Last week I saw folksinger Tom Rush at the Dakota Jazz Club. I’ve seen Tom Rush several times before, as he’s one of my Mom’s favorite singers. I reviewed his 2013 show at the Cedar Cultural Center here. Rush has performed at the Dakota before, and the venue is a great fit for his laid-back style. Rush made his first records during the folk music boom of the early 1960’s, recording on the Elektra label. (My Mom is pretty sure she bought her first Tom Rush album just because he was on Elektra, which was known as a great folk label.) Rush is probably best known for his 1968 album The Circle Game, which included his best-known song “No Regrets.”
Rush is a great entertainer, whether he’s singing, playing the guitar, or telling stories. I’ve heard many of his stories before, but Rush tells them as though it’s the first time. His honeyed baritone makes it easy to listen to him spin stories of meeting Joni Mitchell, and becoming the first person to record her songs. Rush is also a fantastic guitar player, one of the great finger-pickers. As always, a highlight was his version of “Panama Limited,” as he makes his guitar imitate many different train sounds.
Along for the ride with Rush was guitarist and pianist Matt Nakoa. I’ve seen Nakoa with Rush before, and his piano playing adds new textures to Rush’s songs. Rush played many new songs from a forthcoming album of all originals, and Nakoa played excellent blues piano on those tunes.
The concert was another enjoyable evening of folk and blues from Tom Rush. Rush may be 76 years old, but he still plays this music with the joy and enthusiasm of a young man discovering it for the first time.