“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

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