Tom Rush Leaves Fans with “No Regrets”

Tom Rush Leaves Fans with “No Regrets”

(Concert Review – Schenectady, NY – The Eighth Step at Proctors – May 12, 2015)
By Don Wilcoc

Tom Rush calls himself simply “a generalist,” a self-deprecating understatement that proved way insufficient in defining his sumptuous nearly three-hour, two-set concert at the Eighth Step on May 15th. His tour-de-force performance featured his own signature song “No Regrets” from early in his career as Boston’s best voice of the ’60s folk boom and his career defining “The Circle Game” which introduced Joni Mitchell’s songwriting to the World.

Crisscrossing genres, he re-invigorated Dobby Grey’s pop ode to the palliative properties of music on “Drift Away,” and encored with an energetic acoustic version of “You Do You Love” that somehow managed to inject as much potency into that Bo Diddley rockin’ blues classic as Diddley himself did in the ’50s with his plugged-in rectangular guitar. Rush joked about songwriter Lee Clayton telling him he’d written the outlaw country number “Ladies Love Outlaws” especially for Tom and then postulating that Lee probably said the same thing to Waylon Jennings who had a hit with it.

He’s the best friend you haven’t seen or talked to in 40 years. You greet each other and instantly enter the infinity loop for a continuing connection. That’s what folk music does. It brings everyone into a comfy familiarity around simple shared values. Part of the way most folk acts of the ’60s eliminated the distance between performer and fans was a style – or lack of style – that put the performer and the fan on the same level. Pete Seeger was the master of this. He was by no means a polished singer and having the audience sing along became part of the show. That’s what hootenannies were all about. Tom Rush hones that heritage to a point of near ecstacy.

Watching him breathe new life and meaning into old songs that are part of our collective consciousness from a wide variety of genres, we can easily imagine that he’s Mark Twain addressing us from beyond. His creamy baritone and crystal clear enunciation focus a new light on the lyrics of songs whose originals we’ve reduced to mere melodies we can’t get out of our heads. He even looks like Twain with tousled white hair and curling mustache. His understated reflections between numbers never speak to us or at us, but rather draw us into his view of the world like the avuncular uncle who has just returned to our lives after a long absence. His time away disappears in a conversation left dangling from his last visit decades ago.

History and the media’s reduction of that history to bulleted biographies have niched Rush into a folk singing oldies but goodies act who brought Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Jackson Browne to wider acclaim, but his concert proved that such an evaluation diminishes him unfairly. It’s the same as saying Frank Sinatra did all his best stuff fronting jazz bands in the ’40s or that Johnny Cash’s high water mark was “Ring of Fire.”

Rush’s concert featured “Fall into The Night” by Eliza Gilkyson, a very current Americana singer/songwriter. With a wink, he admitted he’s changed some of her words in the end that are more metaphysical because he’s more focused on the lyrics, “So, baby, take your blue jeans off, and lay your body down.” That number is on his most recent album What I Know, his only studio LP of new songs in 30-some years. He did the title song which he says he wrote as a love song for his wife when he was on tour during her birthday and felt an email photo of a box of chocolates just might not cut it. He also did a couple of new songs that have come during a recent unprecedented run of songwriting.

 

Don Wilcock is a freelance writer, Senior Editor of The Audiophile Voice Magazine, and a Contributing Writer for The Saratogian, Troy Record, Nippertown, and The American Blues Scene. He is also a Contributing Editor for Blues Music Magazine (formerly Blues Revue Magazine) and a recipient of the The Blues Foundation’s “Keeping The Blues Alive in Print Journalism” Award. Published with permission of the author.

Press for “What I Know”

Press for “What I Know”

Here’s what people have been saying about
Tom Rush’s new album What I Know:

Press

“If anything, the new album is a reminder of the understated qualities that made him a beloved entertainer four decades ago: his warm, conversational singing style; caviar taste in the songwriters he covers; and nuanced guitar playing that proved so popular, he now sells an instructional video about his technique. . . a classic and honest Rush album worthy of a new era of fans who weren’t even born when he dropped off the commercial radar in the mid-’70s.” – James Reed,THE BOSTON GLOBE

“Rush still has that deep, relaxed voice that gives listeners the impression they’re old friends listening in on a musical conversation.” – Mlke Regenstreif,MONTREAL GAZETTE

“. . . A warm, crisp gem of an album . . . it features harmonies by Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith and Bonnie Bramlett and a band of stellar players such as Fats Kaplin, Robin Batteau and Mike Henderson. . . . Rush has a reputation as a great song-finder. . . . On his new album, Rush includes fine songs by Richard Dean, Steve Bruton, Melanie Dyer and Kim Beard Day among others, but the friskiest and most quietly plaintive songs come from Rush’s own pen.” – Daniel Gewertz, BOSTON HERALD

“On “What I Know,” his voice is still warm, deep and resonant, whether he’s singing the title track tale of enduring love; the saga of a soldier’s reflections (“All a Man Can Do”) or harmonizing with the likes of Emmylou Harris on “Too Many Memories” or Nanci Griffith on the playful “Casey Jones”. . . Great stuff, from the upbeat opener with Bonnie Bramlett, “Hot Tonight,” straight through to the closing cover of the old Dobie Gray hit “Drift Away.”” –SPRINGFIELD (MA) SUNDAY REPUBLICAN

“What I Know is a marvelously relaxed and self-assured return for Rush, a guy who self-admittedly displays neither of those traits when he enters a studio, which is one of the reasons he’s stayed away so long. Here’s hoping he realizes how great this album is and gets back to the studio before 2043.” – Brian Baker,CINCINNATI CITY BEAT

“. . . reaffirms his wit and genial presence in songs that highlight elegant, simple craftsmanship of elegant simplicity.” – HARTFORD COURANT

“. . . you’d never guess that he’d been away so long, from the lithe spirit in his voice on these 15 tracks. The title track, one of five Rush compositions, revisits the idea Sam Cooke outlined in “Wonderful World” with an infectious bounce all its own. Nanci Griffith helps out on his retelling of the folk ballad ” Casey Jones,” Emmylou Harris adds her incomparable harmonizing to Steven Bruton’s sweetly reflective “Too Many Memories” and Bonnie Bramlett lends her soulful voice to Rush’s frisky “Hot Tonight.” His lyrics are comfortably conversational, much like his lived-in tenor, both of which are applied masterfully in his definition of true beauty in “River Song””. . . – LOS ANGELES TIMES

“With his typical low-key approach, Rush has made a wonderful new album, featuring a number of fine new Rush originals, as well as songs penned by the likes of Jack Tempchin, Stephen Bruton, Eliza Gilkyson and Bill Miller. And he caps off the album with a beautiful, understated rendition of the old Dobie Grey hit, ‘Drift Away,’ accompanied only by his acoustic guitar and a cello.” – Greg Haymes, ALBANY TIMES UNION

“What I Know alternates between light, bouncy ditties (Hot Tonight and What I Know), thoughtful examinations (East of Eden, All A Man Can Do, and Too Many . Memories), and the familiar (River Song and a splendid rendering of Drift Away) . . . The results are spectacular.” – Donald Teplyske, RED DEER ADVOCATE (Alberta)

“Legendary at finding just the right songs to capture a time . . . Rush unveils five originals, including the high steppin’ ‘Hot Tonight’ and the sly ‘One Good Man’ and puts them alongside Eliza Gilkyson’s seductive ‘Fall into the Night’ and Steve Bruton’s poignant ‘Too Many Memories,’ which features a duet with Emmylou Harris. Melanie Dyer & Kim Beard Day’s melancholic, yet somewhat humorous ‘What An Old Lover Knows’ just wouldn’t sound the same if sung by anyone else. Rush . . . sticks to the tried and true, to country-folk-singer/songwriter mode, but that’s really not the point. The point is an old friend returns, scarred but not broken, in good humor and grand voice.” – Mike Jurkovich, Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange

“Tom Rush – the man with the golden ear, the comforting voice, the supple guitar and the craftsman’s pen – has given us a gift worth waiting for. – AMAZON.COM REVIEWS

Customers

“Great new album and well worth the wait!”

“. . . sweet, poignant and knee-slapping fun!”

“I received your newest CD yesterday. It was worth waiting for. This CD is the best since “Circle Game.” The arrangements are just wonderful and the song list is number one. All I can say it is “Fantastic”.”

“You guys did a marvelous job, the choice of material, the musicianship, the guests, it all comes together in a very enjoyable listening experience!”

“Great tunes!”

Blogs

and many more ….

Reported Radio Airplay & Response (a sampling)

TOP ARTISTS OF FEBRUARY 2009
Compiled by Richard Gillmann from FOLKDJ-L radio playlists
Based on 12099 airplays from 146 different DJs

1. Tom Rush“What I Know” debuts at #35 on the Americana Radio Chart
and has been added at the following stations:
CJTR – Regina, SK
CKPC-FM – Brantford, ON
CKUT – Montreal, QCKACI – The Dalles, OR
KANU – Lawrence, KS
KAXE – Grand Rapids, MI
KBCS – Bellevue, WA
KBOO – Portland, OR
KCLC – St. Louis, MO
KCSC – Oklahoma City, OK
KCSN – Northridge, CA
KDHX – St. Louis, MO
KDNK – Carbondale, CO
KFOK – Georgetown, CO
KGLP – Gallup, NM
KMFB – Ft. Bragg, CA
KOPN – Columbia, MO
KPFT – Houston, TX
KRCL – Salt Lake Vity, UT
KRCB – Rohnert Park, CA
KRFC – Ft. Collins, CO
KRSH – Santa Rosa, CA
KSUT – Ignacio, CO
KSYM – San Antonio, TX
KTEP – El Paso, TX
KTHX – Reno, NV
KTRU – Houston, TX
KUT – Austin, TX
KVMR – Nevada City, CA
KVNF – Paonia, CO
KWGS – Tulsa, OK
KWMR – Pt. Reyes Stn, CA
KXCI – Tucson, AZ
KYSM – San Antonio, TX
KZSU – Stanford, CAWAER – Syracuse, NY
WAMC – Albany, NY
WAMU – Washington, DC
WBGU – Bowling Green, KY
WCVF – Fredonia, NY
WDCB – Glen Ellyn, IL
WDHA – Cedar Knolls, NJ
WDST – Woodstock, NY
WDVX – Knoxville, TN.
WEFT – Champaign, IL
WERU – Erie, PA
WEVO – Concord, NH
WFDU – Teaneck, NJ
WFHB – Bloomington, IN
WFIT – Melbourne, FL
WFMT – Chicago, IL
WCBE – Columbus, OH
WDVX – Knoxville, TN
WERU – East Orland, ME
WETS – Johnson City, TN
WFDU – Teaneck, NJ
WFHB – Bloomington, IN
WFPK – Louisville, KY
WFUV – Bronx, NY
WGBH – Boston, MA
WGCS – Goshen, IN
WGDR – Marshfield, VT
WGWG – Charlotte, NC
WHDD – Sharon, CT
WHEE – Martinsville, VA
WHUS – Storrs, CT
WIKX – Pt. Charlotte, FL
WIUP – Indiana, PA
WJCU – Sagamore Hills, OH
WJFF – Jeffersonville, NY
WMLB – Atlanta, GA
WMNF – Tampa, FL
WMMT – Whitesburg, KY
WMSR – Auburn, AL
WMUA – Amherst, MA
WNCW – Spindale, NC
WNCS – Montpelior, VT
WNCW – Asheville, NC
WNMC – Traverse City, MI
WNRN – Charlottesville, VA
WNTI – Hackettstown, NJ
WOUB – Athens, OH
WPRB – Princeton, NJ
WRKF – Baton Rouge, LA
WRPI – Troy, NY
WRRW – Virginia Beach, VA
WRUR – Rochester, NY
WRUW – Cleveland,. OH
WSM – Nashville, TN
WSYC – Shippensburg, PA
WTCR – Huntington, WV
WTUL – New Orleans, LA
WUMB – Boston
WUSB – Stony Brook, NY
WVGN – St. Thomas, V.I
WVTF – Roanoke, VA
WWUH – W. Hartford, CT
WXLV – Schenksville, PA
WXOU – Auburn Hills, MI
WYCE – Grand Rapids, MI

Tom Rush Rules Tupelo

Tom Rush Rules Tupelo

Review: Manchester (NH) HIPPOPRESS
by Bruce Bressack
First published Thursday, May 26, 2005
Used with permission.

Do you know where your parents were last Saturday night?

Did you wait up for them and think, “It’s past 9 p.m. — how come they’re not home downing their Metamucil and watching Trading Spaces on the 60-inch plasma TV?”

Well, the Hippo found them at the Tupelo Music Hall, eyes glued to the stage, watching folk legend Tom Rush weaving his musical tapestry song by legendary song, story by hilarious story.

For the uninitiated, Rush helped shape the folk revival of the 1960s and its renaissance in the ’80s and ’90s. His early recordings introduced the world to the work of Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and James Taylor.

According to Rolling Stone, Rush’s album The Circle Game, released in 1968, ushered in the singer/songwriter era.

The first time I saw Rush perform was 15 years ago at an outdoor concert in Conway, NH. It did not compare to seeing Rush perform in the intimate, listening-room environment of the Tupelo.

His soft-spoken introductions to the songs were easily heard in the hall, and his humorous anecdotes led to bursts of laughter, wild applause and healthy hoots and hollers. (If you think your parents don’t know how to party, I can send you the photographic evidence.)

Rush ruled the stage, masterfully performing everything from “The Panama Limited” by Mississippi blues man Bukka White, to Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game,” to Murray McLaughlin’s “A Child’s Song,” to his original and classic songs “No Regrets” and “Rockport Sunday.”

As the audience filed out, Rush stood patiently near the exit signing CDs and old album covers that fans had brought to the show. He chatted with folks like they were old and close friends, and he graciously posed for photo after photo.

If you were at the Tupelo that evening, you witnessed greatness (and humbleness) first-hand. Rush sold out the show and he gave the audience a truly generous performance. And, along the way, he reminded all of us why music was so important in the ’60s — it was real, it was powerful, and it was an “agent of change.”


Bruce Bressack is a singer-songwriter, producer and freelance writer currently living in New Hampshire. He’s a 53 year old baby-boomer, ex-Yuppie, ex-New Yorker, guitar-slingin’, piano-slappin’, finally ‘retired’, television tube lover…

Master of folk music gives a stunning performance

Master of folk music gives a stunning performance

Review: Albany Times-Union
by MICHAEL RIVEST, Special to the Times Union
First published Monday, February 21, 2005

ALBANY — A folk legend came to town Saturday night, and he wore that label as comfortably as he did his own skin under his untucked purple Hawaiian shirt. Tom Rush is the master of his genre. The capacity crowd of loyal fans knew this going in, of course, so Rush had nothing to prove. But he sure didn’t disappoint, either.

The intimate WAMC auditorium was the perfect venue for Rush. He didn’t invent the “coffeehouse raconteur” thing, but many would say he perfected it, getting his start in smoky 1960s Cambridge folk joints, like the Unicorn and Club 47. An aging guitar player in the audience remembered seeing Rush at Club 47 in 1968. OK, it was me. But I’ll bet a dozen or so other graying guitar players in the audience had a similar memory. When it comes to Rush and us, the roots go deep.

He opened with the standard, “It’s Gonna Get Cold Tonight,” relying on an Epiphone Texan in D-tuning, one of the two guitars he used. The other was an old Martin in standard tuning.

Rush next played a pensive “What an Old Lover Knows,” a new song by a writer he discovered — Melanie Dyer. Now I make this point because when Rush alerts us to a new songwriter, we’d be well advised to pay attention. He proved this as early as 1968, when his “Circle Game” album introduced a few other songwriters who wound up doing rather well — Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and James Taylor.

In true coffeehouse tradition, Rush was deft between songs with sidesplitting stories about moving from New Hampshire to Wyoming in 1991. “I didn’t know what to do with bison on my lawn.” He noted that, in Wyoming, “a driver can’t have a drink in his hand if stopped by the police; the passenger, however, can have two.”

When it came to the music, Rush was deadly serious, thundering through Sleepy John Estes’ “Drop Down Mama,” his own “Merrimack County,” and old Mississippi blues man Bukka White’s “Panama Limited,” a train song every guitar player in the 1960s swore he could play, praying he’d never have to prove it.

There was plenty of time for softer moments, too, when Rush’s velvet baritone wrapped around Mitchell’s “Circle Game,” and embraced his own “No Regrets,” a song he followed with his familiar, stunning instrumental composition, “Rockport Sunday.”

Rush’s emotional encore was Murray McLaughlin’s “A Child’s Song,” a plaintive tale of having to grow up and leave Mom and Dad behind. It still goes straight to the heart, but now time has turned the tables. When he first recorded this song in 1970, we were the departees; now it’s our kids. I don’t know if the irony was intentional, but the tissues were out.



Michael Rivest is a freelance writer and an occasional contributor to the Times Union.

TOM RUSH
Where: WAMC’s Linda Norris Auditorium, Albany, NY
Highlights: The driving “Panama Limited” and a haunting, killer rendition of a “Child’s Song”
The crowd: SRO of 200 mostly aging folkies, along with a few young ones there to hear what we’ve been talking about all these years.