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Steve Forbert hits his stride with Jimmie Rodgers

Johnny D's., Somerville, Mass., Nov. 14, 2002

By Jeffrey B. Remz

SOMERVILLE, MA - Veteran singer/songwriter Steve Forbert went back to his Mississippi roots for his latest.

More specifically Meridian, Miss., where he was born. And that happens to be the hometown of Jimmie Rodgers, the SIngging Brakeman, otherwise also considered the father of country music.

The result is a strong new album, "Any Old Time," released in October on Koch. With this collecton of a dozen songs, Forbert explores country music far more than he has in the past and brought it thes tawge as well for a show that drew the crowd in more and more as it went along.

Forbert does not own the world's prettiest voice. It's a raspy instrument, a bit limited in range, but it grows on the listener over time as it did during is generous 1 3/4-hour show before about 100 fans.

With acoustic guitar in hand and occasionally harmonica, Forbert delved into "Any Old Time," the album of Rodgers songs, although he did not overly rely on it (he played about half of it) - in fact, me would have been better too.

The music of Rodgers ventured between blues and country, and Forbert was faithful to the hometown guy. And while the songs are a good six decades old, Forbert certainly made them come alive, never sounding dated.

After a slower opening segment, Forbert picked up some speed and energy as the show progressed, perhaps feeding off the genial crowd. Once Forbert hit a groove, maybe a third of the way through with Bill Halley's "Miss the Mississippi and You" from "Any Old Time," Forbert really hit his stride, sounding in better voice and tending to play more uptempo songs.

Forbet may never achieve the success he had earlier with "Romeo's Tune," which he did in fine style in closing the regular set, but he is clearly capable of exploring music's roots and coming up with a winner.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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