Tom Rush - '60s flashback with still-great music

Monday, 25 October 2010 12:00 AM Written by 
Tom Rush (Jim White photo)

It wasn't exactly a blues night out, but there was plenty of good music, fine and funny story-telling and a fair amount of nostalgia for us old-timers in the audience for a Tom Rush concert Saturday night.

But he did play a few blues numbers.

Rush is one of the veterans of the folk music scene from the 1960s, having got his start in the Boston, Mass., area, and he's still going strong with guitar and voice. Rush was one of the originals of his day, and often gets credited for helping to create the contemporary era of the singer-songwriter.

The stories he tells between songs flash genuine wit and lean heavily on his troubedorian travels and easy sense of humor.

His music could almost be described the same way -- slices of life, some rich with poignant lyrics and elegant melodies, some fluffed with sharp, sly wit.

He played songs that were immediately recognizable -- his classic "Urge for Going," "No Regrets," "The Child Song" (which he called one of the finest songs ever written), and others not quite so classic, but immensely enjoyable -- Sleepy John Estes' "Drop Down Mama," the Austin L:ouge Lizards' "Old Blevins" (very funny), a Bukka White train song melange and his second ecore, Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" (the first encore was "The Child Song").

Carol Lee Espy (Jim White photo)
He played a number of songs from his latest album (his first studio album in 35 years), including "Hot Tonight," "River Song," "What I Know" and "Drift Away."

He paced the songs, their styles and his story-telling with impeccable timing. His unruly white hair and droopy moustache lent him airs of both wit and wisdom, and he played both roles effortlessly.

It was a great night of musical entertainment.

Pittsburgh singer-songwriter Carol Lee Espy played an opening set of sweet, melodious tunes with folk and country overtones. Accompanying her were Pete Freeman (The Mavens) on steel guitar and her husband, Jim DiSpirito (Rusted Root) on percussion.

The evening was the second in this season's series of Calliope shows at the Carnegie Lecture Hall (the first was a rousing John Hammond concert). They've got more good stuff on the way. Check out their schedule.

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