Steve Forbert is an American pop/folk singer-songwriter. His 1979 song "Romeo's Tune" reached No. 11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 13 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It also spent two weeks at No. 8 in Canada. Forbert's first four albums all charted on the Billboard 200 chart, with Jackrabbit Slim certified gold. Forbert has released twenty studio and three live albums.
Forbert's songs have been recorded by several artists, including Rosanne Cash, Keith Urban, Marty Stuart and Webb Wilder. In 2017, a tribute album, An American Troubadour: The Songs of Steve Forbert, was released, with covers of his songs by twenty-one artists. Bob Harris of BBC Radio 2 said Forbert has "One of the most distinctive voices anywhere."
In September 2018, he released his self-penned memoir, Big City Cat: My Life in Folk Rock, with editor Therese Boyd. It accompanied the release of his 19th studio album The Magic Tree on Blue Rose Music.
Forbert was born in Meridian, Mississippi. At 17, he started writing songs, and soon moved to New York City in 1976, to experience the punk rock scene of the 1970s. There he performed on the street to passersby in Greenwich Village, and had early shows as a singer with a guitar and harmonica at punk club CBGB before moving on to folk venues Kenny's Castaways and Folk City.
Forbert signed a recording contract with Nemperor in 1978, and they released his debut album Alive on Arrival that year. While some, like Village Voice, called him "the new Dylan,” of any comparison to Bob Dylan, he said, "You can't pay any attention to that. It was just a cliché back then, and it's nothing I take seriously. I'm off the hook – I don't have to be smarter than everybody else and know all the answers like Bob Dylan."
By 1985, Forbert sought out new inspiration and relocated to Nashville. His tribute album to Jimmie Rodgers, Any Old Time, was nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Folk category. In 2006, he was inducted into the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame, and in 2007, Keith Urban covered his hit "Romeo's Tune." The same year, Forbert's music was featured in the film Margot at the Wedding starring Nicole Kidman.
In 2012, he joined Blue Corn Music, and they released Over With You, produced by Chris Goldsmith (the Blind Boys of Alabama), that same year. Musical backing on the record included Ben Sollee on cello and bass, with Ben Harper guesting on guitar on several tracks. American Songwriter stated "it's all lovely, melancholy, lyrically moving and beautifully performed" and "Like Warren Zevon, Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen, Steve Forbert has left his unmistakable imprint on the landscape of American music.”
In 2013, Blue Corn Music re-released Forbert's first two albums, Alive on Arrival and its gold-certified follow-up Jackrabbit Slim. That year marked the 35th anniversary of the release of Alive on Arrival, and Forbert played that album in its entirety at a number of shows. Alive on Arrival was profiled as one of the greatest debut albums ever in the book Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself.
I would be remiss to not share a personal note about how excited I am to have Steve at The Argyle. When Dylan and I first got involved in taking over the theater, one of the first things I thought of was someday having Steve Forbert on our stage. He has been one of the most important artists in my musical history and I’m so thrilled to have finally made this happen. Steve has no idea how important he has been to me. But having Steve Forbert on our stage is a dream come true for me.
I have been following and listening to Steve since the late 70’s. I have attended more of his concerts than I can remember, starting in the old My Father’s Place in Roslyn, and The Bottom Line in Greenwich Village, where so many creative and talented young up-and-coming artists got their starts. I have 21 of his CDs and I rotate listening to them regularly. And I actually listen to the full album as opposed to a song here or there. Steve’s songs resonate for me - from the early albums of youth, love, despair, and risk to songs of hope and dreams, regret and responsibility, aging, loss, and resiliency. Steve is an astute observer and caretaker of the environment; he sings of real life and relationships, and recognizes we’re all works in progress. He has a magical way of using words, along with the application of his energetic and unique voice, guitar and harmonica. Most of my albums have Steve’s autograph, because I’ve purchased so many after his concerts. You’ll have a chance to do that after this concert at The Argyle as well, as Steve will avail himself to meet and greet his fans. I hope to see you at the theatre on Oct 27 where you can enjoy Steve and his new band - The New Renditions.
Managing Partner, The Argyle Theatre