In the lexicon of singer-songwriters, few shine as brightly as Tom Rush, who recently celebrated a milestone in his career as a musical performer. He has had such an impact on not only audiences worldwide but also hundreds of fellow artists with his guitar, songwriting, as well as mentoring skills. His abilities to take someone else’s songs and make them his own is another quality that just compounds his status. Last year Appleseed Recordings released DVD/CD set “Tom Rush Celebrates 50 Years of Music” (recorded at a Dec. 28, 2012 show at Boston Symphony Hall) that found some of his friends joining him for an incredible evening of his most memorable songs as well as some other surprises. I recently learned that he’s once again coming to Maine to perform, this time at Kents Hill School on May 17 and to that end, I called him on the phone at his home in Vermont to chat about is decades-long career and other points of interest…but started with a friendly query.

 

Q: How are you doing, sir?

Rush: Living the dream, babe, living the dream!

 

Q: You’re coming back to Maine again?

Rush: It looks like it and I’m looking forward to it — I hear it’s lovely this time of year.

 

Q: I’ve had the opportunity to listen to your live 50th Anniversary release and your last studio album, “What I Know.” Are you working on something new at this time?

Rush: Yup, I was just trying to put down a track of a new song that I just finished … when I’ve got enough of them I would like to go back into the studio with Jim Rooney and his band of merry men because that was a lot of fun.

 

Q: He was your producer for “What I Know,” correct?

Rush: That’s right — I’ve known Jim for a long time. He used to run the Club 47 in Cambridge. He’s more recently become a big-time producer in Nashville.

 

Q: When you started all this back in 1962 did you ever think, in your wildest dreams, that you’d have this much longevity in your musical career?

Rush: No, I had no clue that I was heading this way. I probably should have paid more attention if I’d known it would go on this long.

 

Q: Well, hearing you chuckle just now — and seeing the obvious pleasure you were experiencing on the DVD concert disc in your 2013 release — you really seem to be still enjoying yourself.

Rush: Oh, very much so. The shows are great, I love the shows, but traveling gets to me more and more. It’s onerous as years go by because quite a big part of it involves airplanes. But I love the shows — the shows are what it’s all about.

Q: How do you chose the songs you cover — I know you write your own, as well, but how do you pick the others?

Rush: It’s the goose-bump factor. Really, I wish I could tell you — I wish there was a formula — but as you know I do stuff all over the place. I do some funny songs, I do some sad songs, I do some up-tempo and some slow ballads. But sometimes I hear a song and go, “Wow, I know what I can do with that!” — there’s a chemistry that I can’t really explain. I wish I could call up a publishing house and say, “I need a song with this tempo, this subject matter …” but it doesn’t work that way.

 

Q: In my opinion, what you said about it being the “goose-bump factor” is the key — something that has an emotional impact on you — I think that the reason right there.

Rush: I think that’s right.

 

Q: Is this a solo show?

Rush: Yup, it’ll be just me and my guitars.

 

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article?

Rush: I would just urge them to check out www.tomrush.com — if they want more information on this gig or any of the other Maine gigs there are links at tomrush.com. They can also get their very own copy of the new CD/DVD set on there, as well.

 

Lucky Clark has spent forty-five years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.