Tom Rush endures. Occasionally he records and, more occasionally, he appears at the Cellar Door. In the 15 years since Billboard named him Most Promising New Male Folk Singer, Rush has ambled along just behind the promise.
He is basically a balladeer, a comfortable presence for the dozen songs that have become very much his territory -- "Ladies Love Outlaws," "Urge for Going," "No Regrets," "Makin' the Best of a Bad Situation," and a hilarious talking blues version of "Duncan and Brady."
New songs appear periodically. Too frequently they are in the lethargic and sluggist vein from which Rush has mined so much of his material. His voice -- smooth as bourbon and cumulatively as numbing -- has too little range and dynamics to support much else.
On this visit, Rush is aided by David Buskin on keyboards and vibes and Robin Batteau on violin and mandolin. Both are fine songwriters; using them sparingly for color is waste of substantial talent.
Comedienne Nancy Parker opened last night's show with a zesty combination of monologues, impressions and daft bits, best of which was a frenetic recreation of Dorothy's entrance to Oz -- munchkins, witch and all. The lady is a laugh and a half.
Tom Rush will be at the Cellar Door tonight, tomorrow and Sunday.