Last year veteran Bobby Rush became a household name when his dynamic stage show was captured in the documentary "The Road to Memphis," Richard Pearce's contribution to Martin Scorsese's film series "The Blues."
The genesis of FOLK FUNK was Bobby Rush's longstanding desire to cut a traditional blues record that would evoke the sounds he heard as a boy in Louisiana and Arkansas during the '40s. Once in the studio, though, the record took on a life of its own. Putting aside the modern instrumentation of his more recent CDs, the stripped-down session featured just Rush, a simple rhythm section, and Memphis-based Alvin Youngblood Hart. Rush had brought in Hart to contribute his skills at traditional acoustic guitar, but the tone for the session was set with an impromptu jam on Rush's classic "Chicken Heads" that alerted Rush to Hart's eclecticism and musical imagination as an electric guitarist.
The resulting album, FOLK FUNK, covers a variety of styles, ranging from classic Chicago blues to traditional gospel to funk, but all unified by Bobby Rush's distinctive touch. Rush and Hart are backed by former Stax session drummer Charlie Jenkins and Rush band member Steve Johnson on bass.
Rush's Deep South Roots and unheralded guitar skills are on display on the swampy "Voodoo Man" and "Uncle Esau", a song inspired by a musical mentor from his childhood. "Ninety-Nine" showcases Rush's harmonica playing and features the jazzy riffs of Jackson-based guitarist Jesse Robinson, who led Rush's band following his relocation from Chicago to Jackson in the early '80s. Rush explores more traditional veins in the gospel vamp "Saints Gotta Move", the early '50s Chicago-style "Ride In My Automobile", and a funky interpretation of Percy Mayfield's "River's Invitation". FOLK FUNK is bookended by "Feeling Good", a jam whose stone cold groove captures the vibe of the five-hour session.
"It turned out to be something beyond roots, something that's also really funky and modern," says Rush of the CD. "I think it's a good record for people to see me for what I was, what I'm doing, and what I'm going to be."
- Feeling Good - Part One
- Uncle Esau
- Chicken Heads - Refired
- Ride In My Automobile
- River's Invitation
- Everybody Wants To Know
- Voodoo Man
- Get Back
- Saints Gotta Move
- Feeling Good - Part Two