BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Returning to Boston’s Symphony Hall, site of his definitive live performance some 30 years before, Tom Rush offers an inspiring overview of a career that reaches back to the seminal days of the ‘60s folk renaissance. Gathering a host of friends and fellow travellers — Jonathan Edwards, Buskin & Batteau and David Bromberg among them — Rush presides over a magical evening filled with exceptional music and magical memories.
It’s appropriate that this particular set of songs is accompanied by a DVD which not only adds extra selections, but also offers the benefit of between-song patter. Jonathan Edwards’ explanation of why he’s barefoot provides a wry nod and a wink (“I left them at airport security. If they want them that bad, they can have them”), just as Bromberg’s cracks about the hosts age find an all too easy target. What’s more, Buskin & Batteau’s telling “Jews Don’t Camp,” a video-only offering, is nothing less than out-and-out hilarious (Apparently after spending 40 years in the desert, they have a natural aversion to further outdoor activity.) Rush himself, with his bushy mane and crisp white suit, looks like Mark Twain incarnate, adding both levity and authority to this rotating cast of quirky characters.
Appropriately then, Rush’s own selections, culled from throughout his career, reflect the wisdom and grace of an artist generally credited with helping to elevate the careers of Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell by covering their songs early on. His take on Mitchell’s “Urge for Going” is especially affecting, although his take on “Circle Game” is sorely missed. Still, the inclusion of “Drivin’ Wheel,” “No Regrets” and “Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm” provide a satisfying sampling of songs that have become an indelible part of the modern folk lexicon. With friends in tow, both onstage and off, Tom Rush’s celebration is clearly an occasion that everyone can embrace.
DOWNLOAD: “Jews Don’t Camp,” “Urge for Going,” “No Regrets/Rockport Sunday”