Longtime Singer-Songwriter Tom Rush Headed To Parsippany: See When

PARSIPPANY, NJ — Rolling Stone magazine once said that musician Tom Rush ushered in the singer-songwriter era, an “accusation” which Rush jokingly told Patch he was “never indicted for.” The storied singer-songwriter will perform in Parsippany on March 22, and just released the studio album “Gardens Old, Flowers New” on March 1.

“I’m kind of calling 2024 my ‘63rd Annual Farewell Tour,’” Rush quipped. “So, I’ve been around a bit.”

Rush’s 1968 album “The Circle Game” introduced fans to Joni Mitchell, who wrote the title track and two others on the record; as well as James Taylor and Jackson Browne. And, it features Rush’s own composition “No Regrets,” which numerous other artists have covered. That collaborative spirit – and a passion for quality songwriting – are hallmarks of his career.

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Rush has been performing since the early 1960s, when he was a student at Harvard, and has toured steadily since then while recording new albums, live concerts, and retrospectives. From Boston’s Symphony Hall to Carnegie Hall in New York and the Kennedy Center in D.C. he has shared the stage with Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, Mark O’Connor, and many more.

“I’ve always enjoyed introducing my crowd to people they don’t know,” he said in an interview with Patch.

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Now at 83, the folk and blues musician said many of his “tourlets” are in the Northeast, where he still lives – but he will venture to California, the Midwest, and Florida occasionally.

“I want my shows to be a little bit of a vacation from the stuff that’s bothering you,” he said.

Rush will perform on March 22, as part of the At The Tabernacle music series in Parsippany. He will be accompanied by this album’s producer Matt Nakoa, and featuring special guest Cheryl Wheeler. Show time is 7:30 p.m.

Rush credited Nakoa, who he said is “a monster talent” in his own right, for his “very active” input on the album and for playing multiple instruments.

Rush also lauded Wheeler, whom he said the audience “is gonna love.”

“Gardens Old, Flowers New” contains some songs that Rush said were seeded long ago, but never on an album until now. The second track, the bright and somewhat bittersweet “Glory Road,” is one he said was written 50 years ago.

“I think it’s my best so far,” he said of the new album, which has 14 tracks.

The opening song, “Sailing,” has been doing well on SiriusXM, he said. And Rush gives a nod to Joni Mitchell’s “Urge For Going” on the final track, the jazzy and staccato tune “I Quit.”

The title phrase “gardens old, flowers new” appears in two songs, one of which Rush said he wrote when his daughter was a baby.

“For thousands and tens of thousands of years, people have watched their children grow up and watched their kids learning about the world,” he said. “An old garden, but new flowers.”

Rush said that Nakoa mentioned that the title could also refer to Rush himself – still making new music after all this time.

“There have been, over the years, a lot of new flowers,” he mused. “So I guess it’s an accurate description.”

This latest album was released through Appleseed Recordings, where Rush landed in 2009. After being with a record label where executives referred to his music as “product,” Rush said he appreciated that Appleseed boss Jim Musselman “is in it because he loves the music, which is refreshing.”

Rush commented on how much the music industry has changed, with streaming services becoming so popular and yet paying artists only a fraction per play, and the difficulty of selling merchandise now.

“Back in the day, if you didn’t have a record deal, you didn’t exist,” he said. “It’s a whole different world. A kid with a laptop can make recordings in her bedroom – some are great, some are terrible, but you don’t need a record company to connect anymore.”

“They say LPs are coming back, but it’s a long way back from where you could sell millions of records,” he continued. “I’ve always made my living on stage, but it makes it difficult (for other artists).”

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, when he was unable to perform in-person, Rush began an online series called “Rockport Sunday(s).” Here, he performs songs at his kitchen table and occasionally brings other artists into his living room to perform–with faces both old and new, of course.

Now that he’s back on the road, Rush said he is looking forward to a great show in Parsippany, and said he is “not often enough” in New Jersey.

He does mention quite a few Garden State towns (including Whippany and Rockaway) in a humorous 2018 song called “If I Never Get Back to Hackensack.” He said he has nothing against the Bergen County city — but had a bad experience during a performance there.

“It’s a song that came from a gig early in my career,” he said. “I played this bar in Hackensack. And that’s where I learned that I should not play places where I have to ask them to turn off the mechanical bull while I’m on stage.”

Tickets to the March 22 show At The Tabernacle are $60, and you can purchase them online here.

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