Tom Rush

February 22. 2013 9:08PM

Tom Rush (Michael Wiseman)

Folk musician Tom Rush was born in Portsmouth on February 8, 1941. His father was a teacher at St. Paul's School in Concord. In an interview he described "growing up" at St. Paul's, but he was sent to the Groton School, a private Episcopal college preparatory boarding school in Massachusetts, for his primary education.

After graduation, he was accepted into and attended the prestigious Harvard University, where he majored in English Literature. He began playing regularly at Club 47 coffeehouse in Cambridge, the Unicorn in Boston and The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, PA.

His 1968 album, The Circle Game has been credited by Rolling Stone Magazine as "ushering in the singer/songwriter era." In it he covered three songs by his folk contemporaries Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and James Taylor. The album was unique in that each track was part of a bigger story that made up the record; it followed a relationship from its beginning to its end. The final track, "No Regrets" has become a folk standard and has been covered numerous times including by the Walker Brothers who made it a Top 10 hit on the UK singles chart.

On March 28, 2012, Rush decided to celebrate 50 years of "doing whatever it is I do." So he went back to where it all began, Club 47 (now known as Club Passim) in Cambridge. The club has a sign out front that reads "Club 47: Here Joan Baez and Bob Dylan sang duets, Muddy Waters played the blues, and Tom Rush, the Charles River Valley Boys, and Eric Von Schmidt led the 60s folk revival." They also did a live web cast of the show, since it sold out in an hour. The show was a fundraiser for the New England Folk Music Archives.

After his early success in the 60s, Rush was big part of the folk revival of the 80s and 90s after having influenced dozens of artists. James Taylor, in a Rolling Stone interview said, "Tom was not only one of my early heroes, but also one of my main influences." Even country mega-star credited Rush as being one of his top five musical influences.

During the 70s, Rush adapted to the new style of folk-rock and spent the decade touring extensively before returning to his New Hampshire farm to take a break. In 1981, he sold out Boston's Symphony Hall in advance. The show was so well-received it became an annual event, eventually turning into a three-night run that included other artists such as Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris. The show was known as the Club 47 Series and Tom ultimately took it on the road. The shows are still performed today and have been featured on PBS and NPR.

In 1999, a 17-track compilation record, No Regrets: The Very Best of Tom Rush, was released that included a retrospective of his music and a new song, "The River Song," which featured vocal contributions by Shawn Colvin and Marc Cohn.

In the past decade or so, Tom has continued to record. In 2009, he released What I Know, his first studio record in 35 years. He also continues to tour, playing regularly throughout New England, where he most certainly feels at home.

Tom Hunt: Remember Song

MusicNH PeoplePortsmouth

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