To Do Lists

To Do Lists

Gang,

I have found that to-do lists are a waste of time. Worse! They make you feel guilty about all the things you didn’t get done that you might have accomplished if only you were a better person. Then there’s the conundrum regarding whether you should put the most important things at the top of the list, or the most urgent even if they’re not all that important. And that gets you into the tangle of agonizing over whether buying the ice cream is actually important, or if it just seems that way. But, ah! Perhaps the most onerous chores should go first, on the theory that once they’re out of the way the rest will seem easy by comparison. (A best-selling book has been written espousing that theory.)

No! It’s all bull-poopy (excuse my language)! My new, improved system is to do whatever I feel like, then put it on a list and check it off. It gives me that glowing sense of accomplishment without wasting half the day agonizing over the illusion that any of it is actually significant in the overall scheme of things.

I will now take this brilliant insight, fluff it up to a 180 page self-help book with illustrations and charts, add a few Zen overtones and make a fortune. Kind of like the “Eat-Whatever-You-Want Diet ”. (I don’t know if that exists, but if not, it will be my sequel.)

The new Voices LP is here!! (It trailed the CD by a couple of months because all the pressing plants on the planet are backed up—an investment opportunity, perhaps!) Don’t have a turntable? Not to worry—it comes with a download-card so you can listen to the music while holding the cover, fondly remembering the time when you did have a turntable, back in college. (I lured Appleseed Recordings out on this limb, and it’s a very limited edition—500 copies and almost 200 of them are gone already to the folks who supported this project on PledgeMusic. Supplies really are limited.


Shows coming up, all with Matt Nakoa:

Thursday, May 3rd, The Ark, Ann Arbor—a great room (we go way back!).

Friday, May 4th, Kent Stage, Kent, OH, with Christine Lavin, one of the funniest people alive!

Saturday, May 5th, the Ohio Folk Festival, Highbanks Metro Park in Lewis Center, OH (about half an hour north of Columbus). I’ll also be doing a workshop that afternoon at 3:00 PM, titled “The Creative Process”, wherein I will reveal the extent of my ignorance.

Sunday, May 5th, the Fur Peace Ranch, Pomeroy, Oh. This is an outfit run by Jorma Kaukonen. I was going to tell you to get tickets soon because this usually sells out, but I just went online an saw that it’s already sold out. Sorry!

 

Enjoy the spring!


Tom Rush

 

Quote of the Month:

“It is easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.”

Universally attributed to Mark Twain, though no evidence can be found that he actually wrote or said it, proving the point.

 

Getting Political

Getting Political

Gang,

I try very hard not to get political, on the notion that I’m trying to provide an oasis for folks from whatever problems they’re facing in their lives, a bit of respite from the tribulations. But there comes a point when you just have to speak up.

Read the full story . . .

Post Thanksgiving Thanks

Post Thanksgiving Thanks

Gang,

Given all the depressing, appalling, frightening, disgusting (I could go on) things that are happening in our world today, I have decided to take refuge in gratitude. Despite all the Bad, every day we are all surrounded by things, people, moments that are wonderful, beautiful, transcendent—and I don’t want to lose sight of them because I’m focused on the nasty stuff.  Read the full story . . .

Behind the scenes recording with Matt Nakoa | Photo Neale Eckstein

Life has been way too busy

Gang,

It’s been a while! Life has been way too busy lately — I thought things were supposed to slow down at this stage of life.

The new album, to be called “Voices,” is nearing completion and should be released early in 2018 (though PledgeMusic supporters will be getting their copies around Christmas). The recording was done in Nashville with Jim Rooney as producer and “Rooney’s Irregulars” as the session players — I couldn’t be happier with the results. Here’s a sample: Elder Green.

The original completion date was in early October, but some of life’s curveballs slowed me down, as they seem to do with alarming regularity. The artwork, and then manufacturing, are the remaining hurdles and we’re knocking them over one at a time.

I’m flying home to Maine as I’m writing this. (Did I mention that we’ve moved, again, this time to Maine? So many moves! This Witness Protection Program isn’t as much fun as you’d think.) Much of Maine is without power at the moment in the aftermath of a violent wind and rain storm that went through while I was in DC and Maryland celebrating Tom Paxton’s 80th birthday and Oscar Brand’s life and career—two very excellent musical parties! The next few days will, I expect, be spent dealing with downed limbs, keeping from freezing (it’s supposed to be several days before the lights come back on) and finding drinkable water.

Upcoming shows (all with the fabulous Matt Nakoa on keyboards):
* Friday, November 3rd, Scituate, MA, at the River Club
* Saturday, November 4th, Fall River, MA, at the Narrows
* Wednesday, November 8th, Cleveland, OH, at the Music Box
* Thursday, November 9th, Minneapolis, MN, at the Dakota
* Saturday, November 11th, Green Lake, WI, at the Thrasher Opera House
* Sunday, November 12th, Chicago, IL, at the Old Town School

Check out the upcoming shows page for details about shows later in the year, and stay tuned for the album-release announcement!

All the best,


Tom Rush

Scattered thought of the month:
I like the line in Elder Green, “He’s got greenbacks, sweet babe, enough to make a man a suit.” I was thinking of having one made for myself, but calculations showed that a 2-piece in $100 bills would take $33,300, a 3-piece $42,800. I’ve determined, then, that I have enough greenbacks, sweet babe, to make a man some shorts. Maybe a thong. Once the kid is out of college. Something to look forward to!

Even More Scattered Thoughts

Even More Scattered Thoughts

Gang,

Just a couple of things for your consideration.

  • Call me a sentimental fool, but it would seem to me that, in the richest nation on earth, the object could be to give more people health insurance, and better, not less and worse. Who benefits?
  • Lately, I’m being inundated with email solicitations for walk-in bathtubs, reverse mortgages, electric stair climbers, annuities, bacteria that will grow me a full head of hair, wrinkle creams, a product enticingly called “SnorBGone” and cannabis gummy bears. Are they trying to tell me something?
  • When a mermaid gets the crabs, it’s serious. Stay away!

What's Wrong with America

What’s Wrong with America (youtube)The new album project is moving forward, thanks to those of you who’ve gone to PledgeMusic and generously participated. The recording part is done (though I may tweak a bit) but the artwork, the manufacturing—all that stuff—remains, and help is still needed and very much appreciated!

Gigs coming up, all with the amazing Mr Matt Nakoa at the keyboards:

  • The Center for the Arts Natick TCAN this Friday and Saturday. Natick, MA. _ –– A very cool room! 
  • The Town Crier in Beacon, NY, this coming Sunday. –– The Crier is hands down the best music club for miles around, we’re hoping that Marshal Rosenberg will be joining us on percussion.

There are even more dates coming up, so check out the upcoming shows page for more details.

Enjoy the summer, don’t forget the sunscreen!

All the best,


Tom Rush

Quote of the month:

“To me – old age is always ten years older than I am.”
–– Bernard Baruch

Scattered Thoughts – May 3, 2017

Scattered Thoughts – May 3, 2017

Gang,

The roller coaster picks up speed, and thoughts are even more scattered than usual.

First and foremost, some misguided souls have taken my comments about the Big Record Companies, and how they want your soul and at least one kidney, to apply to the little labels, and to Appleseed in particular. WRONG! There are folks out there like Jim Musselman, running small operations because they love the music, and they are the heroes! I’m only down on the multi-nationals who regard artists as a disposable commodity and profit as the only goal.

Not all Chinese Cresteds are Ugly!
Not all Chinese Cresteds are Ugly!

Second, I got mentioned in the New York Times Science Times section last week. Not because of my towering intellect, or because I discovered a cure for anything (except boredom), but because I was misconstrued—again!—as disparaging a dog, or, more accurately, a breed of dogs.

 

The Ugliest Dog in the World was, for years, a Chinese Crested named Sam, who lived near us in Santa Barbara, and was a source of great civic pride. When an interviewer writing his obituary speculated that Sam, in spite of his looks, was probably very sweet, his owner said, “No, he was a really foul-tempered son of a bitch.” Sam has now gone to his reward and his title has passed on to another, who, hopefully, did not also inherit his temperament. (Our family’s Chinese Cresteds have all been extraordinarily lovely and/or handsome, intelligent and sweet!)

The Pledge Music campaign is hitting its stride! We’ve reached our goal of funding the recording sessions and are now working on paying for the artwork, the manufacturing (we’re going to do an LP as well as the CD!), the promotion and all that stuff you didn’t plan on. We’ve added a cool new enticement (a video greeting from me to your loved one on a special occasion), and for those who still haven’t visited the site, there is still some pretty cool stuff, including rare, out-of-print LPs and cassettes—check it out! (For those of you who have pledged, you’ll be getting exclusive behind-the-scenes from Nashville, including rough mixes and session pictures.)

And for those of you in the Boston area (or who have a computer or smartphone) I’ll be on WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio” 89.7fm, this Friday at 12:30 PM Eastern, with hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. Give a listen.

No shows coming up, just recording sessions next week. Send positive energy!

All the best,


Tom Rush

One more scattered thought: It came to me in a vision—why not open up Central Park to logging, oil and gas extraction? It breaks my greedy little heart, seeing all those trees just standing there, going to waste. The Boston Common? Why not? These are, from a certain point of view, wasted resources! I’m just sayin’ …

You guys are amazing! – April 22, 2017

You guys are amazing! – April 22, 2017

Gang,

You guys are amazing! Two weeks into a 10-week campaign on Pledge Music, we’re 83% of the way to our goal. (P. M. says they like to see their campaigns reach 25% in the first week—we got there in the first 2 hours! So some very special thanks to you first responders.)

I don’t want to get all gooshy on you or anything, but it really does mean a lot to me that you have stuck with me over the years, through a lot of adventures (and, admittedly, a mis-adventures or two). I was asked recently, “Why are you still doing this?” (I think he meant in the nicest way, but he might have been saying, “Where’s Jack Kevorkian when we really need him?”) The honest reason I’m still at it is that making music for you guys is still a thrill for me—I’ll keep at it as long as you keep listening. You make me feel good!

As a way to entice you back to PledgeMusic (or maybe get you there for the first time) we’ve added a couple of things. While rummaging about in a storage locker I happened upon a box of cassettes from years gone by. (One of these, “Work In Progress,” never made it on to any other format, others have been out of print for decades.) I have not yet found the mother lode of wax cylinders or 8-track tapes, but will continue to search.

I’ve now used up my allotment of exclamation points and parentheses, so I’ll close by mentioning that I have four upcoming dates, so check them out on the shows page. As usual, if you can’t attend, send a friend.

Thanks again, gang. Enjoy the Spring …


Tom Rush

Quote of the month:

“People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”
–– Maya Angelou

LEDs & Other Threats – March 30, 2017

LEDs & Other Threats – March 30, 2017

Gang,

The room I’m in has 25 LEDs in it. I just counted them. Orange ones, white ones, red ones. Some blink, some just stare. Light switches, the smoke alarm, computer, printer, modem, power strips—the list goes on.

 I’m coming to believe that they are something like early one-celled life in the primordial oceans. It is their way of saying, “I am!” The ones that blink, of course, are saying, “I blink, therefore I am.” The poor old devices that have no LEDs are more like rocks, inert and dumb, the creations of mere humans.

While the devices with simple LEDs are admittedly still primitive, they are evolving rapidly. Some of these things now beep when you poke at them, and others—way too many of them—display the time of day. In the kitchen, too many gadgets want you to know that they know what time it is, and while they may have differing opinions on this matter, it is still disturbing. Have you wondered why a toaster has to tell you the time? It is asserting a modicum of authority, of superiority, over you. “I know the time and you don’t.” If you tell it that you do, in fact, know the time, it will haughtily ignore you. (I know this because I’ve tried it.)

Now, I don’t want to sound paranoid, but I think they’re coming to get us. It’s just a start with the shining, blinking, beeping and time-telling, but mark my words, it’s rapidly going to turn into something ugly. Consider this: the screen you’re looking at right now, the one you spend entirely too much time staring at in a semi-hypnotic state, is made of millions of tiny little LEDs.

I’m just saying. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

Don’t just sit there, take action! Run screaming from your home and come to one of the upcoming shows!

 

Stay warm! If you’re trying to make maple syrup, good luck! From what I hear the weather has been too squirrely for the sap to flow.

Your pal,


Tom Rush

Tom Rush

50,000 Watts – Jan 26, 2017

50,000 Watts – Jan 26, 2017

Gang,

Some 50 years ago, late at night, I’d listen to radio station WWVA out of Wheeling, West Virginia. They were a powerhouse, 50,000 Watts (the legal maximum in the US) “Clear Channel,” (meaning that no other domestic station had that frequency). AM stations bounce their signals off the ionosphere, and when that layer gains altitude at night, a clear channel station can be heard many hundreds of miles from the transmitter. (Dick Summer on Boston’s WBZ, another 50K CC station, got fan mail from Guam on one occasion.)

 

WWVA played, of course, country music, which I loved, but I was equally intrigued by the ads. By way of example, they were at one point selling a, “Handy, Dandy Bug Killer, absolutely guaranteed, folks, to kill any bug that creeps, crawls or flies! So simple a child can operate it, following the simple instructions on the package!” What you got for $4.99 (plus $3 in postage) was two small blocks of wood. One of the blocks had an X painted on it, and the simple instructions were, “Place bug on the X and slap.” They sold a ton of them. (Mine worked real good!)

Now, I’m not for one minute drawing parallels between this and the recent election (the Handy Dandy was not, for example, made in Russia, and Trump’s campaign did not overtly say, “Place disadvantaged people and the environment on the X and slap”), but the point is that sometimes you don’t get what you thought you bought. Or you do, but it doesn’t work the way you’d expected. Or at all.

Enough! The first shows of 2017 are coming right up – check out the shows page!

Keep the faith, and stay warm!


Tom Rush

Tom Rush

Quote of the month:

The winner in the Mis-Appropriating Songs for Jingles contest is an actual ad run during the holidays by the Chicken Ranch, a legal brothel outside Las Vegas: “I’ll Be Prone For Christmas.”

(Submitted by John Harrow)