Steve Forbert

The Day: Folk-pop genius Steve Forbert plays the Kate Friday

A little hype is a dangerous thing. Music fans of a certain age might remember when Steve Forbert, known affectionately as "Little Stevie Forbert," was proclaimed in the late '70s by media bandwagon-hoppers as "the new Dylan."

There were immediate tsunamis of reaction to such praise. Presumably Forbert, a modest Mississippi kid, might have said, "Holy (expletive)! They're comparing me to Dylan!" And the reaction from intrigued consumers, who lined up at record stores to buy early Forbert albums such as "Alive on Arrival," "Jackrabbit Slim" and "Little Stevie Orbit," then probably came to the conclusion that (A) yes, Forbert is a distinctive, really good — even excellent — songwriter, and that (B) NO ONE is Bob Dylan.

There's a backlash to stuff like this, including that a lot of folks blamed Forbert for not being Dylan even though some genuinely sincere journalists got excited by the hype of the comparison.

What's the point?

Forty years later — still Little Stevie, still Jackrabbit Slim — Forbert is not by anyone's definition a "superstar," which is a ridiculous conceit anyway. More importantly, he's still making remarkable and vital records like last year's "The Magic Tree," with world-class material like the title track, "Diamond Sky" and "I Ain't Got the Time." And he's touring and playing heartfelt, witty concerts stuffed with 18 studio albums' worth of amazing songs. He'll be at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center Friday. If he's not the new Dylan, it's waaaay more than enough that he's Steve Forbert.

Steve Forbert, 8 p.m. Friday, Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main St., Old Saybrook; $25-$30; (860) 510-0453.

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