Tom cats

From left: David Bromberg, Emmylou Harris, and Tom Rush performing at Symphony Hall in 1983.
From left: David Bromberg, Emmylou Harris, and Tom Rush performing at Symphony Hall in 1983.

Tom Rush’s original run of Symphony Hall shows in the early 1980s became legendary, and PBS broadcast one nationally. We recently asked some of the artists who are on the lineup for his Dec. 28 show – plus Betsy Siggins, one of Rush’s old friends from the Club 47 days – to recall a favorite memory from those nights.

NANCI GRIFFITH: “I remember me and Emmylou and Shawn Colvin, and a couple of other people I’m leaving out, having such an extraordinary moment when we were all onstage, all at the same microphone. Everybody was just singing their hearts out on ‘Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm.’ That song never would have been heard if not for Tom.”

DAVID BUSKIN: “I’ll always remember when Tom got Stevie Goodman to come, I think maybe the first or second year. It was toward the end of Steve’s life. When we did ‘City of New Orleans,’ which Steve wrote, he made it very clear that the changes Arlo [Guthrie] made on ‘I’ll be gone 500 miles when the day is done’ were not the exact chords and melody the writer had written. I also got the chance to play piano for Jennifer Warnes when she did ‘Song of Bernadette,’ which she co-wrote with Leonard Cohen. It was an amazingly beautiful song, and I was thrilled to get to play piano on it.”


ROBIN BATTEAU: “My favorite part about it was that it was so much. We played for hours. Because David [Buskin] and I like to back people up as much as we like to be frontmen, we just had more fun than anybody. All night long we were backing people like Bonnie Raitt and Joan Baez. To be the house band on something like that was just heaven.”

BETSY SIGGINS: “The one I recall most was the one with a great cluster of the old-timers from Club 47 — who weren’t old-timers yet back in the ’80s — and how much fun we had. I learned about younger artists through those Symphony Hall shows. It was a nice combination of people I already knew and people that Tom introduced us to.”

James Reed can be reached at