On Friday night I made my way over to The Saxon Pub to see Guy Forsyth. For those who aren’t familiar, The Saxon Pub is an
live music institution: it’s dark, small and just seedy enough to feel like an adventure for the aging hipster set, which makes it a stellar venue to catch Guy Forsyth. Austin
Guy is an insanely talented musician. He plies the acoustic guitar and ukulele with intensity, he plays electric slide guitar masterfully, and his skill with a harmonica is a beautiful thing to behold. He doesn’t seduce his audience with gentle wooing and subtle caresses – he won’t appeal to those who prefer polite affections from their musicians. Guy’s musical style reminds me of the bad boy your parents warn you about. He’s the musical equivalent of the lover who slams you against the wall and strips every ounce of resistance from your brain.
At least, that’s the musician I thought I was trekking to see Friday night. I had this beautiful metaphor mentally sketched when I walked in the door. Imagine my surprise, showing up for a date with the tattooed bad guy that would have made a parent cringe, and finding the roustabout carnie who took the stage. Was he here to play music, or was he here to set up a tilt-a-whirl?
Guy was wearing hickory striped bib overalls of the Dickies variety with a black tank top, and sporting a pork pie hat. He didn’t have sideburns – he had burnsides; no really, his sideburns connected to his moustache – a style straight out of GQ, The Civil War Issue. The facial hair was fluffy enough that, from my side view of the stage, I kept remembering a pot that needed scrubbing back at home. When he sat down to play the saw, I was convinced I saw a pouch of RedMan in his back pocket, and felt a moment’s concern for the folks at the table up front, who were easily within spitting distance.
My nose kept sniffing, expecting the blended scents of tobacco, sweat, dust and day old Irish Spring on the air.
Oy. Forget rough lover metaphors, at least if my eyes were looking at the stage.
Although my eyes kept recalling scenes from HBO's Carnivale, my ears were not disappointed. Guy is an amazing musician. He can sell folky, socially conscious ballads, or jazzy ditties with a touch of Dixieland, or pure delta blues, or even Satchmo with equally convincing mastery. He bends each instrument he plies to his will, and his intensity leaves you more than satisfied at the end of the evening.
I plan to catch him again at Sam’s Burger Joint on June 24 and I’m intensely curious which visual version of Guy Forsyth will show up for the gig. Tattooed bad boy, seasoned musician, or roustabout carnie, the next time I won’t walk in the door with preconceived notions; and, I know whichever it is, the music won’t disappoint.