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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Yardbirds, Mitch Ryder, Lazy Lester, Joe-El Sonnier, Robby Krieger headline Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival, May 27-28





THE YARDBIRDS, MITCH RYDER, ROBBY KREIGER,
JO-EL SONNIER, BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY, LAZY LESTER,
DWAYNE DOPSIE,
BIG CHIEF MONK BOUDREAUX & THE GOLDEN EAGLES
DOUG KERSHAW AND MICHAEL DOUCET,

HEADLINE 28th ANNUAL
SIMI VALLEY CAJUN & BLUES MUSIC FESTIVAL,
SATURDAY-SUNDAY, MAY 27-28
Los Angeles area’s largest Cajun, Zydeco, Blues and Roots music festival, featuring two stages, a Mardi Gras parade, crafts and dozens of
food booths, takes place Memorial Day weekend.



The Yardbirds
Lazy Lester
Miitch Ryder



Dwayne Dopsie
Jo-El Sonnier
Doug Kershaw



SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — The 28th annual Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival will once again enliven Memorial Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, May 27 and 28, at Rancho Santa Susanna Community Park, 5005 Los Angeles Ave., in Simi Valley. The event features a full stage for each of its musical genres. The spirited music will go non-stop each day from 12 noon until 7:30 p.m. (or 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.).
Single Day tickets are $25 for adults (13 and over); $45 for a 2-day pass; children 12 and younger are free. New this year will be a limited number of SuperTicket passes. For $124 for a single day or $199 for both days, SuperTickets holders get a reserved seat, in the shade, directly in the front of the blues stage as well as private bar access (and two complimentary drinks) and other exclusive “backstage experiences.” Tickets are available on the festival’s website: http://www.simicajun.org/. (Note: the only tickets available at the gate are single-day, $30)
Headlining the blues stage this year will be the pioneering blues-rock band the Yardbirds, the Robby Krieger Band (celebrating 50 years of the Doors' music), Mitch Ryder, Lazy Lester and the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy; as well as L.A.-based roots-rockers the 44’s, soulful SoCal songstress Alex Nester and festival returnees Kelly’s Lot. Another festival favorite, Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers, returns for the fourth straight year and will be performing at both stages. 
On the Cajun and Zydeco stage will be the “original ragin’ Cajun” fiddler Doug Kershaw; Grammy-winning accordionist Jo-El Sonnier and the Cajun Trio featuring Michael Doucet, David Doucet and Mitch Reed. Performing on this stage too are Crawdaddio and the Bayou Brothers, who also will back Lazy Lester on the blues stage, while Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles will play on both the Cajun/Zydeco and Blues stages.
The annual Mardi Gras Parade will take place both days, and everyone is invited to join in with the marching bands, stilt walkers and other costumed characters. Also, during the breaks at the Cajun/Zydeco stage, dance instructor AJ Gibbs will lead the crowd in free dance lessons.
About the headliners:
The Yardbirds: In the mid-’60s, the Yardbirds revolutionized music as they pushed British blues rock into psychedelia and heavy metal. Godhead guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page all spent time in the band, playing alongside core members Jim McCarty (drums), Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar/bass) and the late Keith Relf (vocals/harmonica). McCarty recently assembled a new touring line-up that includes guitarist Johnny A (Peter Wolf), bassist Kenny Aaronson (Joan Jett, Hall & Oates), veteran harpist Myke Scavone and vocalist/guitarist John Idan, who has been a Yardbird since the Nineties. The group performs at the festival on Saturday, May 27.
The Robby Krieger Band: Regularly cited as one of rock’s all-time top guitarists, Krieger shot to fame in the Doors. The Los Angeles native wrote or co-wrote some of the band’s signature tunes, like “Light My Fire,” “Love Me Two Times,” “Touch Me” and “Love Her Madly.” The Robby Krieger Band will celebrate 50 years of the Doors’ music when then make their Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival debut on May 27.
Mitch Ryder: If you have ever heard Bruce Springsteen perform his “Detroit Medley,” you know Mitch Ryder’s impact on rock history. The medley’s main songs — “Devil With a Blue Dress,” “Jenny Take a Ride,” “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “C.C. Rider” — are all tunes Ryder popularized while fronting the Detroit Wheels in the mid-’60s. The powerhouse vocalist has remained a popular performer, especially in Europe. This year finds Ryder readying a new album and working on a stage musical based on his novel Hide Your Love Away. Experience Ryder’s dynamic rock & soul sound on the blues stage Sunday.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: For nearly a quarter century, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has been combining the old with the new. Folks can’t help but to dance to the band’s exhilarating blend of jazz, swing and Dixieland with rock ’n’ roll energy. Formed in Ventura, California, the band has recorded 10 albums and played over 2700 live shows, including playing for three U.S. presidents. Rather remarkably, the group remains composed of its core members: Scotty Morris (lead vocals and guitar), Kurt Sodergren (drums), Dirk Shumaker (bass), Andy Rowley (baritone saxophone), Glen "The Kid" Marhevka (trumpet), Karl Hunter (saxophones and clarinet) and Joshua Levy (piano). They’ll make their second Cajun & Blues Festival appearance when they hit the blues stage on Sunday.
Doug Kershaw: Known as the “original ragin’ Cajun,” Kershaw found crossover success during the late ’60s when his fierce fiddle playing and hippie-style appearance won favor with young rock audiences. His career started in the mid-’50s when he teamed with his brother Rusty to become a popular country duo, scoring hits with “Diggy Diggy Lo” and the autobiographical “Louisiana Man.” Kershaw, who was inducted in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2009, will perform on the Cajun/Zydeco stage on May 27.
Lazy Lester: The story goes that, in the mid-’50s, Lazy Lester met Lightin’ Slim by chance on a bus. Slim needed a harmonica player for a recording and Lester could play the harp. He wound up playing on many of Slim’s Excello albums before making his own Excello debut in 1957. The Blues Hall of Famer’s best known tunes include “I’m a Lover Not a Fighter,” “I Hear You Knockin’,” and “I’m Gonna Leave You Baby.” After taking a hiatus, Lester returned to music in the late ’80s and he has made several albums since. Now in his 80s, Lester still blows a mean, swamp-bluesy harp. He’ll take the blues stage on May 27, backed by the Bayou Brothers.
Jo-El Sonnier: Hailed as the “King of Cajun Music” for the past 25 years, Sonnier is a wizard of the accordion. The much-in-demand musician has recorded with such stars as Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, Robert Cray, Neil Diamond, Mark Knopfler, Elvis Costello, Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton. A multi-Grammy nominee himself, Sonnier won a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Music Album in 2015. He returns to Simi Valley for the second time, performing on the Cajun stage Saturday and Sunday.
The Cajun Trio: Michael Doucet, David Doucet & Mitch Reed: These three musicians were all founding members of BeauSoliel, the internationally renowned, multi-Grammy winning group that Garrison Keillor hailed as the "best Cajun band in the world." This trio, with Michael Doucet on fiddle, his brother David on guitar and Mitch Reed on various string instruments, showcases its virtuosity by slipping effortlessly among musical genres. They will play, along with a special surprise guest, both days of the festival.
Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles: A true ambassador of New Orleans, Joseph Pierre “Big Chief Monk” Boudreaux is the leader of the Golden Eagles, a New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian tribe. They are known for their elaborate attire, which includes handmade suits adorned with brightly colored feathers, intricate beadwork, rhinestones and ruffles, as well as their music, which combines folk traditions with funk and R&B. Boudreaux, a 2016 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Award, brings his Golden Eagles to the Cajun/Zydeco stage on Saturday and the blues stage on Sunday.
Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers: A Cajun & Blues Festival favorite, Dwayne “Dopsie” Rubin returns to Simi Valley for the fourth straight year. He also will be hard to miss since he will be performing on both the blues and Cajun/Zydeco stages on Saturday and back on the Cajun/Zydeco stage on Sunday. The son of Zydeco legend Rockin’ Dopsie Sr., Dwayne has carved out his own successful career. His highly energetic Zydeco style has earned him a Grammy nomination and the title of “America’s Hottest Accordion” player.
The blues stage once again was booked by Martin Fleischmann and his company, Rum & Humble. For more than 20 years Rum & Humble has played a key role in presenting some of the world’s great musical talent (Radiohead, King Sunny Ade, and the Rolling Stones, to name a few) to Los Angeles audiences, in venues like the Hollywood Bowl, the Orpheum Theatre and the Santa Monica Pier. They also have been a pioneer promoters in the field of Latin alternative music; Fleischmann is one of the co-founders of L.A.’s Congo Room. Additionally, Rum & Humble has collaborated closely with artists such as Jackson Browne and Paul Oakenfold as well as with a varied roster of corporate and non-profit clients, such as KJAZZ Radio and the National Geographic Society.
The Cajun & Blues Festival has received national press accolades: “Everywhere you turned, there was something exciting happening,” wrote Blue Revue editor Art Tipaldi, who travelled to L.A. from New England. After attending last year’s concert, Jazz Weekly’s George W. Harris proclaimed: “Forget the Playboy Jazz Festival, the Simi Valley Cajun & Blues fest beats the older and richer sister. This is coming from a jazzer, yet still, pound for pound and dollar for dollar, I have more fun here than in Hollywood … it “delivered music made to last … can’t wait until next year.”
Besides the great music, festival-goers can enjoy great food too. Southern BBQ and authentic Cajun-Creole cuisine, such as jambalaya and crawfish, are available at dozens of food booths, which will also feature a variety of other dining options. There will be rows of craft booths and retailers to check out as well.
To get to the Rancho Santa Susanna Community Park, take California Hwy. 118 (Ronald Reagan Freeway) north from L.A. Exit at Stearns Street and go a couple blocks south. Ample free parking is available, with the main lot at the Simi Valley High School; a free shuttle takes to you to the park. This year, the festival has added thousands of square feet of additional tenting for shade at no additional charge. Low back chairs are recommended; however, pop-ups will no longer be allowed in the festival grounds.
100% of the festival’s profits are donated to charitable, educational and humanitarian causes on a local, national and international level. A list of these organizations may be found at < http://www.simicajun.org/who-benefits/>.  
The Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival is a presentation of the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise.

Schedule — subject to change:

SATURDAY MAY 27th
BLUES STAGE
Kelly’s Lot
Lazy Lester
The Yardbirds
The Robby Krieger Band
Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers
CAJUN/ZYDECO STAGE
Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers
Cajun Trio featuring Michael Doucet, David Doucet and Mitch Reed
Mardi Gras Parade
Jo-El Sonnier
Doug Kershaw  
SUNDAY MAY 28th
BLUES STAGE
Alex Nester
The 44’s
Mitch Ryder
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles
CAUN/ZYDECO STAGE
Bayou Brothers
Crawdaddio
Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers
Mardi Gras Parade
Cajun Trio featuring Michael Doucet, David Doucet and Mitch Reed
Jo-El Sonnier  


Monday, November 7, 2016

All Aboard! Acclaimed Blues Singer/Guitarist Colin James to Perform on the 18th Edition of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Holiday Train with Stops Throughout the U.S. Midwest



Acclaimed Blues Singer/Guitarist Colin James to Perform on the 18th Edition of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Holiday Train with Stops Throughout the U.S. Midwest

TORONTO, ON - Six-time Juno Award-winning singer/guitarist/songwriter Colin James, whose new CD, Blue Highways, was released on October 14 via True North Records, will perform on the 18th edition of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Holiday Train that has stops planned throughout the U.S. Midwest during the first two weeks of December.
“Since I was a child I’ve always been romantic about the railway,” says Colin James. “Spending a couple weeks on a train and pulling into some of these idyllic towns will not only be a new experience for me, but a fantastic way to ring in the Christmas season.”

At each stop on the Holiday Train’s schedule, the beautifully decorated and lighted train pulls up and one side of a box car opens to reveal a music stage with the band ready to entertain the crowds who flock to see it each year and also bring along food to donate to local food banks. Besides Colin James, all Holiday Train stops in the US will also feature Canadian country music artist Kelly Prescott.
The Holiday Train has become a highly-anticipated annual rite of passage for families all along the route stretching from Canada down to the United States & brings together children of all ages to celebrate the season, bringing joy and goodwill as swell as supporting local community food banks and raising awareness. At each stop along the way, Colin James will perform a 30 minute set of music that includes both holiday favorites as well as his own songs.

To watch an informative video about the Holiday Train click here: https://vimeo.com/150278345

As in years past, two trains will operate coast-to-coast under the Holiday Train banner, with approximately 150 shows held in November and December. The train that operates primarily through the U.S. will launch in the Montreal area on Nov. 25, while the all-Canada train's first shows will come a day later, also in Montreal. The U.S. train will complete its final shows in Saskatchewan on Dec. 15, and the final show of the tour will take place Dec. 17 at Port Coquitlam, B.C.
"We are very excited about this year's CP Holiday Train and are encouraging all event attendees to bring healthy, nutritious food items to the shows," said Pam Jolliffe, Interim Executive Director, Food Banks Canada. "For the last two decades, CP has played an integral role in raising essential food for the holidays and in raising awareness of hunger-related issues." ​
Every pound of food and dollar raised at each stop stays with the local food bank to help feed those in need in that community
Colin James’ new CD, Blue Highways was co-produced by Colin and Dave Meszaros (Wake Owl, Old Man Canyon) and recorded at The Warehouse Studios in Vancouver. The new album pays tribute to some of Colin’s long-time blues idols, including Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Freddie King, Jr. Wells,  Buddy Guy, Peter Green, Robert Johnson and William Bell to name a few.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

David "Honeyboy" Edwards - I'm Gonna Tell You Somethin' That I Know - New Release Review - CD/DVD

I just received the newest release, I'm Gonna Tell You Somethin' That I Know, by David Honeyboy Edwards and it's terrific! Opening with Howlin' Wolf's Ride With Me Tonight, Honeyboy is accompanied by Jeff Dale and Michael Frank. Honeyboy, a young 95 years old at the time, plays solid lead LP jr. as he sings. If you haven't had the pleasure to see and hear Honeyboy, he is the real deal ... in my mind, one of the few, first generation pure delta blues men alive during our current generation. Singing blues like few men in modern times, Honeyboy keeps his own time. On That's Alright, Honeyboy shows real spark and enjoyment playing his trade in a private and up-close environment. Robert Jr. Lockwoodhas a more's Little Boy Blue and Jimmy Rogers' You're The One and really cool blues jams and Honeyboy's vocals are emotional and raw. Edwards cover of Oden's Goin' Down Slow is more uptempo but no less sensitive. His guitar riffs are ragged but fluid and expressive. Muddy Waters' Country Boy is one of my favorite tracks on the release with Honeyboy grinding it out. Robert Petway's Catfish Blues and Apron Strings is a particularly lively jam with Honeyboy flexing his guitar prowess. Expressive and authentic. Honeyboy slips on his slide for Sweet Home Chicago using an Elmore James guitar riff and his classic vocal style, this is a super groove to wrap the concert. Included on the release is a short conversation with Honeyboy about his younger life and Robert Johnson. You want the first hand info...this is as first hand as it gets.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Heralded Austin Musician Johnny Nicholas Brings a Breath of "Fresh Air" with New Blues/Roots CD Coming September 2






Heralded Austin Musician Johnny Nicholas Brings a Breath of Fresh Air with New Blues/Roots CD Coming September 2


AUSTIN, TX – Acclaimed roots musician Johnny Nicholas has announced a September 2 release date for his new CD, Fresh Air, which showcases his multiple talents on various guitars and soulful vocals for an album surely to be one of the best musical revelations of the year.


Watch the Johnny Nicholas video that includes musical excerpts from the Fresh Air album:





Fresh Air was produced by Bruce Hughes and recorded at Arlyn Studios in Austin. Featuring an all-star cast that includes Scrappy Jud Newcomb (guitars, mandolin, mandocello), John Chipman (drums, percussion, vocals) and Bruce Hughes (bass, vocals, percussion), plus a guest list that includes Cindy Cashdollar (lap steel and additional guitars), the new CD creates a satisfying statement of true American roots music at its finest and most authentic.
Fresh Air is a collection of stories and melodies that have haunted me for some time,” says Johnny Nicholas. “There are some different styles here but all of this is the blues as I know it—as all American music and rock and roll has sprung from the same source. I don’t understand a whole lot of what is going on in the modern world, but I do know I could use a little ‘fresh air.’ I hope you dig these tunes.”

Containing a baker’s-dozen 13 tracks, Fresh Air covers a wide swath of Johnny’s roots – everything from the Delta blues of the album’s opener, “Moonlight Train,” to the Chicago-style city blues of the Howlin’ Wolf classic, “Back Door Man,” along with sojourns into swampy Cajun styles, Americana and everything in between.  The constant throughout all these songs is Johnny’s high-lonesome blues vocal style, lithe harmonica playing and soulful string work on an assortment of guitars. Other than “Back Door Man” and the Sleepy John Estes chestnut, “”Kid Man Blues,” Johnny Nicholas had a hand in writing all of the other songs on Fresh Air.
“Johnny Nicholas is one of the best bluesmen ever, black or white.” – Stephen Bruton. When it comes to Americana roots music and especially the blues, the late, great Stephen Bruton knew what he was talking about. His description of his long-time friend and musical comrade in arms is succinct and quite a heady compliment, but then, Johnny Nicholas is an amazing talent.
For four decades, Johnny’s consummate musicianship and vocal skills have graced live music scenes across the country and abroad. He has toured, performed and recorded with many true blues and Americana roots music legends, including Mississippi Fred McDowell, Robert Lockwood Jr., Johnny Shines, Big Walter Horton, Roosevelt Sykes, Nathan Abshire, Robert Pete Williams, Eddie Taylor, Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Young, Houston Stackhouse, and Boogie Woogie Red.
Johnny recorded and toured with Johnny Shines and Snooky Pryor, producing and playing guitar on their W.C. Handy Award-winning album, Back to the Country. He was one of the lead vocalists with Asleep at the Wheel when they won their first of many Grammy Awards. He gave blues guitar icon Ronnie Earl his first gig in the now legendary band, Guitar Johnny and the Rhythm Rockers. He has also performed with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Bonnie Rait, Eric Clapton, Pops and Mavis Staples, Delbert McClinton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Marcia Ball and Jimmie Vaughan, among many others. He can wow a festival crowd of thousands or a small room of devotees.
Born in Rhode Island, Johnny discovered the blues at an early age, grooving to the great R&B that was blasting from the airwaves in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s—Jimmy Reed, Lightnin’ Slim, Lloyd Price, Slim Harpo, Larry Williams, Little Walter, Ray Charles and Howlin’ Wolf were all big blips on this impressionable young man’s radar screen. Like fellow Greek-American Johnny Otis had a generation earlier, this Johnny easily made the leap into the soulful world of the blues. He was high school friends with Duke Robillard and the two of them shared licks and records after school, as well as each leading their own band (Duke’s was called the Variations and Johnny’s was called the Vikings).
In 1966, he hopped the train to New York City to see his idol, Howlin’ Wolf. He ended up hanging with Wolf’s band at the Albert Hotel by day (where Wolf, the Muddy Waters band and Otis Spann were all staying), and at Ungano’s nightclub by night, where the Wolf was holding musical court while on a two week prowl of the Big Apple. This experience cemented his love of the blues while providing inspiration and a gateway to friendships and musical adventures that would help mold a successful career, and still smolder in this talented and restless soul
In 1980, Johnny decided to take time off from touring in order to raise a family. He married Brenda Schlaudt, one of the co-founders of Antone’s night club; and played music at (and helped manage) what became a Texas culinary and music legend: Hill Top CafĂ© (housed in a former 1920s-era gas station - “inconveniently located in the middle of nowhere”) near Cherry Spring, not far from Austin. Hill Top’s eclectic menu includes items that reflect his and Brenda’s Greek, Cajun and Texas influences.   
After fathering three sons, Nicholas stepped up his music ventures, highlighted by Back to the Country in 1991.  Since then, he has released several more albums and returned to a more rigorous touring, songwriting and performance schedule.
Johnny Nicholas will support the release of Fresh Air with a series of dates in the Texas area, as well as showcase venues and festival dates around the country.

Friday, July 8, 2016

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










BOBBY RUSH SIGNS TO ROUNDER RECORDS;
FIRST NEW ALBUM, PORCUPINE MEAT,
SLATED FOR SEPTEMBER 16 RELEASE

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.