Thursday, December 08, 2011
Kin To American Music
“Now boarding on Platform 27, the Empire Builder…”
Finding singers and performers playing with great heart and talent is more and more common in Pittsburgh these days, with is vibrant music scene. But none are like singer-songwriter Slim Forsythe, and many of those in the country-bluegrass-rockabilly world in Western Pennsylvania and beyond know it, because they have played with Slim. Some of those folks are in a new release he will be performing with the Beagle Brothers and others at the Lawrenceville Moose at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Slim’s new CD, Slim Forsythe & Friends, Down On My Knees At Nied’s Hotel Again, is a musical journey, taking us via railroad all the way back to the originators of the genre including Stephen Collins Foster, who lived and is buried in Lawrenceville. In addition to The Beagle Brothers, the CD includes collaborations with The Stillhouse Pickers, The Nied’s Hotel Band, The Turbosonics, Elliot Sussman, Stu Braun, The Parklane Drifters, Russel Oblinger, Sr., and the New Payday Loners, Slim's current band.
With drinking songs like Why Can’t I get Duquesne On This Sad Lonesome Train, and songs that give the sound of the wide open road, like Empire Builder, Forsythe is a regular mountain Shaughnessy. Cracking jokes and telling stories as he strums happy tunes and others played from a once-broken heart, like Down On My Knees At Nied’s Hotel Again, Slim takes us back to our shared regional and national heritage, connecting us to the mountains that surround us and the rich American musical legacy of Western Pennsylvania and the great old USA. Chugging back to the originators of the genre like Foster, Father of American Music, Slim gives tribute through his lovely rendering of Gentle Annie, which includes sweet short riffs on different Foster tunes—Beautiful Dreamer, whistled by Slim, then Old Kentucky Home plucked on guitar, followed by Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair on piano, and a few bars from Oh Susanah on banjo.
Allegheny Mountain Queen also is a gorgeous tune, but Gentle Annie, played so deftly and sung so movingly by Mr. Forsythe, will make you think again about Slim, Pittsburgh, American music, and much more. Slim carries us down worn graveyard paths to tombstones, and tells us stories of wildcatters, strawberry blonde mountain beauties, passed away pets, long-gone loved ones, and folk heroes new and old, tying his life (and our own lives), to that long track of memory that is the American Experience.