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Tom Rush to perform at One Longfellow Square

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Legendary folk singer and guitarist Tom Rush is scheduled to take the stage at Portland’s One Longfellow Square with multi-instrumentalist Matt Nakoa on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 8:00 pm. The artist says he’s looking forward to connecting with fans in the smallest room that he plays.

“It’s fun to be in a room where you can really see the people you’re playing for,” Rush told The Maine Edge. “It feels like you’re carrying on a conversation.”

A central figure of the Boston and Cambridge folk music scene of the early 1960s, Rush has been cited as a major influence by artists including Garth Brooks and James Taylor. He became the first artist to record songs written by Taylor, Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell on his 1968 album “The Circle Game,” effectively ushering in the singer-songwriter movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“I’ve been accused of discovering those songwriters, but I wasn’t out to discover anybody,” Rush says today. “I was simply looking for material to make an album, and fortunately Joni, Jackson and James all came along with these fabulous songs.”

Characteristically modest, Rush neglects to mention that “The Circle Game” also includes “No Regrets,” his original composition that has inspired numerous covers, including versions by The Walker Brothers, Shirley Bassey, and Midge Ure.

A new Tom Rush record is a reason for celebration. As he nears his 60th year as a touring and recording artist, Rush’s catalog is considerably smaller than those of his contemporaries like Neil Young or Bob Dylan – and he is perfectly fine with that.

Last year, Rush released “Voices” – a beautiful album containing 10 Rush originals and two traditional folk songs. Rush’s baritone is a little deeper these days but his gift for telling a story and marrying it with a memorable melody is as strong as ever.

“It’s the first album where I wrote almost every song,” Rush says of “Voices.” “For whatever reason, I’ve been writing a lot.” He was speaking specifically of songwriting, but Rush has also been regularly sharing his thoughts and observations with fans who sign up to receive his free email newsletter at Each edition contains Tom’s dry, often self-effacing humor, stories from the road and observations on just about everything.

“That’s a lot of fun,” Rush says of putting his newsletter together. “In the latest one, I say that I’m very old and wise and my children say I’m at least half right, which is a higher percentage than they usually grant me.”

Subscribers to Rush’s newsletter also receive periodic “Kitchen Table” recordings, which are exactly what you think: private recordings of Rush performing newly written material or his take on a song by another artist.

Rush says it’s always an honor when someone records one of his songs, but he admits he wasn’t sure what to think after he moved to Kittery Point and heard about a group called The Rushmores who were planning a concert at the Dance Hall in Kittery.

“It’s a bunch of guys who get together occasionally and do their own versions of my songs that I’ve recorded over the years,” Rush says. “That’s a pretty huge compliment when someone thinks so highly of your work.”

Rush has invited The Rushmores to back him for his upcoming birthday bash on February 8, 2020, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (his birthplace) at the almost 200-year old South Church.

“This will be the first time I’ve had a band behind me for decades,” he says. Even though The Rushmores do their own arrangements of songs recorded by Tom Rush, the birthday concert will see the Rush and the group replicating “as best we can,” his original recordings.

More information about that birthday concert is coming soon to The Maine Edge. In the meantime, get a ticket and get to One Longfellow Square (on the corner of State and Congress) in Portland for an unforgettable evening of songs and stories with Tom Rush on Wednesday, December 4.

Trust me, the man has stories.

Last modified on Sunday, 01 December 2019 08:48


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