Bobby Rush and Frayser Boy backed by the Hi Rhythm Section,
Three Generations Of Delta Musicians Spanning Blues, Soul And Hip Hop Come Together For “Take Me To The River” Tour This Fall
Featuring Performances From William Bell, Bobby Rush, Charlie Musselwhite, Frayser Boy, Al Kapone + More
This fall, the producers of the acclaimed documentary “Take Me To The River” will present an extensive nationwide tour, which – like the film itself - will bring together multiple generations of iconic Memphis and Mississippi Delta musicians, and chart the musical evolution of the region from blues to soul to hip hop. Following historic performances at Bonnaroo, SXSW, and more, this inaugural tour will feature Grammy winners William Bell, Bobby Rush, and Charlie Musselwhite, as well as performances from Frayser Boy, Al Kapone, the Hi Rhythm Section and Boo Mitchell, with special guests appearing in certain markets. The second leg of the tour, which kicks off in January, will be headlined by William Bell, Bobby Rush, and Don Bryant. Full itinerary below.
In addition to performance events, the tour will also host educational workshops and activities for students as it moves around the country, helping to inspire the goals of social consciousness and community building.
The 2017 Grammy winner for Americana Album of the Year and member of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, William Bell is primarily known for his central role in shaping the sound of modern soul, funk and blues at the legendary Stax Records. His work has been performed and sampled by artists from Jimi Hendrix to Kanye West. He will be joined on stage by fellow headliners Bobby Rush, the Grammy-winning “King of the Chitlin’ Circuit” (Rolling Stone); and Blues Hall of Fame member and Grammy winner Charlie Musselwhite, who has collaborated with John Lee Hooker, Cyndi Lauper, Ben Harper + more. The acclaimed Hi Rhythm Section, who have 27 Gold and Platinum albums to their name (including all of Al Green’s classics) will serve as house band. All will be under the musical direction of Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, famed producer and owner of Royal Studios in Memphis and son of the late Willie Mitchell – who founded the studio and helmed Hi Records, label home to soul greats such as Al Green, Syl Johnson, Ann Peebles and more.
The events will also highlight a newer generation of Delta artists, including the Academy Award-winning rapper Frayser Boy (well known for his collaborations with Three 6 Mafia) and Critics Choice Award-winning rapper Al Kapone, whose resume includes collaborations with everyone from Lil’ Jon to the North Mississippi Allstars.
"Take Me To The River" previously premiered at the SXSW Film Festival, where it received the highly prized Audience Award. A celebration of Memphis’ ever-evolving music scene – featuring deep dives into the careers of Mavis Staples, Bobby Rush, Yo Gotti, Snoop Dogg + more – the documentary earned recognition from the New York Times (“vibrant”), the Boston Globe (“a moving mash-up”), Paste (“unforgettable”) and more. The documentary is currently available for streaming on Netflix, and the accompanying soundtrack earned raves from USA Today, Esquire + more
Soul singer, songwriter and producer WILLIAM BELL was instrumental in shaping the sound of Stax Records.
Bell recorded his first sides as a member of the group the Del Rios. In 1961, he made his solo recording debut with the classic single, “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” which became one of the fledgling label’s first major hits.
After a two-year stint in the Armed Forces, William released his first full-length album in 1967, the classic The Soul of a Bell, which included the Top 20 hit single, “Everybody Loves a Winner.” That same year, blues great Albert King recorded what came to be his signature tune, “Born Under a Bad Sign,” also written by Bell, which has since become one of the most-recorded blues songs.
Among his other classic hits at Stax were “Any Other Way,” “Never Like This Before,” “A Tribute to a King” (William’s personal tribute to Stax legend Otis Redding), “I Forgot to be Your Lover,” his internationally-acclaimed duet with Judy Clay, “Private Number,” and the perennial Christmas music favorite, “Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday.”
As a performer, he is probably best known for 1961’s “You Don't Miss Your Water” (covered by The Byrds and Taj Mahal); 1968’s “Private Number,” and “Tryin' to Love Two,” Bell's only US top 40 hit, which also hit #1 on the R&B charts. Upon the death of Otis Redding, Bell released the well-received memorial song “A Tribute to a King.”
As a songwriter, Bell co-authored the Chuck Jackson hit “Any Other Way” (a cover of Bell’s original recording), “I Forgot to Be Your Lover” (covered by Billy Idol in his 1986 hit “To Be a Lover"). It has since been sampled by Ludacris (on “Growing Pains”) and Jaheim on “Put That Woman First”), among many other artists.
Bell’s other recordings include “Every Day Will be a Holiday,” “Tryin’ to Love Two,” “I Don’t Want to Wake Up Feeling Guilty,” and “Headline News.”
His latest album, "This Is Where I Live", WON a 2017 Grammy Award.
Bobby Rush Bio:
BOBBY RUSH is a blues musician, composer and singer. His style incorporates elements of blues, funk and rap. Born in Homer, Louisiana, he moved with his family to Arkansas, where he formed a band with Elmore James. In the 1970s his song “Chicken Heads,” which he wrote as well as sang, made it to the R&B charts. He next recorded his first album, “Rush Hour, with one track, “I Wanna Do the Do” also charting in 1979.
In the early 1980s, Rush moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where he recorded a series of records for various labels, including his own Deep Rush label. “FolkFunk” (2004) was a return to rootsier sound, featuring guitarist Alvin Youngblood Hart. He appeared in the film, “The Road to Memphis,” part of the series “The Blues,” produced by Martin Scorsese.
Rush received recognition for his music after the release of his 22nd album, “Rush,” when he was awarded Best Male Soul Blues Artist at the Blues Music Awards. He also won “Best Acoustic Artist” and “Best Acoustic Album” for his album “Raw.” His album, “Hoochie Mama,” was nominated for a Grammy in the Blues Music Section in 2000. His most recent albums are “Show You a Good Time” and “Down In Louisiana.”
In 2013, Rush was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the Soul Blues Male Artist category. In 2014, Rush's album “Down In Louisiana,” won a Blues Music Award in the “Soul Blues Album of the Year” category, and Rush was also nominated in two other categories.
His latest album, "Porcupine Meat", WON a 2017 Grammy Award.
Charlie Musselwhite Bio:
Mississippi-born CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE is an electric blues harmonica player, singer, and bandleader, and one of the most revered musicians in the world. He has won countless awards during his career including induction into the Blues Hall of Fame and collaborated with innumerable musical giants of the past fifty years including John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Big Joe Williams, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Tom Waits, Eddie Vedder, to name to name a few.
Musselwhite has received ten Grammy nominations , winning for “Get Up!” (2013, released by the recently revived Stax label), a collaboration with Ben Harper. He has also won 14 W.C. Handy Awards, 27 Blues Music Awards, as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Monterey Blues Festival, among many other honors. Musselwhite was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010.
Moving to Chicago in the early 60s, he recorded “Stand Back! Here Comes Charlie Musselwhite’s Southside Band,” in 1966 at age 22. The following year, Musselwhite moved to San Francisco. Since then he has recorded more than twenty albums.
Over the years, Musselwhite has branched out in style. His 1999 recording, “Continental Drifter,” is accompanied by Cuarteto Patria, from Cuba's Santiago region, the Cuban music analog of the Mississippi Delta. For the first half of 2011, Musselwhite toured with the acoustic-electric blues band Hot Tuna. In the latter half of 2011, he went on tour with Cyndi Lauper. His latest record is “Juke Joint Chapel” (2013).
Frayser Boy Bio:
Academy Award Winner Frayser Boy is a rapper from Memphis, Tennessee. He won the Best Original Song Academy Award for "It's Hard Out Here for Pimp" from the movie "Hustle & Flow". His debut album on Three 6 Mafia's Hypnotize Minds label, "Gone on That Bay", was released in 2003. He followed with two more albums for Hypnotize Minds, "Me Being Me" in 2005, and "Da Key" in 2008. In 2014 he appeared in the film "Take Me to the River" from Martin Shore, in a collaboration with blues legend Bobby Rush.
Boo Mitchell Bio:
LAWRENCE “BOO” MITCHELL (Producer) is an American musician, songwriter, audio engineer, record producer and owner of Royal Studios in Memphis. His father, Willie Mitchell, operated Royal Studios and was Vice President of Hi Records. He produced and arranged music for a variety of acts including Al Green, Ann Peebles, Syl Johnson and Buddy Guy. Mitchell began working with his father at a young age, accumulating rare credits and abilities. His own career began at age seventeen when he played keyboard on one of Al Green’s gospel albums which later won a Grammy award. Mitchell continued to work on albums alongside his father. Willie Mitchell died in 2010, leaving Royal Studios to “Boo.” Since 2010, Mitchell has produced or engineered a wide range of acts including Barbra Blue, Jay Gaunt, Axelle Red, Brandon O. Bailey, Solomon Burke, Cody Chesnutt, Snoop Dog, Bobby Rush, William Bell, Keb Mo, Terrence Howard and Boz Scaggs.
He won a Grammy Award for Engineering the Record of the Year for the Bruno Mars hit "Uptown Funk".
Al Kapone Bio:
AL KAPONE (Alphonzo Bailey) is an American rapper from Memphis. Kapone is known principally for his underground success in the Memphis hip hop scene in the 1990s. He began to achieve mainstream success with his role on the soundtrack for the film HUSTLE & FLOW (2005) The soundtrack included one solo track, titled “Get Crunk, Get Buck.” He also wrote and produced “Whoop That Trick” and wrote “Hustle & Flow (It Ain't Over),” both of which were performed by Three 6 Mafia’s Djay Paul. His song, “The Deepest Hood,” was featured in the 2007 film, STOMP THE YARD.
His albums include “Street Knowledge, Chapters 1-12,” “Sinista Funk,” “Pure Ghetto Anger,” “Da Resurrection,” “What Cha Got,” “Memphis to the Bomb Out Bay,” “Alkatraz Ridaz Chapter 2,” Memphis Drama Vol. 2,” Memphis Drama Vol. 3: Outta Town Luv,” “Showdown,” “Goin’ All Out,” “Poppin Tags” (EP),” “Al Kapeezy Oh Boy - The Hits!!,” “Showdown: Reloaded,” “Godfather EP,” “Guitar Bump,” and “The Kapeezy Soul Hop Experience.”
Kapone collaborated with several musicians including E-40, Mike Jones, Too Short, Pimp C, Pastor Troy and D-Shot. He co-wrote E-40’s “U and Dat” and Lil’ Jon’s “Snap Yo Fingers” and appeared on Three 6 Mafia’s album, “Last 2 Walk,” and “8Ball & MJG’s “Ridin High.”
Hi Rhythm Section Bio:
HI RHYTHM SECTION was the house band assembled by Willie Mitchell for his Royal Recording Studio in Memphis. The band, included the three teenage Hodges brothers, CHARLES HODGES (organ), LEROY HODGES (bass), and the late MABON “TEENIE HODGES (guitar), together with drummer Howard Grimes (or sometimes MGs drummer, the late Al Jackson, Jr.). Many recordings also used The Memphis Horns (Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love), usually with Willie’s brother James Mitchell arranging, and Mitchell’s stepson, Archie Turner, as an additional keyboard player. By the mid-1970s, they had appeared on 27 gold and platinum albums, and countless chart hits for Al Green, Ann Peebles, Syl Johnson, Otis Clay and others.
The Hodges brothers began playing together in their father's band, the Germantown Blue Dots, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Leroy Hodges then formed his own band, The Impalas, where he came into contact with Memphis trumpeter and bandleader Willie Mitchell. Younger brother “Teenie,” then an aspiring bass player, was unofficially adopted by Mitchell in the mid-1960s, and became a member of his regular band, soon joined by Charles and Leroy.
The Hodges brothers, with Grimes, recorded the 1976 LP “On the Loose” as Hi Rhythm, and 1994 saw the release of “Perfect Gentlemen,” featuring a fourth Hodges, Fred (keyboards, as well as Percy Wiggins on vocals. The band dissolved after Hi Records was sold in 1977, but regrouped as a touring band in 1979. Through the 1980s and early 1990s, the Hodges brothers toured with Albert Collins and Otis Clay, and periodically regrouped with Grimes and Turner. Charles Hodges left in the 1990s to become an ordained church minister.
Other band members continued to play together, sometimes with Jackson's cousin Steve Potts on percussion, providing their unique backdrops for Syl Johnson “Back in the Game” (1994), and the Willie Mitchell-produced Al Green comeback “I Can’t Stop.” They also toured with Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall), and were featured on her 2006 album “The Greatest.”