Roy Forbes returns to the Peace Region this weekend

It doesn't take much for Roy Forbes to launch into stories about home.

The Rolla-born musician, who plays Dawson Creek Saturday, brims with tales of the early days of rock n' roll in the Northeast.

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On the phone from North Vancouver Wednesday, he recalls practice sessions in a Pouce Coupe shack and a late-night trip down the Alaska Highway after a show in Fort St. John in the dead of winter.

"We had two guys in the bed [of a truck] with quilts over the equipment," he said. 

Forbes left for Vancouver at 18 and went on to become one of the region's best-known cultural exports — a frequent performer at folk festivals and rock clubs, as well as a radio presenter.

On Feb. 14, he plays the Calvin Kruk Centre in what organizers hope will be the first of a regular concert series.

Since his first album 1975, Dawson Creek has featured prominently in both Forbes'  music and his story.

"It's certainly more interesting to talk about that growing up in the suburbs, I think," he said of his upbringing.

When he began playing guitar in the late 60s, the Peace was far from an artistic melting pot.

He recalls his sisters bringing home Elvis and Buddy Holly 45s, but beyond that, a rock n' roll education was hard to come by.

"There's just the isolation," he said. "I wasn't able to go out to clubs and see all these people come by, all the Americans coming through. There was nothing like that in Dawson Creek.

"But it made me work a little harder," he said.

His first band, the Crystal Ship, was a hippie staple in the Peace. Later, he performed as Bim, a childhood nick name.

In the intervening decades, Forbes performed alongside Carlos Santana, Supertramp and John Lee Hooker.

His home town has embraced him. Forbes was honoured with both a degree from Northern Lights College and his own street — Roy Forbes Drive in Dawson Creek ("It's tiny, but it's there," he said.)

His latest live album, Strikin' Matches, features a number of 2012 recordings from a show at the Rolla Hall celebrating the community's centennial.  

"It was hotter than blazes," he recalls. "It was a long weekend in August. A lot of the people who came back knew me as a little boy.

That was very emotional."

Hometown performances continue to be that way, he said.

"You try to treat every show the same, but this is a bit of an exception for the hometown crowd," he said. "You're at the CD table afterwards and the people come up and the memories just go. You just never know what kinds of stories will come out."

reporter@dcdn.ca

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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