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His 1965 album, The Circle Game, is said to have ushered in the singer/songwriter era, and artists as diverse as James Taylor and Garth Brooks credit him as influences. His songs have been hits as folk, country, heavy metal and rap tunes, but it will always be the sweetness of the ballads and the grit of the blues that people remember. He is Tom Rush, a legend with humility, a guitar hero who majored in English Lit at Harvard.
Rush began his musical career in the early 1960s, playing the club scene while at Harvard. Club 47 was the premier club and he soon had a weekly gig there, learning from the legendary artists who came to play, honing his skills and developing his gigantic talent. By the time he graduated, he had released two albums.
Rush has always had the knack for finding great songs and writing his own. In the early 1970s, when folk took on a folk rock cast, Rush branched out. He toured with his five-man band, playing concerts around the country. After five years of touring, recording and promoting his work, he retired for several years to his New Hampshire farm. He came back in 1981, selling out Boston’s Symphony Hall. Knowing that his audiences were interested in both the old and the new, he set out to create a music forum like Club 47 to allow newcomers to share the stage with established artists. A few concerts turned into the Club 47 series, featuring concerts with well-known artists like Bonnie Raitt or Emmylou Harris with (then) newcomers like Alison Krauss and Mark O’Connor. Rush took the show on the road and Club 47 events have played prestigious concert halls and been seen on PBS and NPR specials.
On Dec. 28, 2012, Rush appeared at Boston’s Symphony Hall to celebrate 50 years in the music business, but he is still releasing albums and touring, especially with pianist Matt Nakoa. When he is not touring, he’s at his New Hampshire farm. His voice is richer and his music has matured and ripened with the blending of traditional and modern influences. He is still a terrific story-teller who is doing what he loves and his audience loves him for it.
Matt Nakoa is an internationally touring singer/songwriter who tours frequently with Tom Rush. He grew up in rural New York on a goat farm and discovered music as an escape. He trained to be a concert pianist and was accepted into the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied alongside St. Vincent and Esperanza Spalding. After school, he landed in New York’s vibrant piano bar scene, becoming a star performer at Manhattan’s Brandy’s Piano Bar. The Boston Globe said, “Nakoa does not disappoint…Actually, between his piano chops, charismatic stage presence and heartfelt originals on guitar…he drops jaws.”
Tom Rush was more succinct. “Matt is definitely on his way up. I’m hoping he’ll let me open for him when he’s doing stadiums.”
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