Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tom Rush in Concert

Schooner Wharf Bar was as packed as I've ever seen it on Tuesday night. And that was with a very unusual cover charge imposed (only $5) due to the appearance of Tom Rush "in concert".

We arrived at just before seven pm and found our reserved table in a great spot, in the middle of seating area. Impresario Jeff Salzmann had taken care of everything, and we settled in to have a delicious mahi melt sandwich while listening to Michael McCloud perform in run-up to Rush's star turn. Jeff joined us, and later Joe Forte.

The crowd was, as might be expected, on the whole older than one might find on a usual night. What impressed me most though was the size of it. Every table, every seat at the bar, the upstairs deck were all fully occupied. The upstairs crowd spilled down the stairs by the time Rush appeared at 8 PM, and elsewhere inside it was standing room only. Outside, people gathered both on the boardwalk and on Lazy Way, behind the stage.

Rush began playing and singing. Despite an admonishment from Michael McCloud before the show for the crowd to remain quiet, a murmur of people talking while he was singing detracted a little, more so a flaw in the sound system raised complaints from people at a distance from the stage that they were unable to hear well. The sound system at SWB is finely tuned to focus toward the Bight and to deflect sound from going back toward the FEMA trailer community at Jabour's and to Caroline Street. Rush sings a little back from the mike, unlike most musicians, who tend to almost swallow the mike.

Tom Rush is one of those musical icons of the past who continue to perform regularly some 45 years after coming onto the music scene. It was clear that name recognition among those of a "sufficient age", coupled with some effective advertising, had done their work well. I saw it as proof that events of this type can be held at one of the smaller music venues in town. Others have brought "name" performers here. John Prine and Edgar Winter come to mind in the recent past. But these shows are held in places like the Glynn Archer auditorium at the High School, the Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center, East Martello, Fort Zacahary Taylor, or the San Carlos. Those events also are far pricier, with tickets running between $25 and $50, typically.

I was invited by Jeff to Rush's actual birthday party, held at Pepé's restaurant on Caroline Street, yesterday afternoon. Allan, proprietor of Pepé's once owned the Black Dog Saloon on Nantucket and he's been a friend of Tom's since those days.

We were going to go back for Rush's second show last night but the weather has turned cold, cold enough to have made a night on the waterfront potentially uncomfortable. So we went to IHOP instead, had breakfast for dinner, and went back home to watch a NetFlix movie.

On Tuesday, though, it was a night of musical magic for three hours, two of them by Rush and one by Michael McCloud, a remembrance of times past, and thoroughly entertaining. Jeff was happy, Paul & Evelena were happy, Tom Rush was happy. And so were we.

I just had a report from Rick (Captain Rick). He went last night and saw the show. "Sweet" is what he called it. It was less crowded. The sound had been tweaked. The plastic curtains were up so it wasn't as cold as I feared it was going to be. I wish now we HAD gone. Too late.

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