Friday, December 9, 2016

Tom Rush at the Schimmel Center at Pace University

Tom Rush was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and in the early 1960s attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Rush hosted a weekly radio program on the college station on which featured his own performances and performances by guests he recruited from the local coffee houses circuit. Much of his early music consisted of his original songs, covers of contemporary folk songs and interpretations of Lowland Scots and Appalachian folk songs. He was already well established in the folk circuit when by the late 1960s the scene gravitated to the singer-songwriter genre. Ushering in that era, Rush included in his sets several songs by Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and James Taylor, helping them to gain recognition early in their careers. Rush's career faded away to a New Hampshire farm in the mid-1970s, resurfacing in 2009 with his first album in 35 years. Based again in Massachusetts, his 25th and most recent album, 2013's Tom Rush Celebrates 50 Years of Music, includes a DVD of his 50th anniversary concert in Boston.

Once a mainstay in the Greenwich Village music scene, Rush's concerts in New York are now rare. He headlined the 672-seat Schimmel Center at Pace University tonight, performing solo and with a small band (saxophonist Joe Nearny, bassist Paul Guzzone and percussionist Marshal Rosenberg), and introducing mini-sets by Seth Glier and Matt Nakoa. At age 75, Rush was in perky spirit, singing richly and expressively, playing folk and blues guitar, and sharing his endearing stories with wry humor. The set was lullaby-soft and gentle, with upbeat and melancholy ballads interspersed with witty story-songs that were uplifted with extended saxophone and piano riffs. The set was comprised of new songs and old favorites like "No Regrets" and ended with a Bo Diddley hoedown of "Who Do You Love" for an encore. Rush has matured tenderly and his performance offered ripened nostalgia for the folk scene of a half century ago.

Visit Tom Rush at