Full moons over the Horsemen’s Club

This may be something that happens more often among habitual comic-book readers than with the general public, but have you ever noticed that certain public situations look like the work of a specific comic artist, animated for real life? You stumble into a biker bar and immediately are reminded of S. Clay Wilson’s Checkered Demon. Or a static Saturday afternoon in Midtown brings Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World or native Sacramentan Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve into sharp focus. Or a blues show by Bobby Rush, who brought five musicians and three dancers to the stage at the Sacramento Horsemen’s Club on Sunday, for the last of this year’s blues-barbecue shows from promoter Mike Balma and his Sacramento Heritage Festival crew, evokes former Winters resident Robert Crumb.

Rush must be lying about his age, because he looks damn good for a 68-year-old; most people that age are way past karate kicks. He changed outfits a few times, but he always looked sharp (which, if you saw the Richard Pearce-directed second episode of Martin Scorsese’s recent seven-part PBS series The Blues, you’ll recall.) Rush’s band—two guitarists; his son, who played bass; a drummer; and a keyboard player with an ear for cheesy synth sounds—provided a supple backing for Rush’s Johnny “Guitar” Watson-styled funk and soul vamps. But the dancers stole the show, with a vision straight out of one of Crumb’s zaftig-goddess epiphanies.

Imagine three fine ladies straight from a Jimmy Castor Bunch record who could’ve starred in a Sir Mix-a-Lot video, with their ample backsides to the crowd. We’re talking serious butt action here: One dancer, from Texas—“They grow ’em big down there,” Rush commented—treated the audience to an extended workout of her Brobdingnagian gluteus-maximus muscles, which rippled in time to the beat as she bent down low, giving the front row a rather swell view. “And it don’t just talk,” Rush jibed as he positioned a microphone right underneath. “It can sing.” And the band went “Bomp! Bomp! Bomp! Bomp! Bomp!” as her rump quaked in perfect time.

Not everyone was amused. A few women, heading out the door, muttered that Rush’s show was “degrading to women.” From one point of view, it was. Nevertheless, as classic rhythm-and-blues burlesque, and as a celebration of massive callipygy—or, shall we say, bountiful boo-tay—Rush’s show was a resounding success. And the music was pretty good, too. The middle act, a Los Angeles-based club band called Café R&B, featured a stunning singer named Roach, who brought a young Tina Turner to mind. And young Canadian guitarist Anthony Gomes was a riveting opener.

Balma’s next blues show at the Horsemen’s Club won’t happen until mid-February, when he brings in an all-Texas lineup, including W.C. Clark, Smokin’ Joe Kubek with Bnois King, Kay Kay and the Rays, and Cricket Taylor.