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Published: 2011/01/17
by Vernon Webb

Steve Forbert, Mexicali Live, Teaneck, NJ – 1/14

Steve Forbert, an American pop music singer-songwriter best known for his song “Romeo’s Tune,” from his album Jackrabbit Slim which hit number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980. Hailed by the critics at the time as the “new Bob Dylan,” his songwriting is thoughtful and soulful. Although his fame has subsequently waned, Forbert has continuously made music throughout the years.

Nothing fancy here just a mike, a stand, a small piece of microphoned wood upon which he stood and stomped out his rhythm and what appeared to be the very same well-worn acoustic Martin guitar that’s graced the cover of many of his albums. He did not disappoint the small crowd that gathered there to see him, maybe a hundred in all.

After opening the evening with a couple of crowd pleasers, Thinkin’ and Goin’ Down to Laurel and promptly announced that he would be taking requests and he actually played most of them. The apparently loyal middle age following actually sang harmonies (good too) and seemed to love the intimate setting that Mexicali Live in Teaneck, NJ offered as they interacted with him. One group of people handed him a note, which he took and tried to read and quickly handed off side stage for someone else to read, stated that they had come all the way from Italy to see him and his response was to play, “Tonight I Feel So Far From Home,” and then subsequently stated that the note had worked.

You could tell that Steve Forbert loves and feels what he does which was evident through his soulfully played harmonica and guitar work. In fact that passion shined through very clearly as he sang “All I need to do is to find somebody like you / All I need to change is just the seven letters of your name / M-a-r-i-s-s-a” (which he joked was about his latest heartbreak and was no longer about his ex-wife “Jessica”) with a tear in his eye. In fact he promptly stated, “That’s the saddest version yet. I think I’m not going to sing it anymore.”

I must admit, I was a bit surprise, this being my first Steve Forbert show, that no one was calling out Romeo’s Tune, the one song I wanted to hear, but as the evening neared a close and much to everyone’s approval (evident by the standing ovation) he launched into “A Change is Gonna Come” segued into “Romeo’s Tune.” After a brief exit he returns for another segue encore of “Strawberry Fields Forever”/“You Cannot Win If You Do Not Play.” After the lights came on Mr. Forbert sold autographed copies of his CDs and shook the hands of some very grateful fans. I for one was pleased to have seen one of my teenage idols and for sure would love to see him again and may do so at his upcoming gig at the City Winery, in New York City.

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