The Beach Boys and Rolling Stones were not the only artists to recently celebrate their golden anniversaries. The career of Tom Rush began in 1962 when he was a student in the Boston area. He celebrated his 50th anniversary in fine style with a concert at Boston Symphony Hall, December 28, 2012. A number of longtime friends were along for the ride, including Jonathan Edwards, David Bromberg, Dom Flemons, and Trevor Veitch. A chronicle of that evening will be released August 13, 2013 as a 13-song CD and 16-track DVD.
Today Tom Rush falls into the singer-songwriter category, but during the 1960s he was an important part of the of the folk music revivalist movement. In addition to his own songwriting skills, he has always had an ear for a good song. He covered tunes by Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, and James Taylor before they received mainstream commercial success.
While his solo performance of “Child’s Song” is emblematic of his style and much of his career, here he is accompanied by a full band that fills in and expands his sound without distracting from the music’s original intent. Guitarists Bromberg and Veitch, mandolin player Robin Batteau, saxophonist Joe Mennonna, background vocalist and harp player Edwards, pianist David Buskin, bassist Paul Guzzone, percussionist Marshal Rosenberg, and an array of other background vocalists fill the stage with sound, textures, and people.
He presents a number of songs that span his career. A calm rendition of “No Regrets/Rockport Sunday,” the complete band approach of “Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm,” and a laid-back cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Urge for Going” are highlights.
He has always had an affinity for the blues. His cover of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” was one of his defining performances and here it returns in a rocking version. Likewise, Sleepy Joe Estes’ “Drop Down Mama” is given the same treatment.
Rush is a master storyteller, whether they be his own words or someone else’s. These stories permeate the performances and leave a lasting impression of his importance in the stream of American music.
His supporting cast steps forward a number of times to occupy the spotlight. David Bromberg gives a sparse performance of “Statesboro Blues,” accompanied only by his acoustic guitar and Dom Flemons’ harp. There is the beauty of Robin Batteau’s “Lancelot’s Song,” the fun of David Buskin’s “Jews Don’t Camp,” plus Jonathan Edwards and ensemble’s “Get Together” and solo “My Love Will Keep.” In the same vein, Dom Flemons involves the whole group on “Your Baby Ain’t Sweet Like Mine” and solos on “My Little Lady.”
Tom Rush celebrated his anniversary with friends. I would have liked a little more Rush, but it was an appropriate way for him to honor his life’s journey in music. Hopefully Celebrates 50 Years of Music will only be a pause as he looks ahead.