Friday, August 5, 2016

CD Preview: Bobby Rush’s Porcupine Meat

Bobby Rush's Porcupine Meat
A new album from blues legend Bobby Rush appears roughly every eighteen months or so at this point in the singer’s lengthy, award-winning career but every new release is a cause for celebration. So get your party hats out, kiddies, ‘cause on September 16, 2016 Rounder Records will be releasing Porcupine Meat, the follow-up to Rush’s Grammy™ and Blues Music Award nominated 2014 album Decisions, which he recorded with the California blues band Blinddog Smokin’.

Porcupine Meat was recorded in New Orleans with producer Scott Billington, Rounder Records’ Vice President of A&R and a two-time Grammy™ Award winner. Happy to be making an album in his home state of Louisiana for the first time, Rush was accompanied in the studio by local talents like guitarist Shane Theriot, bassist Cornell Williams, pianist David Torkanowsky, and drummer Jeffrey “Jellybean” Alexander, among others. Porcupine Meat also features guest appearances by Rush’s longtime friend and collaborator, guitarist Vasti Jackson, who helped develop the Rush’s songs for the studio, as well as fleet-fingered fretburners like Dave Alvin, Keb’ Mo’, and Joe Bonamassa.

Rush’s vocals on Porcupine Meat are said to be raw, soulful, and passionate, his raging harp play displaying a different facet of his talents. Unlike some of his recent albums, Porcupine Meat includes no synthesizers and all of the rhythm tracks were recorded live in the studio, frequently edited down from extended instrumental jams. “He is the most vital bluesman of his generation,” says Billington in a press release for the album, “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.”          

The songs on Porcupine Meat will certainly please Rush’s older fans, while still appealing to newcomers. Says Billington, “We wanted to come up with something fresh while staying 100% true to Bobby.” A prolific songwriter with an estimated 300+ tunes to his credit, Rush has always been a sly, clever wordsmith and the material on the new album are no different. While Rush’s bawdy sense of humor is on display in the album’s title cut and songs like “Dress Too Short,” the singer can get serious as on the racial injustice described by “Got Me Accused.” For those old-school fans looking for a taste of Rush’s trademark ‘folk-funk’ sound, look no further than “Funk O’ De Funk.”

The 82 year old bluesman keeps rolling along with the energy and enthusiasm of musicians half his age or younger. Rush still performs more than 200 shows a year, touring across the Southern “Chitlin’ Circuit” as well as worldwide; in 2007, Rush was the first blues artist to play at the Great Wall of China. His recordings are universally acclaimed, and Rush has earned three Grammy™ nominations and won ten Blues Music Awards out of 41 nominations. Last year, Omnivore Recordings released a four-disc career retrospective, Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush in celebration of the beloved bluesman's lengthy career.

I can personally vouch that Rush is one of the nicest guys that you’ll ever meet in the music business, but he takes the accolades in stride. “I just try to record good music and stories,” he says in a press release for Porcupine Meat, and if past history is any indication, the album will only add to a legacy six decades in the making.

Buy the CD from Bobby Rush's Porcupine Meat

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