Roy Forbes celebrates 50 years of music this weekend in Oak Bay


Double Juno nominee has tour dates in support of new album, Edge of Blue


What: Roy Forbes

Or: Upstairs Living Room, Oak Bay Recreation Center, 1975 Bee St.

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (doors at 6 p.m.)

Tickets: $30 from beaconridgeproductions; $35 at the door

Roy Forbes has returned after the longest break of his 50-year career, an 18-month hiatus due to COVID-19. This is a surprise in itself.

Forbes, who lost his right eye to glaucoma aged six, lost sight in his left eye following a home accident in 2015. Now legally blind, the 69 years could have called it a day during the pandemic, with very little to prove. Few among his legion of admirers would have blamed the popular North Vancouver resident if he had chosen to retire. But he returned to music and released his first new album of material in 14 years.

The two-time Juno nominee, who recorded as Bim until 1982, now has tour dates to support the new album, Edge Blue, including a Saturday stop at the upstairs lounge at the Oak Bay Recreation Center. Fans often approach the Dawson Creek native and tell him they’re thrilled to see him back on stage; the feeling is mutual, Forbes said.

“Some of us have been hanging out for almost 50 years. I was happy to get together again.

Forbes is performing solo right now, and that’s how many people in British Columbia will remember him from his early days on the Vancouver stage. He arrived in 1971 as a relatively untested talent known only as Bim, but Forbes quickly asserted himself. Word of his singing, songwriting and guitar playing prowess grew, leading to several key shows and studio sessions, featuring everyone from David Foster, Richard Thompson and Rita Coolidge to John Lee Hooker and Santana.

“I’m more than capable of carrying it [solo],” he said. “Honestly, I like it that way. I can walk a tightrope on my own and make a little change in a tune, and I don’t have to worry about people telling me. follow.

Not all ’70s shows were a cakewalk for Forbes, whose music has always been suited to environments where listening — not partying — is a priority. However, as an upstart on the tough Vancouver scene, he hasn’t always had a say. Genres were less defined back then, so he found himself on stage in unforgiving environments.

“I opened for Jeff Beck at the Queen Elizabeth Theater in 1975, and the crowd was full of heavy metal guitarists who must have been like, ‘What’s that guy doing up there?’ ” he said, laughing. “And then I took it out I’m so alone that I could Weepa Hank Williams track that I had been doing for years that won them over.

Forbes dabbled in the years since, from a Christmas album with Connie Kaldor and Norm MacPherson, to joining the supergroup UHF, with Shari Ulrich of the Hometown Band and Bill Henderson of Chilliwack. Edge of Blue, his first studio recording since 2006, arrived in 2020 and brought together a host of Vancouver luminaries, from bluegrass mandolinist John Reischman and jazz pianist Chris Gestrin to multi-instrumentalist Claire Lawrence of The Collectors.

Forbes said the journey has been fascinating so far, from playing rock and roll in Dawson Creek to exploring singer-songwriter territory around Western Canadian festivals. “There’s a handful of us who still do it, who did it back then, and that’s cool. We just carry on. I lost my sight in 2015, but I was able to get back on stage five or six months after my accident. I just continued.

Hit the road with fresh material is a dream scenario for Forbes. His fans often demand to hear specific songs at each concert — Raising my Heart, If I was a Ravenor So close to you – so it will dive into edge of blue when he needs to choke off the flow of requests, Forbes joked.

“These fans that I created in the 70s with these first records, these songs belong to them. The fans stuck with me when I changed my name in ’87, and they’ve been so loyal from the ’80s through today. It’s a loyal group. And it really touches me now. I don’t know if it’s the 50th anniversary mark, but the connection we have, the fans and I, runs deep. It’s really deep. It’s quite emotional to sit there at the CD table, chatting with people and hearing their stories. The tunes came out and they did something. It feels really good.

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