Bobby Rush, LIVE at Ground Zero (Deep Rush Video/Records, 2003)

One of the stars of the recent PBS film series The Blues was unquestionably Bobby Rush. He was featured in the third film of the series, The Road to Memphis. His career on the chitlin circuit was contrasted with that of BB King, who now plays Vegas and symphonic halls. Rush was shown playing in a club, which looked to be located in a shopping mall, or a bowling alley. Both men travel on buses. BB King's is like a five star hotel on wheels; Rush takes his turn driving while the regular driver rests. Such is the life of a blues musician. Rush has been struggling to make a living playing the blues for fifty years. His goal is to be as big as BB King. He recently started his own label, Deep Rush, and LIVE at Ground Zero is his first release.

Ground Zero is a club readers of Green Man Review will remember from the DVD Last of the Mississippi Jukes. It's a faithful recreation of an old style juke joint, owned in part by actor Morgan Freeman. Bobby Rush is a regular there, and has videotaped one hot show for this release. Deep Rush has packaged it as a 2-disc set. Disc one is a DVD live video of the show, and disc two is the accompanying CD soundtrack. Whether you just listen, or take in the video action, Rush has provided an exciting, and, well, invigorating programme.

The music is wonderful, solid, rocking, smoking blues. The band is made up of Bruce Howard on drums, Terry Richardson, Stephen Johnson and Terrance Young on guitars, with Joseph Banks and Paul Brown on keyboards. They provide full and professional backing to Rush's strong, smokey vocals and steady harmonica solos. The lyrics on Rush's blues are his main downfall. In this politically correct world...he will never achieve the success of a BB King 'til he tones down the sexual innuendo in his songs. Okay...the blues is about sex! I admit it. Everybody knows that but in Bobby Rush's world...the sex is right in your face. It's funny, and brazen and...look at the titles. "She's So Fine," "What's Good For the Goose/Man Can Give It," "Tough Titty," "Young Tenderoni," and "That Thang." Maybe they don't sound so bad as titles...but they get fairly explicit, fairly quickly.

Was I offended? Well...no. But I know some people who would be. And then if you take that music from the CD and apply the videos to it...WHEW!!! Anyone who watched The Road to Memphis will recall instantly the dancer with the ample behind who gave new meaning to "...shake that thang." Her posterior displays independent suspension...if you get my drift! And she is just one of five dancers in the Bobby Rush show! My seventeen year old son was fascinated by these dancers. My wife was amazed. Dancers Loretta Harris-Wilson, Loretta "Jazzii" Anderson, Shakila Waldington, Georgia Brunt and Pamela D. Pruohit have some moves that have to be seen to be believed.

So here's a DVD (with a soundtrack CD) in a nifty little package. An hour of contemporary blues, well played and sung. With the added attraction of some real visual entertainment for the entire family! How can you go wrong? Will Bobby Rush ever replace BB King? I doubt it. But for some fine, authentic down home cookin' look no further!

 

[David Kidney]