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Date: Thursday, December 14, 2023
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET (Doors open at 6:30 p.m., guests are asked to be seated by 6:55 p.m.)
Location: Performance Theater, Birthplace of Country Music Museum
Hosted by Kris Truelsen and his house band Bill and the Belles, Farm and Fun Time is a re-imagining of the classic WCYB Radio program of the same name that aired in the 1940s and 1950s. Radio Bristol’s Farm and Fun Time broadcasts live before a studio audience and recorded for television syndication on Blue Ridge PBS, East Tennessee PBS, and PBS North Carolina. It can be accessed on 100.1 FM in the Bristol area, or online at ListenRadioBristol.org and on Radio Bristol’s free mobile app. Viewers may also tune in to watch through Radio Bristol’s Facebook page.
About Bobby Rush
During his renowned stage show Bobby Rush frequently jumps high into the air, arms spread and legs tucked, only to land gracefully and return without a hitch to his dazzling routine. It’s a move you might expect at a contemporary R&B show, but it’s downright shocking when you realize that Rush is in his late 80s.
Rush’s busy schedule includes headlining European festivals with his band and solo programs at venues including Jazz at Lincoln Center, and he just recorded an album of brand new material, All My Love For You, coming out via his own label Deep Rush Records in collaboration with Nashville-based Thirty Tigers. Over the last several years he’s won a second Grammy, re-recorded his 1971 hit Chicken Heads together with his old friend Buddy Guy and young blues star Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, and written a critically acclaimed autobiography, I Ain’t Studdin’ You: My American Blues Story.
That story began in rural Homer/Haynesville, Louisiana, where Rush—born Emmett Ellis, Jr.—grew up on his family’s farm picking cotton, tending to mules and chickens, and living in a home without electricity nor indoor plumbing. He left behind farm work to perform on the road with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, and as “Bobby Rush”—a name he took on out of respect to his father, a minister—he toured the jukes and clubs of Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi before settling in Chicago in the 1950s. Through singles on labels including Chess, ABC and Philadelphia International and relentless touring Rush established an unparalleled reputation as an entertainer, which later led to him being crowned by Rolling Stone magazine as King of the Chitlin’ Circuit, the network of African American clubs that arose during the segregation era.
Based in Jackson, Mississippi since the early ‘80s, Rush began “crossing over” to new audiences several decades ago, featured in the Martin Scorsese-produced documentary The Road to Memphis, appearing alongside Terrence Howard, Snoop Dogg and Mavis Staples in the documentary Take Me to the River, and performing on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon along with Dan Aykroyd. And the eternally youthful Rush was even able to play himself in the 1970s in Netflix’s 2019 hit biopic Dolemite is My Name in a scene with Eddie Murphy. And the recognition keeps coming. In addition to his two Grammy wins (and six nominations), he’s in the Blues Hall of Fame, has won 16 Blues Music Awards (among 56 nominations), and there’s currently a musical in development called Slippin’ Through The Cracks with sights on Broadway, recently co-written by Rush and playwright Stephen Lloyd Helper, who co-wrote the 7x Tony-nominated musical Smokey Joe’s Café celebrating the songs of Lieber and Stoller.
Founded in 2019, Cole Ritter and The Night Owls have since been pioneering new sonic spaces and finding their very own home-grown sound that is completely new, yet nostalgic. This award-winning band is helmed by ColeRitter, a Nashville Native who has devoted his life to music. Cole Ritter and The Night Owls were chosen as the winner of Belmont’s University’s “Country Showcase” in 2020. Ritter’s songwriting draws inspiration from many genres including country, rock, folk, and the blues.
The Allstar backing band, The Night Owls, features a lineup of some of Nashville’s best and brightest up-and-coming instrumentalists and musicians. The Night Owls are made up of Alex Barcic on Pedal Steel Guitar, Tom Davis on Upright Bass, Christian Starrett on Guitar, and Matt Martirano on drums. Cole Ritter and The Night Owls are quickly rising and can’t wait to share their music with the world!
About Bill and the Belles
Farm and Fun Time house band Bill and the Belles is a Johnson City, Tennessee-based band known for combining a stringband format with their signature harmonies, candid songwriting, and pop sensibilities. Featuring Farm and Fun Time program host Kris Truelsen on guitar, fiddler Kalia Yeagle, banjo/banjo-uke player Aidan VanSuetendael, and bassist Andrew Small, the group has a knack for saying sad things with a bit of an ironic smirk, and anyone who’s been to one of their shows can attest that you leave feeling lighter and refreshed. This is a band that revels in the in-between: deeply engaged with the stringband tradition and eager to stretch those influences to a contemporary setting. A timeless place where Jimmie Rodgers and Phil Spector can overlap, and a driving fiddle and banjo tune makes way for a sentimental parlor song. And while Bill and the Belles’ latest chapter offers a bigger, moodier, and more decade-ambiguous sound, they maintain their status as the most refreshing stringband around.