Steve Forbert — Americana Highways’ Key to the Highway series
Fans always clamor to learn more about their favorite, most beloved musicians and those who travel with them. There’s such an allure to the road, with its serendipity, inevitable surprises, and sometimes unexpected discomforts. This interview series is a set of questions we are asking some of our favorite roots rock Americana artists to get to know more about them and what they’ve learned and experienced on the road. We are sure they have key insights to share and stories to tell. Here’s one from Steve Forbert.
Americana Highways: How do you like your coffee or other morning wake-up beverage?
Steve Forbert: Coffee with milk. How much coffee? What the coffee maker machine calls “five cups.”
AH: What’s the most interesting or strangest motel/hotel or place you have stayed (while on the road for music?)
SF: I did the David Letterman show in 1988. They put all musical guests up in the Hotel Carlyle in Midtown Manhattan. For one night, I found myself checking into the same suite that Neil Young and Paul McCartney would sometimes stay in when visiting Manhattan. It was like a large two bedroom apartment and even had a grand piano— a little more extravagant than my usual lodgings on tour.
I typically stay in the old style motels where you can park right outside the door to your room. One night back around 2010 I was awakened in the middle of the night by some creature climbing furiously up the curtains. Still half asleep, I got up and open the motel room door and stood there for about two minutes. This, I figured, would allow the creature (whatever it was —an opossum or a squirrel?) to escape. Then I went back to bed.
The next day I remembered this incident while checking out. Walking back to my room on a hunch, I got down on the floor and looked under the bed. There, in the darkness, backed against the wall, was a big tabby cat staring back at me.
AH: If one CD is stuck in the player in the van for the entire tour, what do you hope it is? And why?
SF: It’s a pretty quirky choice and I doubt the entire group of passengers could listen to it for the whole tour, but I think Vauxhall and I by Morrissey (which in my opinion was the best pop record of the 90s) would be the winner.
AH: What’s one personal item you must have with you on your road trip.
SF: My song “What Kinda Guy?”, written in 1975, says I don’t wear pajamas, but that’s not actually true. Flannel pajamas, even in the summer, are very important and make for a comfortable way to conclude each day.
AH: What is your relationship with food? How do you handle this on the road, and what’s your favorite dish on the road, (or restaurant, and what do you order there)?
SF: I usually gravitate toward Mexican restaurants–Chicken Enchiladas Verde will always be the choice. Here on the Jersey Shore few Mexican restaurants actually have refried beans!
I like getting out there in Texas or middle America and finding the Tex-Mex style places that do have them.
AH: If you could pause your life for a few weeks and spend some time living in a place you only have passed through, which would you choose, and why?
SF: Even though I’ve visited New Orleans many times since 1970, it’s still a place I’m always willing to go back to. The French Quarter is kind of like being in a foreign country without all the travel hassles, language barriers, etc.
AH: What quote or piece of advice have you gotten from someone on the road that has really stuck with you?
SF: I’ve always got a place to stay I can get away in.—Hazel Moats (A Flannery O’Connor character in director John Huston’s movie, Wise Blood, talking about his new used car.)
Find all things Steve Forbert here: https://www.steveforbert.com
See other Key to the Highway interviews here: https://americanahighways.org/category/interviews/key-to-the-highway-series/ (click here for: Jimmy Smith Ben Nichols Bruce Cockburn Charlie Musselwhite Nicki Bluhm Jim White Danny Barnes Patterson Hood Jerry Joseph BJ Barham Rodney Crowell Todd Snider Elizabeth Cook Tommy Womack Eric Ambel, Dan Baird, Robbie Fulks, Malcolm Holcombe Jon Langford Steve Poltz, Lilly Hiatt Sarah Shook & the Disarmers Sadler Vaden )
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