75-year-old Tom Rush continues to serenade on stage in an evening at the Schimmel Center. The seasoned folk singer/songwriter, who ushered in the folk revival era of the ‘60s and its renaissance in the ‘80s and ‘90s, joined forces with his cohort of long time friends and veteran players Marshal Rosenberg (percussion), Paul Guzzone (bass) and Joe Nearny (saxophone/harmonica). Now, he’s also sharing the stage with featured guest artists Seth Glier and Matt Nakoa, exposing a new wave of folk talent to audiences.
Tom kicked off the night with a little ditty and warm welcome to the crowd, then passed the baton off to Seth Glier. Seth hails from Massachusetts and grew up learning to listen through the experience of caring for his brother who is nonverbal with autism. In recent years, he has expanded messages of political awareness and explored his affinity for intimate sounds in his songwriting.
Seth employed eclectic instrumentation such as shekere, kick box and harmonica with his guitar and vocals, or sometimes just voice and piano to create delicate moments of connection with the audience. His rendition of “Wild Horses” was a highlight, showcasing the prowess of notable auxiliary members in the band, namely Joe Nearny, who all contributed to the virtuosity, complexity and sensationalism of the music on Friday night.
Matt Nakoa left us breathless with his album title track, “Light In the Dark,” a blue spotlight fixed on him crooning at the piano. The music was of symphonic scale and show-stopping, cosmic proportion.
Rush broke these dainty moments with his cracked wit and upbeat folk blues ballads like, “Come See By Me,” featuring slide guitar, “Sleepy John,” and others reminiscent of Arlo Guthrie, The Band, and ‘50s rock and roll with honking saxophones and gritty keyboard riffs. He even played some new songs he’d written while he was visiting a cabin with Arlo and his other friends, an enticing treat for the audience.
As the night came to a close, Tom reminded us to appreciate life and what we have in the moment with his folk ballad “Life is Fine,” and ended with Bo Diddley’s, “Who Do You Love” for a hootenanny of an encore. As Tom put it in his song “Old Blevins,” he said, “blah blah blah blah, you should’ve been there.”