Awww, Shut Up! It's the Bobby Rush ShowEven after five beers and a box of crayfish on the lawn in front of Mister Tater’s stunning show, the strain was starting to set in. We had been up since four am, with an equally sleepless night before that. And people that have recently shifted gears into holiday mode have this real tendency to apply the stresses of the workplace to their relaxation. One can spot them a mile off—their pale skin is exposed to suck up as much sunshine as possible, they may be double-fisting drinks, and all the while they seem to be muttering “Must. Have. Fun. Must. Have. Fun…” over and over through their clenched, smiling teeth.
This was totally happening to us, and we had to do something about it. Because although we were determined to have fun, we were equally as determined to penetrate THROUGH that determination and actually have fun for real—not just do some stuff that sounds fun but stress out about it the whole time.
We split off from the pack at Mister Tater’s show and wound up in the parking lot of Clarksdale’s V.F.W. hall. Bobby Rush was playing that night. Neither of us had heard of Bobby Rush before, but the parking lot was packed—we found a place and went right in.
Americans do not talk about racial issues all that much, with good reason. It’s so nuanced and personal and it just messes up the getting-to-know you process so badly that we drop it altogether. But you can’t talk about the blues or appreciating the blues without eventually either obviously ignoring or directly addressing racial issues.
We were two of maybe six total white people at the show. Not only was the crowd primarily black, they were mostly middle-aged and dressed incredibly well. Maybe these people had even better clothes at home than what they were wearing that night, and would be offended if I said it was their best. But every black man in the house had a better suit on than the one I wear to job interviews. All of the white people in attendance looked really shabby by comparison. There was this one super-goofy lady in jeans and a whitish polo shirt stained with barbecue sauce, and all the white folks in the crowd were wearing jeans. I had on the rumpled, bright-yellow Cramps t-shirt I had worn to bed the night before, the one that has more than two holes in the front, right next to the giant grinning skeletal face.
My shirt felt dirtier and brighter yellow as time passed. I felt like such a scrub, like the kid in everybody’s yearbook who wore a Batman t-shirt on school picture day. I am a huge fan of dress-down Friday, and have been known to openly molest the concept of Business Casual, but this situation was real and disrespectful. Finally I broke down and dashed outside to change my shirt in the parking lot, returning in a button-down with a jacket…
Bobby Rush performs a hilarious and nearly raunchy show that is one part blues, one part funk, and several parts burlesque. You might not want to see it twice, but you’ve got to see him once. It seems like his entire set is based on an appreciation for big butts, but he manages the one joke really well.
Here’s some pictures, video to follow (possibly.)