Newsletter – February 7, 2012 – 41 MPG on Beer !

Newsletter – February 7, 2012 – 41 MPG on Beer !

February 7, 2012

The Fish Story Song and Other Stories

Gang,

I think I’ve figured out why the YouTube clip of the Remember Song has been jet propelled lately (it’s logged about a half-million plays since the first of the year). You guys have been posting the link on your FaceBook pages! This is like having a hit on the radio back in olden times, so after 50 years of dogged slogging I have at last become an overnight sensation. Thank you – and keep up the good work!

In other news, a recent study found that the average American walks about 900 miles a year, while a different study revealed that Americans drink an average of 22 gallons of alcohol annually. I regret to report that I am below average on both of these indices, but if you do the math you will see that Americans get about 41miles to the gallon. Just an average, mind you, actual results may vary, but I thought you should know.

Off to the Rockies this weekend with a film crew in tow, starting the documentary process. They won’t be shooting the shows themselves but picking up “B-roll” footage – tuning guitars, sound checks, talking to folks at the vending table, trying to wheedle my way out of a speeding ticket, stuff like that. Thursday in Crested Butte, Friday in Denver, Saturday in Colorado Springs. Come on by. If you can’t attend, send a friend.

And stay warm!

All the best,

Tom

Tom Rush

PS. Advance notice: on Wednesday, March 28, I’ll be doing a very special show at Passim in Cambridge, MA, officially kicking off my 50th year by going back to where it all began. (The space that is now Passim was, back then, the Club 47.) Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but mark your calendars. It only seats about 80 people … ‘nuf said.

Quotes of the month:

“Of all vices, drinking is the most incompatible with greatness.” – Walter Scott

“My rule of life, prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite: smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them.” – Winston Churchill

Newsletter – January 25, 2012 – Florida tour, The Remember Song, and 50 Years!

Newsletter – January 25, 2012 – Florida tour, The Remember Song, and 50 Years!

January 25, 2012

The Fish Story Song and Other Stories

Gang,

Our landlady recently told me that the bed in our guestroom is the same bed used by Queen Elizabeth and Mick Jagger! Well – I can tell you I was stunned, and more than a bit thrilled to think that I’d been occasionally napping on hallowed, if somewhat sullied, grounds.

I inspected the bed and it seems to have sustained minimal damage. One of the slats is cracked and the bolts need tightening, but other than that it looks like it made it through the ordeal in good shape. I’ve been keeping the place picked up for a while now in case they might return for another go, but so far … nothing. I suspect she might have had enough and frankly I can’t say I blame her. If she’s come to her senses God may have in this instance, in fact, saved the Queen.

What Liz and Mick (I feel so close to them now) were doing at our house – other than the obvious – remains a mystery. Still, I’m thinking of putting a velvet rope across the door and charging $5 for the public to come have a gawk. “Pandering” is such an ugly word – but a fellow’s got to make a living.

Speaking of which, I’m off to Florida in a couple of days to play some shows. Orlando on Thursday,Clearwater on Friday, if it’s Saturday it must be Ft. Lauderdale, and then Sunday in Stuart. If you know anybody in any of those neighborhoods give them a heads-up. Come by yourself, of course, if you’re around.

In other news:

  • The Remember Song clip on YouTube has roared back to life and sailed past the 5 million mark last night. (It had been lumbering along for quite a while at a mere 500-or-so views per day, now it’s doing about 30,000. I have no idea why.)
  • The documentary project has also come back to the front burner, now with one Tod Kwait as the Head Chef. (He was also the force behind the Fish Story Song kids’ video.) We will be hitting you all up for memorabilia in the near future – posters, video clips, clandestine recordings, stuff like that. I already have all the albums, most of the 8-track tapes.
  • This is the kick-off for my 50th year of actually getting paid for making music (something that still astounds me), and I want to thank all of you for making this possible. I started writing a song for the fans once, but never got past “You’re heaven sent / You pay my rent.” Anyway, thank you very, very much, and here’s to the next 50!

Sincerely,

Tom

Tom Rush

Newsletter – November 10, 2011 – Halloween Stress

Newsletter – November 10, 2011 – Halloween Stress

November 10, 2011

Halloween is a very stressful holiday, or whatever it is, for me. With the kids it’s a quasi-religious occasion, and, not wanting to dampen their enthusiasm, I go along with it all, carving pumpkins and baking those nasty little orange cupcakes, pasting on my best smile and enthusing, “Ohhh, this is YUMMY!”

11-11-devil.jpgThis year my daughter-dictated costume was in the theme of a “Devil Butler.” Black, slicked-back hair, red horns, red moustache, nose ring and tuxedo – nothing that would attract attention.

All the Trick-of-Treating here is done in the center of town – the rest of the hamlet is just too spread out. While waiting for the Kid and her hench-persons to pillage the village I, in all my costumed glory, stopped into the pub to console myself with a quick pint. Before I’d had a chance to consider how to get the foam past my dyed-and-spiked moustache, this woman I’d never seen before in my life comes running up to me and gushes, “Aren’t you Tom Rush?” Lord! What does a guy have to do to blend in?

But all that’s minor stuff in the greater scheme of things. The real trouble is candy. The aftermath.

We live at end of the road, at the top of the hill – no kid would dare come here. But nonetheless we get some candy every year, just in case some poor tyke screws up the courage to confront the great unknown. Of course they never do, and we have a pile of leftover Mars Bars, Skittles, Hershey’s Kisses, on and on. So what is to become of this stuff? I don’t want my family risking their dental health, laying on needless pounds … and think of the triglycerides! On the other hand, I’m from New England and throwing it away is not an option. It’s a real dilemma!

The answer, as in so many things, is, of course, self-sacrifice. I thoughtfully hide it away in various secure locations, and then over time – say, a day or so – when no one is looking, I consume it. I do this only to keep my loved ones from succumbing to temptation, gorging themselves on those vile empty calories, exposing themselves to the above-mentioned health hazards.

But am I appreciated for this selfless act of sacrifice and devotion? No! Words like “Pig!” and “Glutton!” are bandied about, along with dire premonitions about diabetes and heart attacks. But that is precisely the point, you see. I take the bullet for them! I throw myself in front of the onrushing train, pushing them to safety at the last possible second! Someday they will understand. Perhaps next Halloween.

I feel better, having gotten that off my chest. Now down to business. Or play – for me they’re pretty much the same thing. I’m doing a New York tour this weekend: Friday the 11th in Syracuse, Saturday the 12th in Mamaroneck, Sunday the 13th out on the Island at Bayshore.

The following weekend there are just two shows: Saturday the 19th in Chatham, NJ, at the Sanctuary, and Sunday the 20th in Philly at the World Café Live. Come on by or send a friend.

Oh! And the Fish Story Song Video should be available just in time for the holidays – it’s looking great! Little kids and grownups are loving it – it’s too “childish,” or so I’m told, for 12 year-olds.

All the best,

Tom

Tom Rush

Quote of the month: “This Halloween, the most popular mask is the Arnold Schwarzenegger mask. And the best part? With a mouth full of candy you will sound just like him.” Conan O’Brien

Newsletter – October 14, 2011

Newsletter – October 14, 2011

October 14, 2011

Gang,

I’m just finishing up a whole month at home, which hardly ever happens, and it’s been delightful. We were out picking apples the other day, and seeing some windfalls on the ground took me back to a childhood scene, just about this time of year.

We spent our summers in Connecticut and had a couple of pastures on the property. To keep them from growing up with bushes and weeds my parents rented them out to a farmer, who fenced them in an filled them up with Holsteins – huge, amiable beasts of impeccable character, but not towering intellects. In looking for a quiet spot to practice the guitar one day, I discovered they were also curious. As I sat at the edge of their domain working on the old C-G-F rotation I looked up to discover that all thirty of them, more or less, had gathered around and were standing there staring at me in calm bewilderment, placidly chewing their cuds.

It was my first audience ever, and I was exhilarated, of course, at the notion that, even at this early age, I could draw a crowd. Cows, mind you, and perhaps “herd” would be the better word, but still … it was a thrill. As soon as I stopped playing, though, and made eye contact they became uneasy and started to edge away. I started playing again and they came closer. I waved the guitar and sang loudly, “When John HENRY was a little BABY,” and they stampeded, and I had to start the courtship all over again.

It was a game we played often that summer, and it taught me the basics of relating to a college audience. There was a time, in fact, in the early fall when the girls got into some windfall apples that had fermented on the ground – the bovine equivalent of Boone’s Farm – and I got my first taste of playing for a bunch of drunks. I’m here to tell you that a herd of Holstein hecklers is about as tough a crowd as you’re going to find.

On another note, as it were, the Fish Story Song Video is coming along very nicely (with an animated fish, no less). I’m very happy with it and hope to have something to show you in about a month’s time.

And I’m headed out for some shows starting next weekend, perhaps to a theater near you. Check the listings below and come by if you can, or send this on to Uncle Bill if something happens to be in his neighborhood. Five of the first six on the list are at venues I’ve never visited before, so I may be getting to meet some of you for the first time.

Stay warm and dry, listen to good music!

All the best,

Tom

Tom Rush

Quotes of the month: “There’s nothing like sitting back and talking to your cows.” – Russell Crowe. “Studying cows, pigs and chickens can help an actor develop his character. There are a lot of things I learned from animals. One was that they couldn’t hiss or boo me.” James Dean
So I’m in good company!

Newsletter –June 5, 2011 – Black Fly Season

Newsletter –June 5, 2011 – Black Fly Season

June 5, 2011

Gang,

One of the grand things about living in New England is that there’s never a dearth of things to complain about. We go seamlessly from moaning about the cold in the Winter to bitching about the heat in the Summer, pausing only briefly to take note of the rain and black flies in the Spring and how the garden’s failing in the Fall. On those rare perfect days – 68 degrees, not a cloud, light breeze from the south – you can hear people observing, with a touch of petulance, that they “can’t complain.”

We are currently in the midst of our annual Take A Black Fly to Lunch festival. About this time last year I heard a fellow on New Hampshire public radio talking about the little darlings. It turns out that, while mosquitoes need stagnant water to breed, the black fly requires a pure running stream. No pollution tolerated – they have higher standards than most bugs. You could tell by his doting tone that the chap found this to be an endearing quality. He also fondly pointed out that when the female bites you she is not merely sucking blood, as an ordinary insect might. Rather, she is taking a tiny chunk of your flesh back home to feed her brood. I actually thought this guy was expecting an “Aww, isn’t that sweet!” kind of reaction. I’m sorry if I disappointed him.

single_fish_story.jpgSpeaking of non-sequiturs, the Fish Story Song (now available for download at the web store!) seems to be taking on a life of its own. One Todd Kwait wants to make a video of it and will be coming later this week to do a shoot of me singing the song for some kids. I’m sure this will involve some rollicking and frolicking, perhaps even romping. I’m frankly not as good at that sort of thing as I used to be, and hope that I will be allowed to simply look on while smiling benevolently and nodding sagely. (I’ve gotten rather good at nodding, if I do say so – practice makes perfect, they say!) We’ll see what the end result will be, but I hope to be able to share it with you before the year is out.

Some shows coming up:
With Jonathan Edwards! The Colonial Theater in Bethlehem, NH this Thursday;
Two nights in Natick, MA at the Center for the Arts (TCAN), Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18th;
A reunion with Buskin & Batteau at the City Winery in NYC, Sunday, June 19th;
Prescott Park in Portsmouth, NH will be a FREE (!!) outdoors show (unless you want to make a donation) (though it’s my birthplace – they STILL haven’t put up the statue) on Thursday the 23rd;
and Saturday the 25th will be the Nashua Folk Festival at Holman Stadium in Nashua, NH (with, as of this writing, James Montgomery and Bruce Marshall, Kate Taylor, the Jon Pousette-Dart Band, and Jonathan Edwards).
And to close out the month, an outdoor show at Codman Farm in Lincoln, MA.

Come on by, say hi!

All the best,

Tom

Tom Rush

Quote of the Month: “Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Newsletter – May 6, 2011

Newsletter – May 6, 2011

May 6, 2011

Gang,

It’s been a crazy few weeks. It was great to again be a part of the Prairie Home Companion show a couple of weeks ago. It was The Kid’s spring break, so we all went down to NYC for the week. They put us up on the 45th floor of a hotel right on Times Square, a corner room with windows looking down on the seething hordes. Quite a contrast to rural Vermont.

They have these gigantic electronic billboards showing young women writhing about in their underwear, which Renee and I found very disturbing. I actually think I was more disturbed than she was – couldn’t believe my eyes, really. I had to keep going to the window to confirm that I’d actually seen these upsetting images, sometimes getting up in the middle of the night just to check if they were still there. Shocking!

This is a very last-minute heads-up that I’ve got three Midwest shows in a row starting tonight: The Thrasher in Green Lake, WI; Saturday at the Cedar Center in Minneapolis; and Sunday night at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. Come by and see me if you can.

Happy Spring!

All the best,

Tom

Tom Rush

Newsletter – March 17, 2011 – A new song for St. Paddy’s Day

Newsletter – March 17, 2011 – A new song for St. Paddy’s Day

March 17, 2011

Gang,

I’m not sure if the Muse is having a laugh at my expense, but another silly song seems to have slipped out – this just in time for St. Paddy’s Day. (This may have been occasioned by my recent discovery that I have a bit of Irish in my genome.) I don’t have music for it yet, but thought you might enjoy the lyrics. They should be recited in your best approximation of a brogue, with a bouncy rhythm, whilst waving around a pint of stout.

Come see me if you can at one of the shows coming up – Thursday 3/24 Roanoke, VA (Sanctuary); Friday, 3/25 Annapolis, MD (Ram’s Head); Saturday 3/26 Alexandria, VA (Birchmere); Sunday 3/27 Wilmington, DE (the Grand) – links to the venues are below.

THE IRISH PIG
©2010 Tom Rush

Hey, the pig got into the garden–o
He’s eatin’ up all the potatoes.
Grab a shovel and grab a hoe,
Grab your partner and off we go!

Well, it’s ‘cross the garden and up the row,
And out the gate and down the road,
Keep on me lads, don’t give him slack,
Gents step forward, the ladies fall back.

Around the town it’s a merry chase,
Down to the Square, all over the place,
He ran into the pub, the Thistle and Top,
Up to the bar and there he stopped.

He ordered a pint and stood us a round,
And that is when the chase wound down.
So bow to your partner and straighten your wig,
And raise your glass and toast the pig.

And I’ll tell you what, this pig is smart,
He beat us all at a game of darts.
He can play the whistle and dance a jig,
‘cause, don’t you know, he’s an Irish pig!

Now it’s closing time and it’s time to pay,
But this little piggie he’s slipped away,
So ‘round and ‘round and ‘round we go,
The pig’s gone back to the garden-o!

And don’t drink too much of that green beer!

All the best,

Tom

Tom Rush

Quote of the month: “We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.”
Winston Churchill

Newsletter – February 11, 2011

Newsletter – February 11, 2011

February 11, 2011

Gang,

Unbeknownst to me, my loving wife conspired with Dan the Web Man to alert you to the fact that I had a birthday with a zero at the end coming up. I want to thank everyone who took the time to send me notes on FaceBook, on the Comments section of the website or via email. The sheer volume of this outpouring was startling, and I’m afraid I just can’t reply to everyone individually, but please know that you were each noted and appreciated! It was so nice, in fact, that I think I might do it again next month.

My Birthday Resolution is to spend more regular time on the creative process – both on music and on some of the other notions that have been rattling around in my head for years. I intend to go where the muse takes me rather than allot so many minutes for this, so many for that. This can be a somewhat risky proposition in that my particular muse seems to have a rather tenuous grasp on anything that we normal people might consider reality.

The Muse, is, of course, a very useful construct. We’ve all heard countless artists say that they were merely the channel for their work, which flowed from some Greater Source. I endorse this line of thinking because, on the one hand, it seems true, and, on the other, it gives one plausible deniability if it turns out that the work really, really sucks. “It’s not MY fault – the Greater Source did it.”

For example, I recently found a bird lying under the feeder by the kitchen window and brought him in to show Renee. (She is, among other things, a wildlife biologist, and I thought she’d be fascinated.) (And, yes, we have the little hawk-outline decals in the windows and all that good stuff.) She suggested that I write a song celebrating the bird’s time here, touching on the transitory nature of life and the ephemeral quality that lies at the heart of beauty. When I sat down, this is what Greater Source served up:

Oh, the bird is dead, ‘cause he bashed his head,
On the window by the kitchen.
Now he ain’t flappin’, he ain’t flyin’,
He ain’t even twitchin’.

And it went downhill from there. It’s NOT MY FAULT, you see. I am totally innocent. (I think, though, that I will NOT make a coloring book out of this one. Renee agrees.)

I’m headed out West later this month – check out the schedule below and come see me if you can. Stay warm!

All the best,

Tom

Tom Rush

Quote of the month: How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? – Satchel Paige

Newsletter – November 30, 2010

Newsletter – November 30, 2010

November 30, 2010

Gang,

I hope your Thanksgivings were all marvelous and that the relatives and in-laws behaved themselves as well as could be expected. It was a quiet weekend here, which was just lovely and bucolic. A flock of wild turkeys has started hanging out just outside the kitchen window. Of course they had the good sense not to show up until the day AFTER Thanksgiving.

book_fish_240.jpgI’m headed out for the last weekend of shows for the year, and will be trying out two (!!TWO!!) new songs. One is the kids’ song I talked about in my last missive (“The Fish Story Song”). It concerns a talking fish, and I’ll be bringing along the coloring book-with-CD I mentioned. It got good reviews from the neighborhood tykes and is now all dressed up with a cover picture by one David Jorgenson (who illustrated the Velveteen Rabbit, and many others, and happens to be a neighbor). If you’d like a sneak peek-and-listen go to our secret web page at TomRush.com/TheGreenRoom.html, which is just for folks on this mailing list. (The book is not yet available at the store at TomRush.com, but will be soon – and there’s all kinds of other good goodies there right now.)

The other song I’ll be trying out is a bit of social commentary written by my friend Josh Brackett, which addresses what I feel is an urgent issue confronting this great land of ours. I don’t want to give away too much, but the chorus goes

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with America,
I’ll tell you why times are so tough,
The poor have too much money,
And the rich don’t have enough!

It’s a rouser, and I expect the audiences will take a break from toasting each other with the Krug and Cristal and lighting their cigars with $1000 bills to join in and sing along. Come on by and lend your voice!

Thursday Dec. 2 (I don’t like to give you too much advance notice) is the Landing at Pine Point, Scarborough, ME; Friday will be Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry NH; Saturday will be the Bull Run in Shirley, MA with Eric Lilljequist and Dean Adrien joining me for our annual reunion, and; if it’s Sunday it must be the World Café Live in Philadelphia, PA. And then I do have one more show at the new Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction, VT (just a few miles from home) on Friday, December 17, which I’m thinking of as my very own Christmas Party for friends and neighbors – and anyone else who wants to stop in.

Stay warm, let the ones you love know you love them.

All the best,

Tom

Tom Rush

Link of the month: Renée shared this with me – the text very thought-provoking talk by Bill Moyers on the reassignment of wealth in America.

Visit the store at TomRush.com where all kinds of cool things are offered.

Newsletter – October 20, 2010

Newsletter – October 20, 2010

October 20, 2010

Gang,

I’m just coming off of a whopping 5 and a half weeks in a row at home – this hasn’t happened for a LONG time, and it’s been great. Getting to know my family better, catching up on that long to-do list (but not entirely), writing a book. A BOOK?!?! Well, sort of. It’s for kids. (I love Steve Martin’s comment upon having finished his first kids’ book: “I never knew a book could be so short!”)

I sort of accidentally wrote a kids’ song a while ago. Now, I don’t do kids’ shows or kids’ albums, so I was afraid it would die of loneliness. It dawned on me during this recent sabbatical that it could be made into a children’s book/CD combo. Since I have NO skill whatsoever as an illustrator, I thought I’d just put a verse on each page and leave some blank space for the kid to do their own pictures. My thought is to do a small run of home-made copies and give them to any of the K-4 set that we know, see how it goes over. If it’s well received we might “roll it out,” as they say, and do a proper press run. Or not. Still, it’s my first book. I’m an AUTHOR!

A starting revelation was recently served up to me by one Barry Nester. We’d had a short email exchange about Sim Webb, Casey Jones’ fireman who survived the train crash that made the engineer famous in song. Then Barry sent me a link to an article showing that Casey was, in fact, not driving his own train, the Cannonball Express, when he died. He’d brought the Cannonball into Memphis from Canton, and then agreed to take another engineer’s train, Train #1, back south since that guy had called in sick (or whatever they did before telephones). Here’s the sentence that blew my mind: “Train No.1 was known as ‘The Chicago & New Orleans Limited,’ later to become the famous “Panama Limited”.” CASEY JONES WAS DRIVING THE PANAMA LIMITED WHEN HE DIED!

There may be those among you who can receive this information with a degree of calm, but for me this unexpected confluence of my two favorite train songs is earthshaking. Thank you Barry!

I’m heading out this weekend to see if I still remember how to sing and play and all that other stuff. Friday’s Jim Thorpe, PA, which is in the throes of the annual Foliage Festival – I expect scenic grandeur and lots of it. Saturday is the Carnegie Lecture Hall in Pittsburgh, with the show being organized by the Calliope Folk Music Society. Great hall, great folks! Then off to Toronto for Sunday and Monday at Hugh’s Room, a very cool club where I get to catch up with my Canadian buddies.

Come on by or send a friend! And get that cordwood in.

All the best,

Tom

Tom Rush

Link of the Month: Here’s the Casey Jones link. Note that at the top of the piece they say he was driving the Cannonball Express in the crash, but go down to the section headed, ominously, DEATH to get the real skinny: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casey_Jones

Visit the store at TomRush.com where all kinds of cool things are offered.