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Interview:
Bobby Rush at the Masonic, 3 Things To Know
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Buddy Guy, who just turned 80 this summer, is widely recognized as the reigning king of the blues. But at 82 Bobby Rush is still kickin' and stating his case.

The Louisiana native (born Elmer Ellis Jr.) started out playing a bucket and broom handle with a single wire attached to it, but he built himself up to six strings and played the chitlin' circuit before eventually moving to Chicago, where he studied at the feet of bluesmen such as Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters and worked with the likes of Jimmy Reed and Etta James.

A Grammy Award winner and Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Rush is best known for his 1971 hit "Chicken Heads," and in September he released a new album called "Porcupine Meat." He declares in one of his song that "I Don't Want Nobody Hanging Around," but he's still hanging in there -- and we're happy for that...

"Porcupine Meat" -- which features guest appearances by Joe Bonamassa, Dave Alvin and Keb' Mo' -- is by Rush's estimate, his 374th release. Whether true or not, he sounds fresh and revitalized, and he's confident he's put his best foot forward this time out. "This was the best thing that ever happened to me," he says. "I was convinced by the producer (Scott Billington), who asked me to do this. I thought he wanted me to do something he was familiar with from other artists, but, no, he wanted me to bring Bobby Rush to the table. That's how I knew he was really interested in doing this."

After more than six decades of recording, "Porcupine Meat" marks the first time Rush recorded in his home state of Louisiana. "I was on cloud nine when I came back," Rush recalls about the sessions. "that's my home state. It's in me all the time. It's part of me and it's always been there, but it was great to make a record down there after all this time. (Billington) started picking musicians from down there to play on it; I didn't know some of the musicians well but they knew me well and were fans of mine and wanted to play with me, not because of the money but because they thought so much of me, and I was really flattered by that. I think it comes out on the album."

For the record, Rush has never actually eaten porcupine meat. "Get out of here, man!" he says with a laugh by phone. "I know about it, though. When I was a kid I didn't know anybody who ate them, and they were always too dangerous to play with, with the little stickers in 'em. I'm really not talking about porcupine, though; The song's talking about a situation where you're damned if you do, damned if you don't, like if you leave somebody for

someone else, you may get someone bad or worse, so stick wtih what you got."

Bobby Rush with Millie Jackson, Latimore, Jessie James and Theodos Ealey

8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12.

Masonic Temple, 500 Temple Ave., Detroit.

Tickets are $65 and $55.

Call 313-832-7100 or visit themasonic.com.

Web Site: www.themasonic.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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