August 1, 2021

Peter Stone Brown Archives

Archives of musician and writer

Of Tom Rush and No Regrets

Tom Rush in 1964, photo by Jim Eng
Tom Rush in 1964, photo by Jim Eng

Way back in the early to mid 1960s, The Boston/Cambridge folk scene was only slightly behind New York City in terms of significance.  There were several singers and groups from Cambridge, but Tom Rush probably had the biggest impact.  Originally he did a mix of folk songs and blues.  He was a skilled guitar player, playing a ’64 Epiphone Texan.

Originally on Prestige Records, he moved to Elektra in 1965, releasing Tom Rush which featured such players as John Sebastian on harp, John Herald (under the pseudonym Daddy Bones) on guitar, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and bassist Bill Lee.  His extended version of Bukka White’s “Panama Limited” received a lot of airplay.

In 1966, following Dylan’s lead he started using a band on his records and used many of the musicians who played on Dylan’s first two “electric” albums including guitarist Bruce Langhorne, keyboard player Al Kooper, bassist Harvey Brooks and drummer, Bobby Gregg, covering Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley on one side, along with his first original, “On The Road Again” and his typical mix of ballads and blues on the other side.  But roughly around the same time, he started playing songs in concert by songwriters most people (at the time) didn’t know about, namely Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and James Taylor.  They dominated his next album, “The Circle Game,” released in 1968.  But for a good two years before that album came out, he was singing those songs in concert and certain folk djs were playing his version of Mitchell’s “The Urge For Going” on various radio stations around the country.

He then moved to Columbia Records and continued introducing new songwriters such as David Wiffen whose song “Driving Wheel” became an instant radio favorite and Murray McLauchlan. But by the mid-’70s, burnt out from touring, and not thrilled with the demands of a major label, he retired to his native New Hampshire to become a farmer.

He returned to performing six years later with a sold out concert at Boston’s Symphony Hall and since then had toured occasionally usually at select venues when he feels like it, and also occasionally recording.

Now there is a documentary film about Rush, No Regrets that is debuting today and repeating Sunday at the New Hampshire Film Festival in Portsmouth.  The film was made by Todd Kwait and Rob Stegman, who did the recent documentary on the legendary Cambridge venue, Club 47, For The Love Of Music.

The film traces Rush’s life as an adopted child of a blue blood family to attending Harvard to his life as a musician and beyond.

The trailer for the film is here:

Tom Rush: “No Regrets” will be shown at The Loft on Thursday, October 17, from

2:55 to 4:20 p.m., and at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre on Sunday, October 20,

from 12:40 p.m. to 2:05 p.m.. Both screenings will include a “Q&A” segment.