Tom Rush Talks Songwriting & Performing

Tom Rush Talks Songwriting & Performing – Schimmel Center at Pace University December 9, 2016

When Tom Rush was a student at Harvard University in the early sixties, he hosted a Tuesday evening radio program on the college station WHRB called Balladeers that featured his own performances on the air as well as a different guest each week.  In order to recruit the artists to play on his radio show, he spent time in the coffee houses and cafes around Harvard Square and beyond.   The hours spent in this way didn’t help his grades but did help Rush develop a discriminating ear and eye regarding the best talent on that burgeoning scene.  It also, of course, gave him ample opportunity to cop guitar licks and help him find his own voice.  The legendary Club 47 was one block away from his dorm room.  As Rush told me prior to the show at the Schimmel Center earlier this month, “that was dangerous.”

Tom Rush has never really abandoned the concept of that radio show which paired his work with artists he was excited about it and wanted to share. By recording their songs, he was instrumental to the careers of Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and James Taylor.  When I asked him what we was most proud of in his career, he passed over his enviable body of work and enduring success as a songwriter or performer.   He replied, “I think I’ve helped some up and comers come up.”  That led to praise for Matt Nakoa and Seth Glier who were part of the event at the lovely 672 seat downtown venue.  Nakoa will again share the bill with Rush in April.  That show, put on by First Acoustics, is at the First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn Heights.  

Rush has been enjoying a fruitful writing period and may head down to Nashville where he recorded 2009’s What I Know (which he considers his finest work) to record an album entirely of his compositions.  


2 Responses

  1. Sasha Barcus says:

    Terrific! Can’t wait to hear the new compositions. Will there be any smaller shows in the Boston, NH, VT area?

  2. Burton Keeble says:

    I heard Tom playing Cannonball Limited in the Club 47 (Palmer St) in the winter of 1963. Great then; great now! That one, and Urge for Going (a few years later) are my favorite Tom Rush performances.

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