Steve Forbert Tips His Hat to ‘The Father of Country Music,’ Jimmie Rodgers

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If you’re familiar with both Steve Forbert and Jimmie Rodgers, you’ve probably figured out that the contemporary folk singer has more in common with the so-called father of country music than the fact that both were born in the vicinity of Meridian, Miss. It’s not a huge leap from, say, Rodgers’ “My Carolina Sunshine Girl” to such Forbert tunes as “Song for Katrina.” And if Rodgers were alive today, he might be writing numbers like Forbert’s “What Kinda Guy” or “Strange Names” instead of the equally lighthearted “Everybody Does It in Hawaii.”

Be that as it may, Forbert is a major fan of the “Singing Brakeman” and has featured his songs in concerts over the years, and in 2002, he released an entire album of material associated with Rodgers, the Grammy-nominated Any Old Time. On his latest digital-only archival release—which follows close on the heels of a new live recording of his 40-year-old Jackrabbit Slim—Forbert again tips his hat to the legendary country artist, this time with a collection called Rodgers Revisited.

The album includes 14 songs recorded in concert at locations around the U.S., including Meridian. The oldest of these performances dates from 1980; the newest are from early 2020, shortly before the pandemic put a halt to live concerts. Two of the tracks—“Years Ago” and the aforementioned ”Everybody Does It in Hawaii”—also show up on 1987’s Here’s Your Pizza, but much of this material appears to be previously unreleased.

Related: What were the best new albums of 2020 by classic rockers?

Supplementing the live material are seven studio demos that Forbert recorded prior to making Any Old Time. These feature the album’s coproducer, the E Street Band’s Garry W. Tallent, on electric guitar, banjo and upright bass.

Order Rodgers Revisited and sample tracks here.

Mixing such well-known Rodgers numbers as “Waiting for a Train” and “In the Jailhouse Now” with relative obscurities, Forbert offers affectionate covers that pay tribute to the originals while adding a contemporary flavor and a large dose of his own personality. If you’re a fan of either Rodgers or Forbert, you’re bound to love it. If you’re a fan of both, you’ll love it even more.

Jeff Burger

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