Rush’s father worked in their local church as a pastor. He was responsible for being one of the first people to inspire him into playing music. The father and son would jam together, the father playing his guitar, while Bobby played on make shift instruments around the house. It was in 1946 that he and his family shifted to Arkansas, residing in Pine Buff. There, his father became a pastor and they settled down for a few years. During his time here, Rush met other musicians like him. He befriended Elmore James,
another singer, Boyd Gilmore
, a slide player, and Moose John Walker,
a pianist. Because they were still too young, the foursome would often put on fake mustaches so they would be allowed in open mic events around town.
The first time ever that Rush was introduced to the blues was in Nashville, Tennessee by a man called Hoss Man. The artist came from his own hometown of Homer, Louisiana and he would play the blues live on radio back there as well. He learnt, even as a young boy, that he was absolutely in love with the genre. Even though he had heard it before back home, it was in Nashville that he truly began to recognize it and associate it with its many unique instruments. At this time, there were perhaps only two radio stations that would popularly play the blues. Other than those particular radio stations, there was no way to properly get a taste of the genre. Rush had to sing it to himself or have someone else sing it to him if he ever wished to hear it. Rush, as a young musician from the 1940s, also began to associate the blues with black people. It was usually African American women and men who would sing this genre of music. It was only fitting that the budding singer would be so closely influenced by this fact and would feel like he fell in place with the music and all those who represented it. This was also how he developed his first sense of self identity: a blues singer from Louisiana.
Soon, Rush began to play at various radio stations, performing with a three man band. He would also play around clubs and cafes and began to be known as the consummate entertainer. To this date, he maintains his vigor and enthusiasm on the stage, frequently changing costumes in between different sets and dancing around the audience and interacting with them as he sings. He always serenades women in the audience, dedicating entire songs to them, or calling them on stage and singing to them. A classic Rush concert would consist of a lot of audience interactivity, making everyone feel at home and a part of the show. Bobby Rush’s Christmas Party tickets
would then definitely be worth the while if you are looking for a bluesy, retro night out.
During his career, Bobby Rush has established bases in different parts of the country. He started out in Louisiana, then travelled to Arkansas to further enhance his music, went to Chicago where he learnt to be a more flamboyant performer, and finally settled in Jackson, Mississippi, a place he has resided in since the 1980s. When he first started out, he was a one man band singing his songs to a diddley bow, made from a single broom wire. He took all that he had learnt from his father regarding musicality and brought it to his own music.
His debut album, "Chicken Heads" is still a Billboard
classic and is considered one of the best R&B records ever written. Even though it was at first released through a small label, Rush’s songwriting skills managed to shine through as they have been for over 60 years that he has been a performer.
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