World Cafe Live – Philadelphia
Tom Rush came to The World Cafe Live in Philly the other night. He was introduced by his good friend Gene Shay, “The Grandfather of Philadelphia Folk Music”. Rush is an old favorite in Philadelphia having played for years in the folk clubs like The Main Point, The Gilded Cage, and especially at The Philadelphia Folk Festival where I have previously photographed him at work.
OK, so Tom Rush is one of my favorites. Myself being on this earth for a number of years, almost as many as Rush, enjoying all of the music I have been lucky to have absorbed I totally enjoy attending and photographing a concert of one of the, dare I say, Old Folkies.
Rush brings his classic style of a guy with four guitars to the stage. He was accompanied and very well supported by Matt Nakoa on keyboards. Rush sings a lot of his own songs as well as those well known songs of other well known artists. He opened with “Hot Tonight” localizing some of the lyrics. How he fit Conshohocken into a song is incredible. Rush followed that with a new song “Hey Little Mama”. He got it in early in case it sucked and he would need the rest of the night to recover. Now folk music is all about telling stories. Stories about how love begins, how it ends and all that love in the middle. Sometimes though the song is just a funny story like the old geezer song “Old Blevins”.
Rush’s reputation of introducing and furthering the careers of others is also well known. His story of when he met Joni Mitchell and she caught his eye, or should I say ear, as she had maybe four songs that knocked him out, but after being asked if she had any more she delivered six more in about two weeks. One was “The Circle Game” great song so good that Rush used it to name his next album. He sang it well.
Rush then sang a Sleepy John Estes song “Drop Down Mama” and then turned the stage over to Matt Nakoa for a couple of solo songs. I was totally impressed by Nakoa and as much as I love the Old Folkies I also love the fact that they are always introducing me to new talent.
A couple more cover songs filled out the first set, “Mole”s Moan” by Geoff Muldaur and “The Panama Limited” by Bukka White but what really knocked me out was his cover of the Dobie Gray song “Drift Away”. I couldn’t help but sing along. I heard him sing this at David Bromberg’s Birthday Bash and was hoping he would include it. He did and it was just great.
Set number two was more of the same good, mellow, wonderful, folk music. Some of Rush’s songs, some covers including a John Prine cover “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian. One of those funny folk songs. Then Rush sang the big one. His biggest hit “No Regrets”. Truly a classic. Now one thing for me about “No Regrets”. Everytime I hear it now I think of the stupid candy bar commercial where a tattoo artist tattoos a guy with No Regerts. I’ll get over it. Rush encored the show with a “Who Do You Love” – “Hey Bo Diddley” – “Who Do You Love”
As I said before Tom Rush has been around for a while but I have to tell you, his voice is still incredible and his guitar playing, six string, twelve string, slide, absolutely wonderful. What a great night of music. Rush is looking to record a new album in Nashville so check out his website to see how you can get in on that and check his touring schedule.
Mark J. Smith