Blues Hall of Famer Bobby Rush will cook up a musical supper in Park City
What: Bobby Rush
When: 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, and Saturday, Nov. 23; 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24
Where: The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
Cost: Friday tickets range from $35-$55. Saturday and Sunday tickets run from $39-$60
Bobby legend Rush, who will perform Friday through Sunday at the Egyptian Theatre, considers the stage his “heart, soul and home.”
“When the audience comes to see me, it’s like they’re knocking on my door,” said Rush, a 12-time Blues Music Award winner and an inductee in the Blues, Mississippi Musicians and Rhythm and Blues hall of fames. “I like to step to the edge of the stage and invite them in. Now, I may not have the best dinner, but I made it the best I could.”
The musical dinner Rush will offer Park City audiences this weekend will be culled from the 394 songs he has recorded throughout his 50-year career.
“I probably won’t do all those songs, but I will play some of them,” he said with a laugh.
A few of the tunes can be heard on his new album, “Sitting On Top of the Blues,” his 26th studio album, which was released in August.
“The album’s title is significant because I’ve been alive long enough to know some things, but I’m smart enough to know I don’t know anything,” Rush said with another laugh. “I think I’m on top of my game today, because I feel good. I’m still enthused. I’m still learning.”
“Sitting On Top of the Blues” is Rush’s follow-up to 2017’s “Porcupine Meat,” which won a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album.
“When I won that award, I immediately had a problem, which was having to compete with myself,” he said. “I knew the next album would have to be as good or better. And I knew I had to come up with something my fans related to, but would also take a different kind of approach.”
So he hired producer Vasti Jackson.
“Vasti is a guitarist who has played on 150 of my records, and since he is such a talented guitar player I brought him in as a producer,” Rush said. “My goal with Vasti was for him to enhance what I wanted to do, because I wasn’t trying to go backwards. I was and am always trying to move forward.”
The secret of getting the sound right on “Sitting On Top of the Blues” was listening to Jackson’s suggestions, Rush said.
“I have learned how to listen, and I would listen more if I had more people who want to talk to me,” he said with another chuckle. “Nevertheless, I think I’m smart enough to listen to the young people’s approach.”
Keeping an open mind and positive attitude about the music and about other artists has helped Rush continue his learning.
“I don’t have to like the artists or be a friend to them, to like their music,” he said. “If they have good music and do a good job. I respect that.”
His list of favorite music includes songs by blues staples such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and B.B. King, but he also likes funk and soul icons like Prince and Stevie Wonder, and the jazz great Count Basie.
“Heck, I also like country-western music,” Rush said.
The first tune he fell in love with when he was a kid was the “Crawdad Song,” which starts off with the words, “You get the line and I get the pole.”
“When you hear my music, you will hear all of these elements,” he said. “You put them all in a bowl and stir it up and you that’s when you come up with the Bobby Rush soup.”
Rush, who started his career in the Midwest as a teen donning a fake mustache so he could play juke joints before his family moved to Chicago in the early 1950s, said he is proud of the music he’s made for 68 years.
“They call me the King of the Chitlin Circuit, because I have a black audience and a white audience,” he said. “Now, it wasn’t a back or white issue when I started, because it was all about what I love to do. And I’m so blessed and thankful that I can serve fans on both sides of the fence.”
The gratitude also spurs Rush to play the best music he can for his audiences.
“I feel I owe the public something, because I have a lot of older fans who have been with me for a long time,” he said. “I also play with a lot of musicians who have been with me for a long time. So I feel I need to supply jobs for them. Sometimes, though, I wish someone would say, ‘Hey, I’m quitting,’ so I wouldn’t be obligated to them.”
Still, Rush, who turned 86 on Nov. 10, said he can’t wait to perform at the Egyptian Theatre, which seats 266.
“I love playing for 2,000 or 3,000 people, but I still love playing with 200 or 300 people,” he said. “I like it when you sit down and you can almost touch the audience’s knees from the stage. That kills me. It’s like I’m singing to just one person. You can see eye to eye. That knocks me out.”
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