Friday, January 9, 2009

With a new album due this Spring, the old “new Dylan” plays the Iron Horse on Sunday January 18th at 7PM

In his song about the late late ‘70s singer/songwriter boom called "Talking New Bob Dylan," Loudon Wainwright III sings: "I got a deal and so did John Prine, Steve Forbert and Springsteen all in a line/They were lookin’ for you, signing up others/We were ‘new Bob Dylans’…"

Forbert was coming out of Greenwich Village, playing harmonica on a rack and acoustic guitar, and his songs were personal but the Dylan comparison was lazy. Forbert has lived in Nashville since 1985. But nine years earlier, when he was just 21, he left his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, and rode the train to New York City.

"I didn’t want to go to California," he said. "There was a lot happening in New York. It was very exciting at that time—all the CBGB stuff was happening and the Village folk scene was still happening. And if you found out that you couldn’t get into any of those places, you could sing in the street and see how things went.

"I wound up in the East Village pretty quickly. It was a lot of fun for me. In Meridian, you didn’t have a lot of people doing original music; it was just the typical bar scene with people playing Bad Company and Led Zeppelin. New York City was like a dream-come-true. There were kids from all over the country doing original material, listening to each other, learning what to do and what not to do, hopefully. I loved it."

His songs caught record company ears in fairly short order.

"It took a year and a half," he said. "Traditionally in rock-n-roll and pop music, you have your time between the ages of 20 and 25 where you get started or you don’t. There are exceptions, but that’s the general rule and it’s still true today, except it starts a little younger now."

His debut, Alive on Arrival, came out in 1978 but it was his second album, Jackrabbit Slim, that became his best seller, produced by the legendary John Simon and featuring Forbert’s one hit single, "Romeo’s Tune." He spent much of the ’80s without a recording contract. Since the early ’90s, however, he’s put out a series of fine albums, both studio and live.

His last CD, Strange Names and New Sensations, came out in 2007. Where his first album was a celebration of adolescence and the possibilities of adulthood, this one looked at life from the vantage point of a 50-year-old and included a striking new version of "Romeo’s Tune" and a blazing anti-war rocker called "The Baghdad Dream" that names names and points fingers. Nonetheless, there remains an upbeat sense of fun and good times in Steve Forbert’s music. As for the new stuff, we’ll leave it to Steve to tell you about that next Sunday.

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