Steve Forbert Is Better Than The Who (Or At Least Needs Your Support More) And You Should Go See Him At Natalie's - by Ricki C.

Steve Forbert will play this coming Wednesday, July 22nd, at Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza, 5601 N. High St. in Worthington (436-2625).  Advance tickets are $20, and are strongly advised. 

Steve Forbert is a singer/songwriter whose first album – Alive On Arrival – was released in 1978 and, in my humble opinion, is one of the twenty best singer/songwriter efforts ever.  (And yes, I am counting Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Richard Thompson, Dave Alvin & Steve Earle – among dozens of others – in that tally.)  Forbert – who will turn 61 in December – scored a modest hit with “Romeo’s Tune” in 1980, which still turns up on oldies radio from time to time, affording him the opportunity to continue touring, but he’s hardly on the level of – to name one – The Who.  He’s a hard-working guy without the benefit of C.S.I. franchise tunes or millions of dollars and English mansions under his belt, like Pete Townshend.

I seriously doubt that Steve Forbert tours have the luxury of legions of guitar techs & lighting designers, catered dinners in the Green Room and merch sales in the thousands every tour stop.  (I see a lot of paunchy 60-year old guys & late middle-aged women with brand-spanking new Who and Rolling Stones 2015 Tour t-shirts lately in my rock & roll travels.)  Hell, I just hope Forbert can afford a roadie to help with the driving.  And I hope they’re stayin’ in Red Roof Inn’s rather than Motel 6’s.

I first heard Alive On Arrival sometime in 1979, whilst nursing a rock & roll broken heart and it was just what the sonic doc ordered.  Forbert was actually coined a “New Dylan” by Rolling Stone at the time.  It’s kind of unbelievable to me that lame-ass rock critics were still using that tired-ass line as late as 1978.  “New Dylan” indeed; my term for those guys (and I never would have included Steve Forbert in their ilk) was “junior league Bruce Springsteens.”  I once characterized both Tom Waits and Warren Zevon – who I later came to appreciate & love – as “junior-league Bruce Springsteens.”  

So what is my point here?  My point is that I have watched the fresh-faced kid crooning out “It Isn’t Gonna Be That Way” in the YouTube video below mature into the nearing-Social-Security-rocker detailed in the second, more recent vintage video.  My point is that maybe just a few of the literally tens of thousands of aging rockers who attended The Rolling Stones at Ohio Stadium could make it over to Natalie’s to see Steve Forbert.  My point is that maybe some iPhone 6/Facebook/Bonaroo kids who have never seen a guy who has been at it for 40 years captivate a room with just an acoustic guitar, a harmonica rack around his neck and a fistful of great, great rock & roll songs, might want to attend a show in the fine, fine, superfine listening room environs of Natalie's Coal Fired Pizza, rather than a football stadium, or a big-ass open field in Tennessee.

(By the way, it wouldn’t break my heart if a few people went to see – to name just two – Marshall Crenshaw at the Lancaster Festival July 31st or Ian Hunter when he opens for the J. Geils Band at the LC in September (much more on that later). (And I don’t think it would kill ya to go see Willie Phoenix sometime for some homemade rock & roll.) 

Steve belts out "The Hit" (for probably the 5000th time or so).