Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Guy Forsyth @ IOTA

It is always valuable to search for live music during each day of the week, because there's no telling when a gem will arrive on a slow night. That happened this past Monday night, July 13th, when The Guy Forsyth Trio came to Arlington and the IOTA Club. The band planned a stop on their journey from New York to Austin - where they just completed their latest tour - and why not D.C. This was one show that wasn't going to be missed.

Guy Forsyth first appeared on our radar at the 2004 Austin City Limits where he performed a spectacular rendition of Bo Diddley's "Mona". After hearing this song and an encore of his popular, I fancied him as a Bluesman. This belief was reinforced when I purchased the hard to find Steak, and listened to a collection of original and famous blues songs, including "Mona". Forsyth has a classic blues voice - actually closer to a Ray Charles - plus he's a master on the harp and slide guitar. This CD consisted of contemporary Chicago blues in "Makin, Money", classic Chicago blues in "Tricks of the Trade", Delta blues in "Poor Boy" and of course New Orleans blues. I was introduced to the eerie sound of the singing saw in "Thibodaux Furlough". My favorite was the Cajun inspired "Lovin' Dangerously". Even when I discovered his 1999 CD, Can You Live Without, I thought Forsyth was strictly a blues man. Period.

But later I learned that this statement is far from accurate. In fact, Forsyth is a music historian, weaving aspects of forgotten sounds into his repertoire. Blues is just a small fraction of his portfolio. It started when he helped launch The Asylum Street Spankers and the band specialized in what they termed "Tin Pan Alley" songs. Mixing in country, blues, jazz, and swing, these songs have a distinct flavor - either 20's jazz, early blues, folk, cowboy country - basically music that is not played nowadays.

Forsyth continues this tradition and several of us experienced it firsthand that evening at the IOTA Club. The Guy Forsyth Trio (Will Landin (bass/tuba) and Rob Hooper (drums/Cajon)) started with an a Capella general domain gospel number - showcasing his bluesy voice and harmonica skills. They followed with more blues, with Forsyth on the harmonica - but soon he swtiched to the guitar with "Lovin' Dangerously". What a fun song. They continued with songs from Calico Girl including "Can You Live Without" and "Children of Jack". The various talents of the band were displayed as Landin brought out the Tuba and Forsyth unleashed the saw. He even unleashed a children's song in "Leadfoot Larry" after paying tribute to his daughter in "Mary Mae". Throughout the night the music alternated between blues, swing, jazz, and good ol' Americana. And by request they finished with a jamming rendition of "Mona". What a show - Austin is a lucky town that Forysth moved there from Kansas City. We are not sure when he will pass through D.C. again, but if he ever plays at Knuckleheads, we will be there.

No comments: