Roy Forbes | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Roy Forbes

Roy (Henry Charles) ("Bim") Forbes. Singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer, broadcaster, b Dawson Creek, near Prince George, BC, 13 Feb 1953; hon Associate of Arts (Northern Lights College) 2007.

Roy Forbes

Roy (Henry Charles) ("Bim") Forbes. Singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer, broadcaster, b Dawson Creek, near Prince George, BC, 13 Feb 1953; hon Associate of Arts (Northern Lights College) 2007. Roy Forbes began playing guitar at 14 and performed with a rock band, The Crystal Ship, before moving to Vancouver in 1971. Using the stagename Bim (a childhood nickname) until 1987, he appeared widely in western Canada (and less frequently in the east) on the folk club and festival circuit, in coffeehouses, and bars. He travelled first as a solo performer, 1979-82 with a rock band, and thereafter with various accompanists (eg, the guitarist Norman MacPherson). Forbes lived 1977-8 in Los Angeles while recording the LP Thistles and later toured in the USA with Connie Kaldor, his frequent partner in performance during the mid-1980s. In 1989, with Bill Henderson (Chilliwack) and Shari Ulrich, he formed the folk trio UHF, which performed at several Canadian festivals and recorded UHF (1990, Tangible TR-101, cassette; TR-102, CD) and UHF II (1994, Tangible).

Regarded among the most eloquent songwriters of his generation, Roy Forbes invests in many of his songs (eg, 'Winterkill') a particularly strong sense of Canadian place and experience. His music has been described by Craig MacInnis (Toronto Star, 11 Oct 1988) as 'a rich and happy pastiche of folk, blues, country and rock, delivered in a high, keening voice that has no equal in popular music.' Forbes is also known for his interpretations of Hank Williams' songs - eg, 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry.' His own titles of note include 'Right After My Heart,' 'Talk Around Town,' and 'Love or Something,' the last one of several songs he wrote with Kaldor. His songs have been recorded by Ulrich, Heather Bishop, Tracey Brown, Cindy Church, Norman Foote, the Great Western Orchestra, Susan Jacks, Matt Minglewood, Garnet Rogers, Hart Rouge, Sylvia Tyson, Valdy, and Suzie Vinnick, and the US performers Shawn Colvin, Kathy Kallick, Laurie Lewis, and Skyline. Forbes began producing records in 1985 and has supervised recordings by Kaldor, Cindy Church & the Great Western Orchestra, Susan Crowe, Blu Hopkins, Faith Nolan, Mark Perry, and Jo Whitley.

Under his own name, Roy Forbes released a series of solo albums on AKA Records, starting in 1987. He received a 1999 West Coast Music Award for best folk-roots album for Crazy Old Moon (1998), and was nominated for a Juno award. The album includes the jazz-tinged "Green Emotions," and certain other songs use electric instruments and a more rock 'n' roll style. The album includes the songs "Powered by Love," "Nothing Like Lonesome," and "I'm on the Edge," with lyrical inspiration coming partly from having often been away on tour. In 2006, he released Some Tunes for That Mother of Mine, comprising cover songs (eg by Hank Snow and Neil Young) and one new song.

Some of Roy Forbes's songs have been used in films and television, and he has scored films and television shows, eg the documentary film Blockade (1993) and the TV documentary Stand Up Samurais (2001). Starting in 1996, once or twice per year (and on New Year's Day since 2003), Forbes has hosted CBC Radio's "Snap, Crackle, Pop," and he began hosting the CKUA (Edmonton) radio show "Roy's Record Room" in 2006. He collects historic 78-rpm recordings, and participates in songwriting workshops for the Songwriters Association of Canada, for which he served as board member 1999-2006. A street in Dawson Creek is named for Forbes.


As Bim

Kid Full of Dreams. 1975. Casino CA-1007

Raincheck on Misery. 1976. Casino CA-1009

Thistles. 1977-8. Elektra 6E-132

Anything You Want. 1981. RCI 517/Stony Plain SPL-1044

Also, New Songs for an Old Celebration with Connie Kaldor (1985, Aural Tradition ATR-109)

As Roy Forbes

Love Turns to Ice. 1987. AKA-1001

The Human Kind. 1992. AKA

Almost Overnight. 1995. AKA

Crazy Old Moon. 1998. AKA

Some Tunes for That Mother of Mine. 2006. AKA

Further Reading