March 25: Tom Rush is ready to play up a storm at the Rex

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!

NEC LOGO GSMGrowing up, my older brother owned the basement.  It was his tomb of sound, the place he went to meditate in music.  He dug heavy on the songwriters – Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Elton John and Foghat.   There were others, but I can hear songs from “Tumbleweed Connection” in my head right now, and once again, I’m 11 years old.  

If any man dared mess with Mike’s mental toys – break a needle, scratch a record, leave the liner notes laying around – you were going to get an eye-full of an overarching eyebrow like you’ve never seen before.

So, you stayed away and listened through the doorway.  

Unable to participate due to the gap in “attitude” we each embraced, I could still appreciate what I heard.  Poetic language touching on sometimes tragic subjects.  Clean, earthy vibes to flow off when you want to feel sad or elated.   Words to consider.

James Taylor was the rage on the east coast in the mid- ’70s.   Jackson Browne and his posse were rolling in the Canyon out west around the same time. And Paul Simon just owned the whole damn joint.  

And up here where the Granite shines, an educated man named Tom Rush was cutting his own swath with a few more years under his belt than those other songwriters.  

Rush was doing it in the late ’60s, living near the coast, just as the Dylans and Van Ronks were bringing word play front stage in the Village, hitting you with metaphor and phrasing that forced you to think, not just bop.      

Rush honed his skills in Cambridge and beyond.   He put a great first record out that, if I had to go down with the ship, I’d bring ”Take A Little Walk With Me” to float off.  It’s a bit greaser with a trucker beat to start off with. But once “Joshua Gone Barbados” arrives, that’s it, that’s the voice, it seems to me, we heard out of Rush going forth.  

Then his song, “No Regret,” exploded in 1968, and out of that one song a vessel of songwriters birthed all at once, ready to sing how it feels, write how it hurts, and sin to make words dance.    

Now, a million years later, Mr. Rush still performs up a storm.  Sure, he likes a quiet night at home at 82 years old but makes bones about it….well, I’ll just let one of our very favorite songwriters from NH, Don Bartenstein, tell us all about what Tom Rush means to him.   

“I can’t listen to Tom when I’m working,” The Don said, “because I have to stop and listen to the words.  Beautifully understated with nothing wasted.  A true representation of “less is more.”

With that, Tom Rush is playing at the Rex Theatre this Saturday March 25 at 7:30p.m.  Get your tickets here!

Now, an interview with Mr. Tom Rush.

Screenshot 2023 03 21 at 9.48.22 PM

Q. Let’s have some fun, Mr. Rush.  Supergroups like The Highwaymen, The Traveling Wilburys, Crosby Stills and Nash and Young and others have collaborated to create some really great, really fun music.  Who would be in your supergroup?  

Matt Nakoa (my current accompanist and a super talent), Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris. We should be able to cause some trouble!

Q. Was there ever a feeling of regret after your song “No Regret” exploded in 1968?  Like, “Oh, boy, how do I top that ditty?”

I actually don’t think “No Regrets” is my best-ever song — it happened to catch the eye (or ear) of some very popular artists (Emmylou, Waylon Jennings, Olivia Newton-John, U2, the Walker Brothers) and it kind of snowballed.

Q. New Hampshire is littered with terrific musicians, from the coast to the mountains and all-around Manchester and beyond.  Do you get a chance to see and hear the music you helped inspire from the legions of songwriters in the state? 

Not very much. As a traveling musician, my idea of a good time is a quiet evening at home!

Q. Let’s go back in time:  Tell us about your ultimate musical moment?  What can you see clearly in your mind’s eye as if it was yesterday? 

I’ve had so many ultimate moments it’s hard to pick one. Okay, playing Harvard Stadium with Melanie back in the ’70s. They’d planned to sell only, I think, 2,000 seats (out of 30,000 capacity), but so many people just showed up that they opened the gates and we had a full house!

Q. Lastly, the difference in music between your records “Take A Little Walk With Me” and “The Circle Game” is remarkable.  I hear influences from Dylan to Holly to Gene Vincent on “Take A Little…”  Then, over the course of two years, a new, original voice emerges.  Something completely opposite.  Tell us about that shift, if you can. 

I don’t think I was influenced by Dylan. (I remember thinking his songs were really good and if only he had a better voice he might stand a chance.) But I was running out of traditional folk/blues songs that excited me — which is why one side of the “Take a Little Walk” LP was old Rock ‘n’ Roll (plus a rocker that I wrote). What happened next was that I met, in various ways, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and James Taylor, all of whom were just starting out. I wasn’t really out to “discover” anybody, but I loved their songs. AND I teamed up with Paul Harris who did the orchestral arrangements, and that was really a departure for a “folk singer”!

Thank you, Mr. Rush!  Have a great show.


About this Author

Rob Azevedo

Rob Azevedo is an author, poet, columnist and radio host. He can be reached sitting in his barn at Pembroke City Limits and