Commentary by Zach Dunkin
On his website tomrush.com, folk icon Tom Rush offers young people seeking a career in music two pieces of advice:
One, play in front of a live audience as much as possible because, he says, “You will learn more in 30-minutes of live performance than you will in a month of rehearsing in the garage.”
Two, do your best to form a personal bond with your audience. “Try to engage them from the stage; tell them stories, make them laugh, make them care about you.”
That approach to the profession has worked for the 74-year-old musician for more than 50 years — ever since his first regular gig when “engaging” his audience too well cost him the job. Music fans will be able to witness for themselves just how engaging Rush can be when he plays at The Warehouse on May 19.
By putting the performer and the fan on the same level, Rush creates an atmosphere of comfort and familiarity. Audiences come for distinctive acoustic guitar style – he occasionally uses a dinner knife when playing – his rich baritone vocals and his humorous storytelling.
“Rolling Stone” magazine credits Rush for ushering in the era of the singer- songwriter in the early 1960’s. In addition to performing his own tunes such as signature song “No Regrets,” Rush sang songs by Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and others, assisting them to gain notice early in their careers.
And, about that first “too successful gig? It happened in 1961 at the Salamander Coffee House in Boston. After his first night of vying for the customers’ attention while they chatted over coffee, he was told there would be no second night. Why? It seems the audience was listening to him instead ordering more java. Rush said it is one of the strangest compliments he has ever received.
Where: The Warehouse, 254 1st Ave. SW, Carmel
When: 7:30 p.m., May 19
Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased at liveforthemusic.com.