Bobby Rush may sing the blues, but he rarely gets them.
ďIím just enthused about what I do ó Iím blessed and so lucky to be in a position to love what Iím doing,Ē says the 66-year-old R&B songwriter and performer, a Louisiana native (born Emmet Ellis Jr.) best known for his 1971 hit ďChicken Heads.Ē
ďIíve been recording now for 51 years, and Iím just as enthused about it as I was 50 years ago. To me itís not about the money; itís about the career and being able to keep playing this music.Ē
Rush, whose latest release is an acoustic album called ďRaw,Ē has the chance to do that this year as part of The Blues is Alright Tour, a 20-city jaunt thatís been dubbed the Detroit City Blues Festival this weekend. Such packages, he says, serve both the artists and the audiences and make a good case for a kind of music thatís often relegated to the background.
ďThis shows people still love the roots of music, the blues,Ē says Rush, who still performs a high-energy set wearing fl amboyant costumes, with dancers as part of the act. ďRadio stations donít give it respect anymore. But when people see this tour they say, ĎDamn, the blues is still there. The chitliní circuit is still alive. These guys still do good music.í
ďItís working good, and itís a team kind of thing. Itís not just Bobby Rush, although Iím trying to kick butt out there. But when itís over, I want people to say, ĎWasnít that a good show?í I want to be the better one, but I donít want people to say I was the only one.Ē
The Detroit Blues Festival, featuring Bobby Rush, Bobby Blue Bland, Latimore, Mel Waiters, Theodis Ealey, Marvin Sease and Shirley Brown, takes place at 4:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday (March 10) at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway, Detroit. Tickets are $47.50-$55. Call (313) 237-7464 or visit www.motopera.org.
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