When it comes to music, I can only write in first person. I have to tell you what the music does TO ME.
Guy Forsyth is one of the Austin artists that speaks TO ME and creates an excitement in his performances that impresses me as a critic and propels me as a music fan. Guy received the Best Male Vocals award at the Austin Music Awards on February 28, 2018 at their annual ceremony. It wasn’t his first Austin Music Award. In the past he’s won for his skills playing the saw (yes, a saw from the hardware store), for his blues band, and once before for vocals.
Full disclosure, my husband is Guy’s drummer in his blues band. We were both immediately enamored over 20 years ago when we got the CD Needlegun as a prize from a Dallas radio station. Mark (my husband) had heard of Guy Forsyth, but didn’t know his music, and I knew nothing. We both flipped from the energy and pure soul pouring from the speakers. I remember driving home from my job after midnight with the CD just blasting through my car into the night.
Somehow, we heard that Guy Forsyth played a regular Sunday night gig at Antone’s blues club. This was before the days where we might have looked at his website or Googled it. We decided that would be a great adventure to take a trip to Austin in the spring.
When Guy Forsyth’s show begins at 9 o’clock, it doesn’t start with a “hi and how are you” or a warm-up song or anything less than driving, forceful, harmonica, guitar, bass, and drums. That night his band rocked from the minute he took the stage – to a very modest crowd – through the night. I had seen lots of bands, but he put on a show. It was pure exhilaration to witness him working and sweating and growling and yelling and singing. And to watch the band, too. Particularly the late Mambo John Treanor. He didn’t just “play drums,” he performed like an actor in an action-adventure-romance. At one point, he filled a bell shaped cymbal with water and quietly hit it until the sound faded away on a song about a sinking ship. It was cinematic.
We were going to continue driving after the Guy Forsyth show in order to stay at a bed and breakfast 70 miles away. We expected to leave before the second set. One set wasn’t enough. We decided we could stay until midnight. Midnight came and went and we thought, “Well, they’ll stop by 1:30AM or 2:00AM at the latest…” But 2AM came and went and Guy was still performing as if it was the biggest show of his life. We stayed until the very end, exhausted, and then bought the CDs we didn’t have and headed on down the highway.
Life has funny twists and turns, and before we knew it we lived in Austin and my husband ended up playing with Guy Forsyth’s blues band off and on through the years. It’s been over 20 years since I saw that first show, but Guy still never disappoints. He never EVER phones it in or does anything less than his best effort to entertain and move his audience. His energy never flags even though he plays with four different bands (and solo, too) and seems to always have a gig. I am lucky enough to live in a town with hundreds of talented musicians and performers. But to see Guy Forsyth is a transformative experience.
– Submitted by Janice Williams, Music Design
*Cover photo © David Brendan Hall