March 14, 2018–Guy Forsyth gave an unexpected response when asked what inspired his on-stage performance style.
“Vaudeville,” he replied during our phone conversation. “If you look back, a lot of our favorite musicians were folks hitting their stride in the 1930s and 40s. Those people understood the showbiz aspect of music. Not that they weren’t excellent musicians. But they also understood that you had to put on a show!”
That’s what Forsyth does. From growling out the blues to bowing Somewhere Over The Rainbow on the musical saw, his live show keeps serving up the unexpected.
Forsyth, who will appear with his band for a one-night performance at Fredericksburg Community Theater this Saturday, stands apart form the typical singer/songwriter busking on the corner. He puts on a show.
It’s no accident. His bio includes performing at Renaissance fairs, hanging around Kansas City blues joints, and headlining at all the quintessential Austin clubs. He has toured with such legends as BB King and Ray Charles, formed the bands Asylum Street Spankers and The Hot Nut Riveters, and was named Austin Male Vocalist of the Year. It all fits.
“I like theater. I like shows. I like storytelling,” he explained. “As a performer, you are leaving money on the table if you don’t take the opportunity to tell a good story with your music. It’s fun to take people on a trip.”
For Forsyth, music is theater.
“If you are good story teller, you don’t need a guitar to be entertaining,” he said. “Watching a Guy Clark or a Ray Wylie Hubbard, you could edit out the songs and it would still be a good show.”
Like a good writer, a good musician respects the audience’s time and intelligence. Forsyth never takes anything for granted.
“If people sit there and give you their attention, you better do something with it,” he said. “That does not mean flashpots and costumes–those can get hackneyed fast. You still have to have some substance behind all of it. I hope always to bring something of value.”
While most musicians I’ve interviewed over the years claim to play all kinds of genres, Forsyth is one of the few that really does. He tells audiences to expect blues and Americana and elements of folk and country.
“I like lots of different types of music,” he said. “I got to the point where I decided I didn’t want to have to choose. When I write, it is all from the river of American music, with lots of different colors and lots of different shades.”
He creates and performs on an equally impressive menu of instruments–harmonica, resonator guitar, mandolin, ukulele, electric guitar, and, of course, the saw.
“It’s nice to be able to paint with a lot of different colors. You let the instrument be the sets and costumes to play the stories that the songs are.”
Forsyth’s introduction for his Unrepentant Americana Schizophrenic CD captures the covenant between singer and audience.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” he recites as the band does final sound checks in the background. “So glad to see you all here as we gather one more time… going out at night in the dark… to this strange, not quite clean, room… to be shoulder to shoulder with strangers… as we worship the mystery.”
His FTC show includes his wife, Jeska, who spent childhood summers staying with family in Fredericksburg. And for anyone still undecided whether to get a ticket to this performance, Forsyth makes a promise:
“This show has to be good,” he said, adding, “My mom is coming.”
Guy Forsyth and his band will perform one night only on Saturday, March 17, at the Steve W. Shepherd Theater, 1668 Hwy 87 South, Fredericksburg, TX. Admission is $29 for adults, $17 for children 17 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at www.fredericksburgtheater.org or by calling the box office at 888-669-7114.