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.

Newsletter – September 9, 2010 – A QUICK HEADS-UP

Newsletter – September 9, 2010 – A QUICK HEADS-UP

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

Newsletter – August 6, 2010

Newsletter – 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,

Tom

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.

Tom plays Mountain Stage

Tom plays Mountain Stage

NPR has posted Tom’s performance of the March 16,2010 performance at Mountain Stage.

A mainstay of the Boston folk movement of the ’60s, Rush is one of the performers for whom the term “singer-songwriter” was originally coined. He performs some of his greatest hits, and a choice cover, live on the program.

Enjoy!

“What I Know” – Folk Album Of The Year

“What I Know” – Folk Album Of The Year

Delivered by Gene Shay for Tom Rush

This is the text of the acceptance speech I asked Gene Shay to deliver for me at the International Folk Alliance conference in Memphis in Mid February, 2010. They gave me the Folk Album of the Year award, but I couldn’t’ be there because it was my daughter’s Winter Break, and I had promises to keep.

For those of you who don’t know, Gene has been the voice of folk on Philadelphia radio for eons, and is the main reason I have an audience there. He has been a good friend for a long time, and I hope he doesn’t harbor any ill feelings. I wrote the sections in brackets to be delivered as Gene “speaking for himself.”

[I’m accepting this award for Tom, who couldn’t be here because of a prior commitment to his daughter. He told me this is what he would say if he were here, and he asked me not to pre-read this, so forgive me if I stumble.]

As you may know, What I Know is my first new studio album in 35 years. I’ve been asked over and over by the media: “Why the hell did it take you so long?” The subtext being, clearly, “What are you, stupid or something?”

Well, I’ve given a variety of cute, mealy-mouthed excuses and explanations, like a defendant trying to charm the jury, and so far I haven’t been indicted. But I feel this is a room full of friends and colleagues, and I think it’s time that truth were told — or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Here goes:

Early in my career my overarching goal was to die a tragic death at an early age, as so many great artists that I admired had done. Frankly, I regarded it as a career move. My thinking was that then, and only then, would I get the recognition —no, adulation — I so richly deserved.

This plan did not work out, though I came close on a couple of occasions. Dozens of occasions, actually, but the point is: Tragic Death at an Early Age (TDEA) isn’t something that just happens – one has to apply oneself and work toward that goal. Although I dabbled in all the things that might have killed me off in my twenties, I lacked focus. I lacked dedication.

I didn’t give up, though. I held on to my dream — into my thirties, forties, fifties. At last, however, in my late sixties I’ve had to come to grips with reality (or a reasonable facsimile thereof): TDEA has evaded me. A Tragic Death at an Early Age is simply not attainable when you’re sixty-eight. A mundane death as an old fart seemed to be my fate.

I was despondent at first, but at last realized that this was not the end. Perhaps this great disappointment could be seen as an opportunity. Perhaps I could actually do something rather than just wait around. Perhaps I could make another album!

And this is when Jim Mussleman called me up and suggested that I make another album. I tried my usually litany of excuses, but he wasn’t having it. He recruited Jim Rooney to produce the project, and Jim, with his band of merry men and women in Nashville made absolute magic with the raw material I lugged in.

I want to thank Jim Mussleman for not taking no for an answer; Jim Rooney for his talent at extracting more from you than you knew you had; all the mystical, magical musicians that contributed their talents, always in perfect service of the songs; David Ferguson for capturing all these wonderful notes and making me sound much better than I deserve to sound.

And, most importantly, all the radio folks who gave airtime to the results. (I find it very gratifying that virtually every cut on the album got a significant amount of play, that there wasn’t one “Hit” — though I’m sure that drove Mussleman crazy.)

Radio, as you all know, is still the very best way to connect the music with the audience, and to keep an art-form alive. It’s the jocks who get our music where it needs to go, who give the audience a place to congregate, who bind the community together. Some of you are close personal friends, some I know through phone chats, some only from listening on the air or on the ‘net. You are heroes, and I thank you!

I especially want to thank Gene Shay, who taught me everything I know, whose towering talent and rugged good looks are an inspiration to me, who is probably the most important person in the history of music. [I’m just reading this.]

Thank you!

Tom Rush