Bobby Rush's raucous, raunchy blues rocks the Marina Stage - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
2023.09.23 - Bobby Rush - XPoNential Music Festival 2023

Walking across Wiggins Park on Saturday evening, the faint sound of an a cappella harmonica cut through air. It was a moment of genuine, tender beauty on a grey day, but don’t get too cozy; Louisiana blues veteran Bobby Rush was just as apt to get nasty for this Saturday night XPNFest crowd.

At age 89 and supporting a new album called All My Love For You, Rush grooved and grinded, roared into the mic and worked the crowd for an exuberant, in-your-face set. Backed by a slamming band rocking some serious delta blues energy, the Louisiana native led a freewheeling setlist that included “You’re Gonna Need A Man Like Me,” the lead single from All My Love, as well as a hearty mix of back-catalog cuts like “Nightfishing,” and “Garbage Man,” one into the other into the other, sometimes keeping the same steady backbeat.

The playing was fire, especially Rush’s thrilling harmonica solos, but topically there were moments that veered into politically incorrect, is-this-okay territory. During one jam, Rush sang frankly of desire, centering around the refrain “she’s 19 years old.” While performing “G. String” later on, he riffed by asking audience members what they had in their wardrobes. For however much his content was raw, Rush’s warm, playful nature and charismatic personality were out front, especially in the chemistry he exhibited with backup vocalist and dancer Mizz Lowe.

As “That Thing” played out, he turned into the impact of his style on more contemporary popular music: “Without Bobby Rush, there’d be no Snoop Dogg, no 50 Cent. I started the rap game.” Smiling, he added “And they ain’t the only ones that stole stuff from me.” He turned his back to the crowd, slipped on a sequined silver glove, and faced front again, slamming into an upbeat “Billie Jean,” complete with MJ-esque dance moves that had the Marina Stage crowd roaring with delight.

Bobby Rush
XPoNential Music Festival
  • She's So Fine
  • Evil Is
  • You You You
  • A Man Can Give It
  • I Ain't Studdin' Ya
  • You Gonna Need A Man Like Me
  • That Thing
  • G. String
  • Chicken Head
  • Garbage Man
  • Nightfishing
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