For fifteen seconds a year, Steve Buttleman is the most famous man in America. On the first Saturday of every May, sporting his famous red jacket and tiny black hat, he marches from the white pagoda behind the Churchill Downs Winner's Circle, lifts a polished brass horn to his caramel-colored mustache, and plays "Call to Post." Buttleman's rendition—a brief ditty that signals jockeys to lead their horses into the starting gate—grabs the attention of movie stars in Millionaire's Row, infield drunks, and countless television viewers. It's also the sign for Kentucky Derby fans to clutch their betting slips and start praying.
Bobby Rush is intent on making it clear that he's the buoyant master of his domain. Not that this is news to anyone who knows him and his music. The Louisiana-born preacher's son generated some heat in the Chicago blues scene of the '60s, but he ultimately chose to head in the exact opposite direction of all those Delta bluesmen who'd migrated to Northern cities to find work; he'd bring his colorful show to the chitlin' circuit's middle-of-nowhere juke joints instead. Even as his visibility has risen, he's remained admirably loyal to working-class African-American audiences, and that's by design.
Being able to do music on that sort of scale, the scale of a world record—it’s just hard to do and still make it good with the restrictions of time and all. I’m really up for anything. I’d do whatever. I’d spit watermelon seeds, I’d grow my toenails long. I’d probably do way too many things.
His sophomore album, simply titled Do Things, leaves behind the ukulele prop and wry lyrics in pursuit of true, heartfelt posi-pop, still rife with glittering melodies and addictive hooks—it’s actually a perfect summer album worthy of any steamy afternoon.