Windfalls – October 14, 2011

Windfalls – 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,

ryan schmidt

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!

Black Fly Season – June 5, 2011

Black Fly Season – June 5, 2011

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,

ryan schmidt

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,

ryan schmidt

Tom Rush

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

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

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,

ryan schmidt

Tom Rush

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

Birthday Resolution – February 11, 2011

Birthday Resolution – 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,

ryan schmidt

Tom Rush

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

Trying out new songs – November 30, 2010

Trying out new songs – 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,

ryan schmidt

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.

Writing a book?!? – October 20, 2010

Writing a book?!? – 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,

ryan schmidt

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.

A QUICK HEADS-UP, September 9, 2010

A QUICK HEADS-UP, September 9, 2010

September 9, 2010

Gang,

Having got the summer wound down from vacation and the kid wound up for school I’m just all wound around. I find that “doing nothing” is far more strenuous than working, especially when it involves doing nothing with a bunch of other people who are similarly exhausted. The only thing to do is go back to work and recharge!

Tomorrow night, Friday the 10th, is Norfolk, CT, at Infinity, a simply marvelous room that I played for the first time last year. I’ve been eagerly looking forward to a return engagement ever since. An old vaudeville hall (Sam Clemens once performed there – hallowed ground indeed) that’s been lovingly restored, complete with a ghost named Vivian. I didn’t get to meet her, but dedicated a song to her just to be on the safe side. If you’re anywhere within striking distance and can mobilize I’d urge you to get there. And if you can’t get there tomorrow, get there to see SOMEBODY soon – it’s really a treat! [b/t/w, we’ll be video taping again for the documentary, so don’t come with somebody else’s spouse this time.]

Saturday I’ll be in Franklin, MA at the Circle of Friends, for the first time in a LONG time – 1998 was my last visit there. I suspect that I misbehaved badly but they’ve finally forgotten about it. I don’t remember doing anything bad, but sometimes that’s a strong indication that it actually happened. In any case it will be fun to see my South Shore and 495 buddies again!

And if it’s Sunday it must be Ogunquit, ME, Jonathan’s to be exact, another of my favorite places. Great food in a great room in a great town – what’s not to love? Come on up, or over, or down east. I’ve never not had a great time at Jonathans!

The very best to you all!

Tom Rush

Quote of the Month: The best way to behave is to misbehave. Mae West

Karmic Journey – August 6, 2010

Karmic Journey – August 6, 2010

August 6, 2010

Gang,

I’m sad to report that Roo, one of the little dogs celebrated in the Trolling for Owls story and CD jacket, has moved along in her karmic journey. She was the family comedian, never missing a chance to settle down for a nap in a hamper of warm laundry, ever incredulous that anyone would NOT want to have her in their lap. She is very much missed.

One of the notes of consolation we’ve gotten evoked the image of her chasing rabbits in doggie heaven, which got me wondering if doggie heaven might be the same place as bunny hell. And what a bunny would have to do to be sent there. Too much for my little brain. Religious wars have been started over lesser questions and so, since the world is discordant enough already, I’ll move on. (I’d hate it if historians were to note that “The BunnyHell Conflict of 2010, marking the end of the Old Civilization, was actually sparked by a casual email from an obscure folksinger.”)

For whatever reason this seems to be the Year of the Private Event. I’ve done birthdays, anniversaries, reunions, and fundraisers and there’s a wedding coming up. This is all delightful for me, but since I’m drawing the line at 50 shows a year these days (my bride rolls her eyes – “ONLY 50!”) it leaves less public dates to share with y’all. The upside it that it gives me the luxury of picking only the most extra special situations – ones I think you’d really enjoy. For instance:

!!FREE!! This Saturday, the 7th, afternoon, outdoors by the sea at the Scituate Harbor Heritage Festival, 2:30 PM in Scituate, MA, (following two acts called “Girls, Guns and Glory” and “The Fools” – can’t wait!)

Wednesday the 11th, a fundraising event for Boston’s WUMB, with Kenny White and Judy Collins. I believe this is only for sale at the station’s website. Buskin & Batteau will be joining me for this one, just like in the old days. I haven’t worked with these guys for quite a while, and it’s a treat to which I’m very much looking forward.

Thursday the 12th, an outdoor show for 802-649-1143innkeeper (yes, the phone number is part of the email address) or call 802-649-1143 and ask about the “Tom Rush Special”.

Later in the month, on Saturday the 28th, I’ll be returning to Cheney Hall (no relation) in Manchester, CT, a wonderful venue for folks in the greater Hartford area.

And last for the month, but far from least, ROCKPORT, MA ON SUNDAY! the 29th. Do you think I should perhaps put “Rockport Sunday” on the set list? The Shalin Liu Performance Center is a new venue there that I’m told is marvelous. Buy Tickets.

Hope to see you at one of these, or more!

All the best,

ryan schmidt

Tom Rush

Link of the month: this is just amazing, and makes you appreciate what a grand land we live in. It’s a bit long, but hang in for the part where he says, “I try not to smile ‘cause I got my teeth knocked out by a chainsaw.”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gn8EQ0azXpQ

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