We were really psyched when friends asked us if we were interested in seeing Tom Rush at the Bull Run. Oh yeah. Tom's like the Bob Dylan of folk (I'm saying this with a straight face, it's all a matter of perspective), and we'd "wanted" to see him for years but not wanted to experience the folk rage associated with him.
Anyway, though life sucks, we showed up in Shirley at 6:30 to meet our friends for dinner before an 8:00 show and the Bull Run was PACKED already. We got beer and dinner and yucked it up pretty good. This is a fun place you should check out if you don't know it. I thought there was going to be an opening act but there wasn't and Tom came on a bit after 8, wearing his old guitar and looking like a Mark Twain re-enactor with his perfectly coiffed white hair and handlebar mustache. But you could tell he was an old Cambridge stoner!
This was another of those shows with a musical legend who lived up to his billing; a few songs in and I was completely entranced with his ability to sing those lyrics that I'd heard a thousand times and make them meaningful and to strum those chords I'd been hearing in the back of my mind since high school and make them shine.
Tom opened by himself and then brought out Eric Lilljequist and Dean Adrian on vocals and guitars when he needed a bit more orchestration. They played a 40-minute first set and then after a long break played a 30-minute second set with a long encore. Not bad for some old guys!
Tom has an incredible catalog to draw from and his set list was fantastic. He opened with Gonna Get Hot Tonight, did Urge For Going early on, did an ethereal Jamaica Say You Will (with good story about Jackson Browne), and closed the first set with an excellent rendition of his mashup of Bukka White tunes under the name of Panama Limited. He did Joshua Gone Barbados, a beautiful mid-second set no-holds-barred No Regrets/Rockport Sunday with classic introduction ("the seagulls, the church bells, the waves crashing on the shore"), and a rocking Merrimac County, the song that first made me love his music.
Hard to believe that that large crowd wasn't on their feet cheering after that, but I guess people were trying to be folk-cool ... forty years too late. Tom came back out anyway by himself and launched into Child's Song. Just hit us with a pickle, how could you think of a more emotion-laden, sentimental song than that ("Little sister, you'll have to wait a while ...")? Eric and Dean came back out and they did Tom's mashup of Who Do You Love and Hey Bo Diddley, which rocked.
Tom walked off and then spent hours signing at the merch table. He sure showed some signs to me of his old magic. In particular, his left-hand guitar fingering was so much what I'd been listening to and drooling over since I was a pup. His voice wasn't quite up to my memories and he didn't rock out as much as I was hoping, but this was a wonderful show by one of the most veteran performers of *my* life. He's sure covered some ground from when I first saw him in 1974.