Folk-roots juke box Roy Forbes returns for Sunday's rare solo show

Roy Forbes - Susannah Forbes
Roy Forbes
— image credit: Susannah Forbes

The musician formerly known as Bim returns to Duncan for Sunday's rare solo show.

Roy Forbes plans to pull numbers from the raft of recordings he's built since leaving his native Dawson Creek, B.C.

"I left school in July '71 and have always made my living from music from that day forth," he said from home in North Vancouver.

Forbes changed his name from Bim years ago, but doesn't mind if folks use his old stage title.

"It it was an evolutionary thing. Bim was a nickname I had as a kid, and with my rock band, The Crystal Ship.

"When I came to Vancouver (1971) it was a natural to use it, but as the '70s progressed my friends called me Roy," he said, noting his disc Bim A.K.A. Roy Forbes.

"In '87, when I did my album Love Turns To Ice, (promoter) Gary Cristall asked me, 'Will you do it (drop Bim) for this album', and I did."

Forbes, who turns 60 Feb.13, opened his encyclopedic memory bank about making folk-roots music with famous players, plus unsung heroes.

Early dates heard him in coffee houses, plus opening for stars John Lee Hooker, Supertramp, The Earl Scruggs Revue, and Santana.

Forbes eventually sold out his own shows, headlined most major Canadian folk festivals, and morphed in to a beloved acoustic performer.

"When the bean counters lost control for awhile, it was a wonderful time in music."

Fame gained Forbes several Juno Award nods: Kid Full Of Dreams earned a 1976 Juno nomination; 1998's Crazy Old Moon launched a 1999 Juno nomination, plus a 1999 West Coast Music Award, one of several Forbes has received.

Forbes also made two albums with UHF — the 'once-in-a-while' group he shares with Shari Ulrich and Bill Henderson — plus a Christmas CD with Connie Kaldor.

Folks who've recorded Forbes' songs span Susan Jacks, Sylvia Tyson, Matt Minglewood, Valdy and Ulrich — and more recently, Shawn Colvin, Hart Rouge, Tracey Brown, Cindy Church, Laurie Lewis, Kathy Kallick, Suzie Vinnick and Norman Foote.

"I feel flattered and gratified; when they make room in their show for one of songs, it's huge," he said, citing Right After My Heart done by Sylvia Tyson, "someone I consider royalty."

Record-collector Forbes — a producer hosting CBC Radio's Snap, Crackle, Pop, plus CKUA's Roy's Record Room — stop counting songs he's penned.

"Like most of us, except maybe Bruce Springsteen, the writing is slower now than in my '20s.

"But when one comes along, it's usually a good one and you gotta leap on it for sure. It could be a verse, or a snatch of a melody," he said, now using an iPhone to grab fresh reminder riffs.

"But in the old days I had to remember Dream On Down The Road; I wrote it  completely in my head. I've always been able to hear a record in my head."

Forbes' touring has also dropped to two-dozen gigs a year.

One thrilling outing for the jazz-blues-rock 'n' roll rounder heard Forbes play a Vancouver Folk Festival workshop with the Sun Records' rhythm section, including Elvis' drummer, D.J. Fontana.

"We did Hound Dog and he played it. That took me back to when I was three years old."

With a live compilation platter on deck, Forbes advised young players to learn their craft by "looking at who laid the stones for the road you're walking down."

"A tree without roots will never stand. There's so much to learn from those who've come before you; look beyond your own genre," he said, proud of his progress.

"Holy cow, what a life I've had — and continue to have."

Your ticket

What: Roy Forbes

When: Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Duncan Garage Showroom

Tickets: $30, $25 advance at 250-748-7246


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