Rush is a Band

A blog devoted to RUSH:
Neil Peart, Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson

Tue, Jun 6, 2023

Updates and other random Rush stuff

Fri, Jul 17, 2020@11:15AM | comments

UPDATE - 7/20@3:44PM: Last week I took part in an Ultimate Classic Rock roundtable discussion on whether Rush was better in the '70s or in the '80s. The piece went live Saturday afternoon and you can check it out here.

Alex Lifeson was the guest on the most recent episode of Paul Reed Smith's new YouTube series Long Distance: Paul Calls...?. Alex spoke with Paul for about 14 minutes about what he's been up to during the pandemic, their hobbies outside music, and more. At around the 8:20 mark of the interview, Alex mentions having worked with musician Stephen Bennett on some new music recently. A couple of weeks ago, Bennett put up a Facebook post with some details about what he's been working on, including Alex Lifeson's involvement (thanks RushFanForever):

... Songs just started flowing early this year. Obviously the melody to Sing A Song Of Mike Pence already existed (as Sing A Song Of Six Pence). And I had a co-lyricist on The Lyin' King but other than that, I wrote all the songs that have been posted so far, as well as the ones yet to be posted (with one exception where again I utilized a preexisting melody called Sarasponda). I played guitars and bass on everything. Where you hear banjo, that's me. Speaking of which, I love the rhythm section on The Lyin' King -- banjo, bass and drums -- what a cool mix! I sang 3 of the songs thus far and harmonies on a 4th. My friend Alex Lifeson (yes that Alex Lifeson, from Rush) played the very cool solo on A Very Stable Genius, as well as that stuff in the background of that same song that sounds like he's conjuring up a hurricane. He also added some beautiful parts to The Lyin' King. You're in luck: Alex will be back again with some more great guitar playing on the next song to be posted, later this week, called The Lafayette Square Blues. A very excellent drummer named Mark Kelso played on the songs where you hear drums and has done so again for The LS Blues. Rather than name here the other individuals who have helped me with this project in various ways, I'll let them identify themselves as and when they wish. ...

All the tracks mentioned are now available for listening on Bennett's YouTube channel - Karma Covfefe (A Very Stable Genius, Lafayette Square Blues, The Lyin' King).

Modern Drummer Neil Peart tribute issue signed by Betty and Glen PeartNeil Peart's family is currently sponsoring a charity auction via Bidding Owl that's been running since July 1st in support of the RVH Foundation. Peart's sister Nancy Burkholder was recently interviewed for CTV to talk about her brother and the auction:

... "His favourite saying was 'what's the most excellent thing I can do today,' and I thought 'hmm, I think we should raise money in his honour," said the Muskoka woman. Burkholder immediately though of the Regional Cancer Centre at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie. The family had planned on a memorial concert, but it was put on hold because of COVID-19. Burkholder has instead asked her brother's admirers and collaborators to donate items for an auction. While staff at RVH don't know how much money the auction will raise, they have big plans to improve and expand radiation treatments. For Burkholder, the last few months without her brother have been rough, but she's found comfort in hearing stories from his fans and seeing their adoration in donations. "I have to say this is one thing that is keeping us going, and the support is just phenomenal," she admitted. "It surprises us every day." The auction to benefit the RVH cancer centre will continue for at least the rest of the summer, possibly longer if fans continue to dig up Neil Peart keepsakes.

Even if you aren't interested in any of the auction items, I encourage everyone to make a donation to the Neil Peart Memorial Fund if able.

Speaking of Neil, former Max Webster frontman Kim Mitchell will be releasing his new solo album The Big Fantasize later this year - his first since 2007's Ain't Life Amazing. He recently chatted with Music Life Magazine for a new interview to discuss the album, among other subjects (thanks RushFanForever). The interview concludes with Mitchell talking about the untimely passing of his friend Neil Peart earlier this year:

... "I knew he was sick. I had other people around me also die of neuroblastoma [a form of brain cancer] and I heard about Neil about a year before he was gone. Of course, you're sad. I have memories that, whenever his name comes up, whenever he gets mentioned these days, Jim I have vivid images come up in my head and they're wonderful images - they're fantastic," he said. "When we were on tour, and Max Webster was opening for Rush all across North America this one time, and whether it was, Butte, Montana, or Cleveland or wherever, Neil would play our set with us, behind his drums. His drums were scrimmed, meaning there's a big black curtain in front so people couldn't see Rush's set up or his kit, and he would come out and we would hear him every night playing with us. His microphones were turned off so the audience couldn't hear him, but that's how he warmed up. That was sort of a cool thing that I now really like sharing that whenever Max Webster was on stage opening a Rush show, Neil was playing our set, nine out of 10 times, warming up. And of course, he asked us if he could do that." ...

John of the website was the most recent guest on the Something for Nothing Rush Fancast podcast this past week and the episode is now available for listening online. John spoke with hosts Steve and Gerry about the origins of his website, how he became a Rush fan, the best Rush album closing songs, and more. In case you missed it, I was also a recent guest on the podcast last month, and you can listen to that episode here.

Speaking of Rush podcasts, a brand new Rush podcast called Two Guys Talking Rush premiered this past week and the first episode is now online. In the premiere episode, hosts John Kane and Dan Bukszpan speak with Rush discoverer and unofficial big sister Donna Halper. You can listen to the episode online here, and be sure to follow the podcast on Twitter and Facebook.

Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell was recently interviewed by The Globe and Mail to talk about his new book Utopia Avenue, and he brings up Rush at one point (thanks RushFanForever):

... "I have been haunted by music all my life," ... "Who isn't? 'The man who didn't like music' - that would be a more interesting starting point than: Oh yeah, I like music." "Since you're in Toronto: Rush. In my case, the way that Rush and other bands would project a possible future version of myself. Rush, in particular, because of Neil Peart, the lyricist - they made high-level vocabulary okay. They made it all right to want to make sense of a line," like this one from "The Spirit of Radio": "'One likes to believe in the freedom of music.' One. One! Like, actually using the pronoun "one"? Guys, you're a rock band! But they sang it, and it's a killer song! It's brilliant!" He continues, quoting the lyrics: "'One likes to believe in the freedom of music / But glittering prizes / And endless compromises / shatter the illusion of integrity.' I mean, that's where I learned the word integrity. From a Rush song!" He catches himself, resets. "Sorry, I won't Rush-geek on you too much." ...

Megadeth bassist David Ellefson was recently interviewed for Metal Rules to talk about Megadeth's long-awaited follow-up to 2016's Dystopia, which is due out next year. When talking about the contributions of new drummer Dirk Verbeuren on the album, he mentions Rush:

... "I remember when I was a kid and heard [Rush's] Geddy Lee and Neil Peart play something inhumanly impossible - I had that same feeling now on our record with Dirk Verbeuren. It lit me up. I was, like, 'Holy shit! This is a moment that I have never felt or experienced until now.' ...

Back in Febrary author and Rush fan Alexander Hellene was inspired by Neil Peart's untimely passing to write his first non-fiction book; a book centered on Rush fans with a working title of Dreamers and Misfits, for which I'll be writing the foreword. The author has finished the book and plans to self-publish, so he has kicked off an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds to cover editing, formatting, and cover art. He's just over half way to his goal, so go help out if you are able, and check out his video message about the book as well.

In a recent social media post, drummer Mike Portnoy posted his list of ten drummers that changed his life, which - of course - includes Rush's Neil Peart. You can check out his full list online here. Portnoy also recently teamed up with bassist Stu Hamm, guitarist Paulie Z and keyboardist Walter Ino to record a cover version of the Rush's YYZ, filmed while they were in quarantine. The clip was premiered this past Tuesday as part of the David Z Foundation's third annual fundraising campaign, and you can watch it on YouTube here (thanks John at

Kerrang! magazine posted their list of the 10 Greatest Concert Intro Tapes earlier this week and Rush's Three Stooges Theme intro music gets mentioned:

Canadian prog kings Rush - who despite their epic songs about solar federations, free will and Tom Sawyer - always kicked off their concerts with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks. For their tours, from 1982's Signals to 1987's Hold Your Fire and 2002's Vapor Trails, the band used a reimagined version of The Three Stooges theme. "It's not the original theme because they won't let you use that," frontman Geddy Lee told The Citizen's Voice in 1987. "So I hired my friend, violinist Ben Mink, who's a musician extraordinaire and a very big Three Stooges fan, and we had him recreate the original version. The three hellos you hear at the beginning are the three of us talking to him on the phone."

The Toronto Sun posted an article this past week on the 35th anniversary of the 1985 coming together of US and Canadian musicians to record the two songs We Are The World and Tears Are Not Enough to raise money for famine relief (thanks RushFanForever). Geddy Lee was one of the Canadian artists involved in the recording of Tears Are Not Enough and the article includes this quote from Geddy:

... It was an amazing bit of cooperation and coming together for charity. As Geddy Lee said at the time, "It's 50 lead singers pretending they're a chorus." ...

MixDown magazine posted a list of 13 iconic tracks played in crazy time signatures this past week and Rush's Tom Sawyer made the cut:

Being one of the most famous progressive rock groups of all time, Rush have written their fair share of confusing, flashy tunes. However, their signature song 'Tom Sawyer' stands out as being a notable example in their discography, featuring an epic bridge written in the meter of 7/8 and made special by the exceptional groove and technique of the late great Neil Peart. Regardless of your thoughts on Rush, you simply can't deny the brilliance of his performance on this track.

On a sad note, long-running Toronto music club the Orbit Room, which was co-founded by Alex Lifeson and Tim Notter back in 1994, is closing its doors for good after initially shutting down due to COVID-19 in March (Alex actually gave up his interest in the club last year). The venue was a must-see stop for any Rush fan visiting Toronto, and played host to several RushCon parties and gatherings over the years. Alex himself would often show up and sit in with the band as seen in this post covering the venue's 16th anniversary party back in 2010. Here's video of Alex sitting in on Tom Sawyer from that party:

That's all for this week. Have a great weekend!