Tom Rush in session with Matt Nakoa

How I met Matt

In the late Fall of 2014, I had invited a bunch of guest artists to my upcoming holiday show at Boston’s Symphony Hall, and I had a bunch of new songs I wanted them to get to know in case any of them felt like playing or singing along.

So I went over to Fox Run Studios in Sudbury MA, in the basement of my friend Neale Eckstein’s house, to cut some demos.

We set up the mics and got comfortable. Neale said, “I’ve got this keyboard player staying with me, in case you’d like to add some keyboards.” I said, “Nah.” “He’s really good,” said Neale. “No, thank you, I don’t think so,” said I. Neale stood over my chair, hands on hips (I may be mis-remembering this, but this is what it felt like), and intoned, “He’s really, really good.” Intuitive fellow that I am, I sensed that Neale, who was doing me a favor by letting me use his studio, wanted me to hear this guy. “Ah, OK,” I replied hesitantly, “maybe just one song.”

He then went and woke up Matt Nakoa and dragged him to the basement. He looked to be a very sleepy teenager (he’s actually 30 but you’d never know it), and clearly was unclear as to who this Tom Rush guy was supposed to be. So Neale sat him down and he added a piano track to a song I’d just cut. Damn! Sounded awfully good! We added keyboards to a couple of more tracks and then ended up re-recording the lot of them so Matt could play live with me.

At the end of the session I invited Matt to come to Symphony Hall and be part of the band. He distinguished himself there, and a few months later I asked him if he’d like to join me for a couple of gigs. The upshot is that young Matt has been on board with me for most of my shows over the past year. (He has his own schedule of concerts, and sometimes there’s a conflict.) He backs me up, makes me sound much better than I really am, and does a couple of songs on his own during the evening. The crowd loves him (especially the ladies, because he’s so cute!).

Matt’s on his way to bigger and better things, but I’m sure enjoying working with him while I can. Thank you Neale!

All the best,


Fox Run Studio:

Matt Nakoa:


Here’s a taste of what you can expect from Matt:

Tom and Matt performed live at The Center for the Arts in Natick (TCAN), Natick MA on June 20th, 2015. Here Matt performs his song “Stormchaser”.

Scattered Thoughts – November 3, 2015

Scattered Thoughts – November 3, 2015


  • Scattered thoughts seem to be the norm for me these days. A random sampling:
  • If I’d been commissioner of the NFL, I’d have sentenced Tom Brady & Co. to play one game with a fully deflated, one might say flaccid, football.
  • I have it on good authority that both Canada and Mexico are working up plans to build border fences to keep out fleeing American liberals in case Trump wins the presidency.
  • I don’t want to sound anti-immigration or anything, and I don’t even know where Kardashia is, but I wish they’d go back where they came from.
  • Scientists say that the behavior of subatomic particles changes if you even think about them, causing them to flit in and out of existence. So, what if somebody thought about all of them at once? Wait! Don’t do it! Damn, that was close.
  • The most fun thing for a puppy is an old guy trying to put on his socks.
“No Tears Goodbye” Available in the online store


In an odd development, I’m selling my own bootleg. Actually, no, this is from the UK and is legal since anything on the radio in the ’70s or ’80s is now in the Public Domain there. This is a show I did at the Wollman Rink in Central Park on August 12, 1972, as part of the Schaefer Music Festival. I’m fronting a kickass band featuring Trevor Veitch, banners snapping in the wind, on lead electric guitar. WARNING: the audio here is pretty rough. Feedback, occasional random bits of conversation from stage-side, a somewhat chaotic mix—this will not be up for any engineering awards. But it has a compelling energy and takes me back to the moment, and to the era. (This is one of the things music does so well.) I scored a few copies, but there’s no way of knowing how long this is going to be in print. If you’re interested, don’t dawdle! Available only in our online store.

Two notes about upcoming shows: I won’t be doing a Symphony Hall show between Christmas and New Year’s this winter–we couldn’t get a date that worked–so these shows listed below are the only area appearances I’ll be doing.

And, to make these shows even more special, I’ll have a young whippersnapper named Matt Nakoa accompanying me on keyboards and harmonies. He’s a monster (and I mean that in the nicest way), an artist on his way up; I’ll likely ask him to do a song or two on his own during the course of the concerts. You will love him, guaranteed.

This weekend:

  • Friday, 11/6, the Cabot Performing Arts Center in Beverly, MA. The Cabot has just invested a bajillion dollars on a magnificent makeover and is truly, I’m told, a wonder to behold. I can’t wait to behold it!
  • Saturday, 11/7, the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, MA, a hallowed old industrial space that I’ve come to love. (I always open the show there with “It’s Going To Get Hot Tonight” so I can include the line, “I left my liver in old Fall River.”
  • Sunday, 11/8, the River Club Music Hall in Scituate, MA, one of my favorite South Shore stops. This and the Narrows tend to sell out, so, again, don’t dawdle!

If you can’t attend, send a friend.

Enjoy what’s left of the Fall—some nice warm weather coming up in New England and the foliage is still glorious!

All the best,


Quote of the month:

“I am really cautious about what I say and do.” “I always put clothes and family photos under the mattress, in case the house burns down.” “I hate to talk about myself.”

–– Kim Kardashian

The return of the Naked Lady

The return of the Naked Lady

Tom has partnered with Canadian guitar makers MacKenzie & Marr to produce a limited edition recreation of Tom’s classic “Naked Lady” guitar, the original being destroyed in a house fire some 20 years ago.  Since then Tom has been looking the right partners to recreate this iconic instrument.

Read the full story . . .

Tom Rush No Regrets Misic Video Still

“No Regrets” 1968 Music Video

Allegedly this is one of the first music videos ever produced. It was shot on the outskirts of London, where Tom was touring in 1968. It was produced by Arthur Gorson for Elektra Records as a promo for the album The Circle Game. It has been put online by the filmmaker Jonathan Moser.

Gene Shay WXPN Folk Show features archival Tom Rush interviews

Gene Shay WXPN Folk Show features archival Tom Rush interviews

The magical Gene Shay of 88.5 WXPN Philadelphia has been a friend and supporter of Tom since his earliest days. This show starts with Gene talking about Tom version of “Mole’s Moan” and how it became the staple intro to the show for many decades. Having produced a weekly folk radio show since 1962, this show is part of the buildup toward Gene’s retirement. This program features archival interviews with Tom (at the 37min mark), as well as an 1967 interview with Joni Mitchell and others.

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.

Medical Breakthrough! – February 20, 2015

Medical Breakthrough! – February 20, 2015

February 20, 2015


Stunning news: Google has gone into the doctor business! They’ve put up this very folksy page where a woman who works at Google explains that when her son fell off the bed in — wouldn’t you know it — Vermont, she had trouble finding information on line that would tell her whether or not he had a concussion. (“… and I work at Google!” she sputters.) Just as an aside, beds are a fairly new thing in Vermont, just beginning to catch on, and it may have been a matter of faulty design. If he’d just slept on the floor like normal people … but that’s neither here nor there.

The point is that very soon whenever you look up whatever ails you – aching hair, perhaps, or, in the case of some of my contemporaries, phantom hair pain – you will be presented with the Knowledge Graph, an instant compendium of knowledge about your condition that will allow you to quickly misdiagnose yourself without the bother of plowing through all those confusing, unreliable websites from fly-by-night outfits like Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic, and will certainly save you the time, expense and embarrassment of going to an actual doctor, if you could even get in to see one of them these days.

I’m going to contact them and see if, for a fee of course, they could see their way to recommending Tom Rush CDs and DVDs as a remedy for pretty much anything. I’m told, for instance, that the new video documentary ‘Tom Rush – No Regrets’ can make just about anybody feel good. And then there are all those gluten-free, high-fiber heart-healthy CDs to keep you in shape, in our store.

I know full well, meanwhile, what ails me: aching muscles induced by shoveling all the snow that’s been arriving every weekend like clockwork. And I already know the remedy: I’m heading south!

Saturday, February 21st, Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, GA.

Sunday, February 22nd, Clearwater, FL, the Capitol Theater.

Tuesday, February 24th, West Palm Beach, FL, the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse.

And then back to the frozen north!

Friday, February 27th, Salisbury, MA, the Blue Ocean.

Stay warm, stay healthy!

All the best,


Tom Rush

New Song: “Life is Fine”

New Song: “Life is Fine”

So Tom let this little diddy leak out via the newsletter shortly before the 2014 Christmas Symphony Hall show. Matt Nakoa, who just happen to be near the studio was invited in to play on this track. Matt is a 2014 Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Winner, and a multi-talented performer, and has been appearing with Tom on stage off and on ever since.

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Tom plays “Mole’s Moan” for Gene Shay farewell on WXPN

Tom plays “Mole’s Moan” for Gene Shay farewell on WXPN

WXPN’s Gene Shay, the “Dean of Folk DJ’s” retired from the airwaves after a glorious 50+ year career on Sunday, February 1st. As a tribute, Tom Rush plays a version of “Mole’s Moan,” the song Gene used as the theme to his weekly music show.


Shameless plug: Mole’s Moan appears on the album TOM RUSH Blues, Songs & Ballads, available in the online store.