Meet Vancouver songwriter and performing artist Roy Forbes.
Roy celebrates the release of his latest album Edge of Blue with a concert at the Mel Lehan Hall at St. James Community Square in Vancouver on February 21. A new album is a rare occurrence for the musician and through Edge of Blue‘s ten songs, Roy explores his roots and routes amassed over a nearly fifty-year career. Visit roguefolk.bc.ca for tickets and information.
20 Questions with Roy Forbes
1. Your first job.
Filling shelves at New Deal Grocery in Dawson Creek. Lesson learned? Rotate your stock.
2. The job you always wanted as a child?
The job I’ve had for over fifty years. Writing, recording and playing music.
3. Your pet peeve.
Peanut butter and honey on my fingers.
4. Your hero.
Heroes come and go.
5. Your biggest indulgence.
Vinyl and shellac records. Mostly 45s and 78s but I love 33s as well.
6. One thing no one knows about you.
That’s for me to know…
7. Three things you would want with you on a deserted island.
If we’re talking records, I’d take Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde, the Band’s Music From Big Pink and the Miles Davis Kind Of Blue LP.
8. The one word your best friend would use to describe you.
Roy! In italics.
9. If they made a movie about your life, who would it star?
Oh, what the heck. How about Peter Falk. After all, Columbo always knew more than he was letting on…
10. Hero or villain?
A bit of both. In other words, a normal guy.
11. Your life’s motto/mantra.
Start from now.
12. The song getting the most play on your Spotify playlist right now.
Things Have Changed by Bettye LaVette. Her entire album of Dylan interpretations is colossal.
13. The last book you read.
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem.
14. If you were a cartoon character, what cartoon character would you be, and why?
I’ll be darned if I know.
15. What will it say on your grave marker?
Here lies Lydia’s boyfriend.
16. Who would you most like to have dinner with?
My dad, who passed when I was three.
17. Your idea of happiness.
A fiddle solo by the jazz violinist, Stuff Smith. Joy oozes from every note.
18. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your twenty-year-old self?
Start from now.
19. The one thing in your life that makes you most proud.
My child, Riley, a proud trans man.
20. To be or not to be?
As Paul said, “Let it be”.
About Roy Forbes
Roy Forbes is one of Canada’s best known and best-loved songwriters and performing artists. He’s been at it for almost fifty years and has picked up some tokens of appreciation from his peers. There is a street named after him in his hometown of Dawson Creek in Northern B.C. and a star on Vancouver’s Granville Street where the names of the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame members are enshrined.
Mainly, and more importantly, Roy is firmly etched in the minds of thousands, tens of thousands in fact, of music lovers across the country. Some remember a skinny kid who went under the name of Bim, others the more mature man who reclaimed his ‘real’ name. Some got to know him at festivals from Faro in the Yukon to Ottawa as Roy trod the boards from the seventies to a stellar performance at the fortieth-anniversary edition of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. For others, it was at a myriad of folk clubs and concert stages. For still others, it was Roy as a member of a contemporary folk supergroup- UHF- where he joined forces with Shari Ulrich and Bill Henderson. For some, it was Roy’s searing rendition of Hank Williams’ So Lonesome I Could Cry, for others his sweet treat Christmas anthem- Mince Meat Tart, or Tender Lullaby, while others heard him second hand through Shawn Colvin’s cover of Talk Around Town. Roy has made his mark for generations of listeners as a solo, bandleader, ensemble member, interpreter and songwriter. This is not to mention his work as a record producer, radio host at CBC Radio & CKUA, and popular music historian of 78 RPM records. Over the last five decades, Roy has had a few brushes with fame and endured, becoming an organic part of Canadian music.
The last few years have been a challenge. Afflicted with poor vision all his life, Roy was blinded by an accident in 2015. He may have lost his sight but not his vision. Roy has adapted to his new reality, returning to touring and performing and recording and all the other things he does so well. He is now among the blind seers who populate history from Homer, who gave us the Odyssey, to Blind Willie Johnson and Roland Kirk, Ray Charles and Doc Watson and others who gave us some of the world’s best music. Now Roy is serving up his latest album Edge of Blue, something like his 11th solo effort.