On October 1, 1989, the owners of new commercial AM folk radio station WADN out of Concord Massachusetts celebrated their recent launch with a free live on-air concert. Performing were: Chris Smither, Cheryl Wheeler, Sally Rogers and Howie Bursen, Bill Morrissey, Christine Lavin, Patty Larkin, Northern Lights, Shawn Colvin, and Tom Rush. This video of that concert was produced by volunteers from Boston’s public access TV station, BNN-TV – Boston Neighborhood Network.
Many, many, many, many thanks to all of you who’ve sent supportive messages. They’ve worked and I am recovered!! I still have a bit of healing to do, but fortunately I am young and strong — my quarantine is up today, Easter Sunday. (I’m not saying for a minute that there’s any deep significance there. Make of it what you will.)
I feel badly that I’ve not been able to reply personally to each and every missive, but I did read them all and loved every one. (And I probably will not be able to make replies for a while — I’m now swamped with all the things that didn’t get done while I was in bed with the bug. An unfortunate image!) I’m a very fortunate guy to have so many people who care!
Please, please, please do stay out of harm’s way. Stay At Home!! This bug has no sense of humor or fairness. We need to protect each other and, most importantly we need to protect the medical workers. They are the ones running toward the danger, and they need our help.
Shows: I screwed up a few days ago and posted some misinformation. Everything through June has been moved down the calendar, some to the fall, some for an entire year (including my eagerly-anticipated trip to the UK in June, now June 2021). But shows from July and onward are still on-schedule. Go to TomRush.com/shows for the latest show-by-show account. We’ll let you know if anything changes.
But for now, because I miss you, I’m going to try to offer you some entertainment in cyber-space (where “going viral” can be a ‘Good Thing™’).
I was half-asleep and the line floated by, “Sing Me A Story, Tell Me A Song.” Seemed like a good idea. We (my cyber-crew and I — I’m from the steam age and am uncomfortable with things that go “beep”) are working to set up a weekly on-line live get-together. The format I’m envisioning is that I’ll pick a song to sing for you, there will be some live Q&A (where I will select the Questions to which I actually have Answers, or for which I am able to make up something interesting), AND then I’ll tell you a Story. This, I think, is the good part.
I’m working on a book about what it’s like to be a travelling musician, and part of that book will be stories of some of the improbable things that have happened over the years and miles. I’ll send out a follow-up newsletter when we’re ready to launch (fasten seatbelts!) and give you a list of story titles (“The Naked Dwarf Tag-Team Wrestling Act.” “Steve Goodman and the Giant Rabbit.” “Clint Eastwood and the Hashish Brownie.” I have two pages-worth of just titles!) and we’ll have a mechanism whereby you can vote for the story you’d like to hear that week, and that’s the one I’ll tell. Could be fun!!
Please, please … stay safe, stay well, Stay At Home!!
Happy Passover, Joyous Easter, Glorious Spring!
All the best,
Quote of the Month: Not a quote really, but a link to a video enhancement of one of my all-time favorite songs from one of my all time favorite albums (of mine), the oft-overlooked New Year from Symphony Hall in Boston in 1981. Tim Jackson, the drummer on the piece and a member of the band for many great years, put some train footage to it and I think it’s lovely: https://vimeo.com/406302565
Thank you Tim! (The playing is all superb, but Bromberg’s Dobro part and Josh Schneider’s sax are … well, give it a listen!)
This letter first appeared April 8, 2020 in the Boston Globe §§
I did not know him well, not as well as I would wish. We worked together on a few occasions, ran into each other at a couple of gatherings. I knew him mainly, as did most of us, through his work, his songs.
He had me from “Angel from Montgomery.” Damn, that song was so strong, so true, it took your breath away. This in spite of the fact that there’s a guy singing, “I am an old woman, named after my mother. . .” It took about a tenth of a second to get over the, “Wait! He’s not an old woman!” bit and get swept away by the power of the story, get drawn into the picture he was painting. (Also, there was the part that it never seemed to even occur to him that he was not, in fact, an old woman, he understood and occupied that character so fully and empathetically.)
And then there were all the other shining gems that made us love him, the sideways, sometimes upside-down takes on life that had us smiling and singing along. Ways of looking at things that were new to the world but were expressed so forcefully and engagingly that you could not turn away — there was no choice in the matter, you had to love him.
No movie-star looks, no soaring tenor or dazzling guitar licks. He didn’t need them. He saw truths that had never occurred to us before, and offered them up in a brand-new, loving way that could not be denied.
Goodbye, John Prine. I am sadder than I have been in a long, long time.
I have just tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. I have no idea where I picked it up but strongly suspect it was sometime on or after March 11th when I was on my way north from my string of shows in NC, GA and FL early in March.
Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, IF you were at any of the shows listed here, and were shaking hands or taking selfies with me in the lobby during intermission or at the end of the evening, PLEASE be extra-vigilant for symptoms (fever, headache, dry cough, nausea).
We have to stop blaming each other. Forget about whose fault everything is — it’s a divisive distraction and is precisely what Uncle Vladimir wants, for us to divide and bicker, when the answer is to pull together.
At the same time, we cannot wait any longer for instruction from above — it is not forthcoming. Our leaders are not leading, but rather are trying to recruit us to join them in finger-poiniting. We must take a hard look at the things that need to be done NOW, and start to do them NOW.
I submit that sheltering in place is an absolutely essential first step. Please take five minutes and watch this clip from Dr. Emily Porter (Rep Katie Porter’s sister):
This is the most cohesive, articulate and persuasive explanation of “Flattening the Curve” I’ve seen anywhere.
Then contemplate the difference in the virus’s trajectory in China, where they enforced very draconian isolation measures to stop the spread (and succeeded), to Italy, where they did nothing.
For basic answers to basic questions about the virus, go to:https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center#COVID
(One of the startling things I saw there was that you may remain infectious for weeks after you’ve “recovered”!)
In the absence of cohesive leadership from above, we must all take action at the individual and community level. I offer the following — rough and unpolished, but heartfelt:
We Are America
We Are America.
We tend to forget that.
We tend to lie back,
And wait for someone else,
To do the work.
But it’s not the leaders
that make America great,
We do. You do and I do,
If we stop and think about it.
We can’t wait for orders from The Top.
(The Top is all too often focused
on covering their Bottom …
And their bottom line.)
So, what do we do?
We do what we have done
So many times before —
We look out for each other.
We are the first responders now,
going where the need is,
To help any way we can.
To pick each other up when we fall down.
This is not the time for finger-pointing,
If it needs to be done … do it!
There are so many of us
who can help to fill the voids.
We will not come out unscathed —
we never have —
but we will come out strong —
we always do.
Because you and I,
and our millions of mothers and fathers
and sisters and brothers
and neighbors of all descriptions,
YOU are America.
I am America.
Say it out loud:
WE ARE AMERICA
Stay safe, stay healthy! I’ll be back in touch shortly with some from-home offerings of songs and stories — hopefully, a smile or two.
All the best,
What you can do (other than taking pains not to spread that virus you may not know you have). Our heroic health care workers are struggling with a drastic lack of basic gear.
Got a sewing machine? Google How to Make a Face Mask. They may not meet hospital specs, but could work in the community and thereby free up supplies for our heroes in the IC Ward.
Look around your community — if someone is doing something useful, pitch in and help. (And don’t worry who he voted for or if she’s a 6th Day Adventist instead of 7th Day — the virus doesn’t give a damn and neither should you!)
Hang in there — if we pull together we can do this!
After a bit of soul-searching, I’ve decided to ask the venues for the rest of my shows in March to reschedule further down the calendar, possibly in the fall. (Some of these venues had already come to this decision.) If you have tickets, the venue should be in touch about a refund if you cannot make the rescheduled date.
I’m really, really sorry about this! I was very much looking forward to playing these shows at some of my favorite places for some of my favorite people (you), but I know that a lot of us are among the “vulnerable” part of the population, and I would hate for my shows to play any part in spreading this virus around. We’ll decide about the April shows in a week or so, once we get a better sense of the trajectory of this thing. (In New Hampshire, “panic shopping” was expressed in a run on the liquor stores. Gotta stock up, y’know?)
Meanwhile, I hope to get some writing done and, as a way of keeping in touch, am thinking about launching a subscription service at Patreon.com. (You pledge $x per month and I will send you a kitchen-table recording per month of a brand-new song, or some draft pages from one of the three books I’m working on, or … something else?) More on this later.