make no mistake: Rush is not your typical octogenarian. At age 82, he exudes the energy of a 20-year-old, on the road for more than 200 dates a year. His hectic tour schedule has earned him the affectionate title King of the Chitlin’ Circuit. Rush has traveled the globe including Japan and Beirut. In 2007, he earned the distinction of being the first blues artist to play at the Great Wall of China. His renowned stage act features his famed shake dancers, who personify his funky blues and the ribald humor that he has cultivated during the course of his storied career.

Born Emmet Ellis, Jr. in Homer, Louisiana, he adopted the stage name Bobby Rush out of respect for his father, a pastor. According to Rush, his parents never talked about the blues being the devil’s music. “My daddy never told me to sing the blues, but he also didn’t tell me to not sing the blues. I took that as a green light.”

Rush built his first guitar when he was a youngster. “I didn’t know where to buy one, even if I had the money. I was a country boy,” he says. After seeing a picture of a guitar in a magazine, he decided to make one by attaching the top wire of a broom to a wall and fretting it with a bottle. He also got some harmonica lessons from his father He eventually acquired a real guitar, and started playing in juke joints as a teenager, when his family briefly relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas. The fake moustache Rush wore made club owners believe he was old enough to gain entry into their establishments. While he was living in Little Rock, Rush’s band, which featured Elmore James, had a residency at a nightspot called Jackrabbit.

During the mid-1950s, Rush relocated to Chicago to pursue his musical career and make a better life for himself. It was there that he started to work with Earl Hooker, Luther Allison, and Freddie King, and sat in with many of his musical heroes, such as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, and Little Walter. Rush eventually began leading his own band in the 1960s. He also started to craft his own distinct style of funky blues, and recorded a succession of singles for a various small labels. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that Rush finally scored a hit with “Chicken Heads.” More recordings followed, including an album for Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Label.

Rush relocated one final time, to Jackson, Miss. in the early 1980s. He was tired of the cold up north, and he realized that setting up his base of operations directly in the center of the South would make it easier to perform in nearby cities on weekends. More indie label recordings followed. Songs like “Sue, A Man Can Give (But He Sure Can’t Take It),” “What’s Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander Too,” and” I Ain’t Studdin’ You” became regional jukebox favorites in juke joints throughout the region, and many of those songs are still fan favorites that are an integral part of his live repertoire.

Since 2003, Rush has self-released the majority of his work (including the critically acclaimed Folk Funk album) on his Deep Rush label, but recently, he came to the realization that having a bigger record company behind him would be beneficial. “I outgrew myself,” he says. “I need someone to help in doing the things I can’t do. When you are wearing all the hats, you can’t be everywhere at once.”

Enter esteemed producer and two-time Grammy winner Scott Billington, Rounder Records’ longtime VP of A&R. Billington first met Rush at a Recording Academy meeting 25 years ago, and they became fast friends. He has wanted to work with Rush ever since.  “He is the most vital bluesman of his generation,” says Billington. He continues, “There are many people who still don’t know Bobby Rush, even though he is a hero in the parallel universe of the Chitlin’ Circuit — fans stop him on the street in Memphis and Helena and Little Rock.”

Porcupine Meat
will not only please Rush’s older fans, but is likely to win over many new ones. Billington reflects, “We wanted to come up with something fresh, while staying 100% true to Bobby.”

The album was recorded in New Orleans, and Rush was pleased and proud to be given the opportunity to make an album in his home state for the very first time. His impassioned vocals and in-the-pocket harmonica playing are among the best performances of his career. Unlike most of his recent releases, these sessions only feature real instruments and no synthesizers. All of the rhythm tracks were cut live in the studio, often edited down from jams that on several occasions ran close to ten minutes.

For the project, Billington assembled some of the best Louisiana musicians, including Shane Theriot, David Torkanowsky, Jeffrey “Jellybean” Alexander, Kirk Joseph, Cornell Williams, and others. Rush brought along his old friend and longtime collaborator, guitarist Vasti Jackson, who worked with Bobby and Scott on getting the songs ready for the studio. Guitar greats Dave Alvin, Keb’ Mo’, and Joe Bonamassa all make guest appearances on the album.

Rush has always been a prolific and clever songwriter. The songs he penned for Porcupine Meat such as “Dress Too Short,” “I Don’t Want Nobody Hanging Around,” “Me, Myself And I,” “Nighttime Gardener,” “It’s Your Move,” and the title selection, all equal or rival his best material. “Funk O’ De Funk” delivers exactly what the title suggests and what Rush has always done the best, which is putting the funk into the blues. While “Got Me Accused” is inspired by events from Rush’s own life, the lyrics tell an all-too-familiar tale about the rampant racial injustice that afflicts our society. Producer Billington and his wife Johnette Downing (the well known New Orleans songwriter and children’s musician) co-wrote a couple of fine selections, “Catfish Stew” and “Snake In The Grass.”

Bobby Rush is the greatest bluesman currently performing. Porcupine Meat is a testament to his brilliance, which presents him at his very best, and doesn’t try to be anything that he is not. “I just try to record good music and stories,” he humbly states.  With this recording, he has more than accomplished his goal, and has produced one of the finest contemporary blues albums in recent times.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Big Blue Records artist: Barbara Blue - Memphis Blue - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Memphis Blue: Sweet, Strong, & Tight from Barbara Blue and it's got soul. Opening with J McShann's Hands Off, a rumbling R&B style track Barbara Blue gets it rolling taking the lead on vocal, and backed by Bobby Rush on harp, Jason Yasinsky on trombone, Joe Spake on bari sax, Lannie McMillan on sax, Marc Franklin on trumpet, David Smith on bass, Michael Tols on guitar, Rev Charles Hodges on B3, Lester Snell on whirlitzer and Steve Potts on drums. On No Time To Cry, Barbara gets a nice Kid Wilson swampy feel and with Ronnie Earl on guitar and backed by Shontelle Norman and Sharisse Norman on vocals, it's on of my favorites on the release. Two stepper, Rudy's Blues has real nice trumpet work from Dedrick Davis and a snappy beat, courtesy of Potts. Voodoo Woman has a real nice bass groove set in place by Smith and The Royal Horns punch up the track. Cody Dickinson adds washboard and Sonny Barbato spices it up with accordion. Bluesy Me & Jesus is another of my favorite tracks with a gospel feel. Barbato's piano work on this track and Hodges B3 work really set the stage for Barbara's soulful vocals. Rolling Up On Me has a cool Memphis funk feel, low on horns but high on B3. Nice phrasing by Blue and a tight guitar solo from Earl makes this the radio track to follow. Very nice! R&B track, Love Is After Me, has a real drive and The Royal Horns really punch it nicely. Backing vocals from the Norman's give it super warmth. Coat & Hat has a real Tex Mex feel and a sleeper track on the release featuring solid vocals and cool accordion work from Barbato. Title track, Sweet, Strong, & Tight, has a cool sway and tight horns from Royal horns punching the back. Spake's Bari work, Steve Graham on trombone and Bobby Rush back on harp give this track real texture. Another R&B track, I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down, is another solid radio contender. With it's killer melody and smooth horn work, very nice. SuperBlues has a cook funkified rock back beat and a cool harp solo from Rush. Driving bass work from Smith sets the tone. Memphis Stomp has super horn vamp and Barbara kicks the vocals up a notch supported by Hodges on B3. Wrapping the release is 800 Mile Blues, a really stripped down blues number featuring Ronnie Earl on guitar and Blue on vocal. Excellent closer.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

NEWS: James "Hot Dog" Lewis, Bobby Rush's keyboardist: 1955-2015

James "Hot Dog" Lewis:
Bobby Rush's longtime keyboardist

Burial fund established for 27-year veteran of Rush’s band;
celebration of life scheduled for October 29-31 in Jackson, Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. — Keyboardist James “Hot Dog” Lewis died in his sleep after a battle with lung disease on Friday, October 23, at his home in Jackson. Lewis, who was 60 years old, was a beloved, respected figure in the Mississippi and international blues community.
Lewis was best known as the keyboard player in Bobby Rush’s band, where he earned his nickname with his zesty, freewheeling style on and off the stage for 27 years. He played on many albums with Rush and performed internationally as part of the Bobby Rush Band
Lewis’ life will be celebrated with a concert on Thursday, October 29 at Jackson’s Metro City Complex at 7 p.m. Visitation at Jackson Memorial Funeral Services will be from 1 to 7 p.m. on Friday, October 30, and the funeral service will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 31. Contributions to help pay for funeral arrangements can be sent directly to Jackson Memorial Funeral Services, 922 Woodrow Wilson Avenue, Jackson, MS 39213. Call (601) 969-9457 for more information.
“‘Hot Dog’ played with me for about 30 years,” says Rush. “He was the most wonderful-hearted guy you would ever want to meet. He was a great musician who played in a lot of good bands. He will be missed by many friends and fellow band members. He was a dear friend, musician and player. He played on 25-30 of my records and we traveled on a lot of road together.” 
“Hot Dog” was born on May 4, 1955 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and moved to Jackson, Mississippi when he was a child, after being adopted by his grandparents. He grew up and attended high school in Jackson, where he played locally with a band called Two-Three. Lewis traveled to Japan for about a year, and when he returned to Jackson, drummer Bruce Howard introduced him to Rush. He played exclusively with Rush for several years following.
Lewis’ work with Rush took him across the United States, Europe and Asia, including a performance for 40,000 people at the Great Wall of China. He will be remembered by his bandmates as an exceptional musician, solid friend and uplifting personality who always made them laugh and looked out for those close to him. 
Journalist David Whiteis recalls: “He was an excellent blues and R&B pianist, obviously, but I’ll never forget hearing him in the green room before various shows, sitting at a piano playing Broadway show tunes, standards from the Great American Songbook and classical selections for his own satisfaction and for that of the people gathered around him.”  

Pictured: Bobby Rush, Bruce Howard, Mizz Lowe, Jazzii A,
various folks in China, and Hot Dog