Steve Forbert with CBGB Soundman Charlie Martin


In his new memoir, Big City Cat: My Life in Folk Rock, the groundbreaking singer-songwriter Steve Forbert recounts his early days as part of the downtown NYC scene, where he was equally comfortable playing at Folk City and CBGB. He also talks about his managers, Danny Fields and Linda Stein, and his clashes with the Ramones.

In 1976, a 21-year-old singer-songwriter named Steve Forbert boarded an Amtrak train from his native Meridian, Mississippi. His destination was New York City, and his goal was to begin his career in music. His vibrant performance style, clever lyrics and well-received 1978 debut album, , had critics positioning him as “The New Dylan” and possibly even rock’s next big superstar. “Romeo’s Tune,” the first single on his second album, reached number 11 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and became the song for which he is best known.

When two subsequent albums did not fare as well commercially, Forbert burned through several major labels and managers before trading potential stardom for a devoted cult following and a solid living by consistently and tirelessly playing smaller clubs. Through it all, Forbert has never lost his ability to write uniquely poetic and tuneful songs that exceed the limits of genre and offer something genuinely thoughtful and personal.

Eighteen studio albums and more than 40 years later, Steve Forbert is looking back. His memoir, (PFP), which was released last month, focuses on Forbert’s earliest days in New York City, when he busked for spare change and played in the fabled venues of the downtown music scene. Forbert spoke to PKM as he prepared for several book signings and tour dates in support of his new album release, (Blue Rose Music). This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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