Saturday, July 12, 2008

Slim Forsythe

Slim Forsythe

Kevin "Slim" Forsythe mosied down from the Bradford county Northern Tier in the seventies to head to Pitt, and hasn't left his new stompin' grounds yet - well, not for long anyway.

Forsythe now leads a western swing band, but his life reads more like the C&W songs he and the group perform.

While working his way to his J.D., he was a maker of Zippo lighters & Dresser couplings, warehouseman for an industrial supply company, roustabout, janitor, night shift attendant at a beer distributor, book store clerk, driver and mover for a hauling company, life insurance salesman, house painter, typewriter cleaner, summer school gym teacher, and a few other things that he'd rather forget about. But it all paid the bills.

His career took a decidedly more white collar turn when he passed the bar in 1984. After a stint at Rothman Gordon Foreman & Groudine, Forsythe spent the next couple of decades working in the City Controller's Office.

He was deputy School Board Controller, audit manager, lead attorney for the assessment appeal brouhaha, and helped implement and then supervise the People Soft section, the City's accounting software heart. Since he left the conference rooms and pinstripes in 2006, he's been following the bohemian beat of an artist. It's not a new life-style.

Forsythe's written articles in three different law reviews, and published a set of novels, "The Pittsburgh River Trilogy," along with "The Three Boys: A Winter’s Tale of the Northern Tier."

His personal life has also followed a novel's plot line. He's been married three times - though he's quick to point out, not at the same time, whew - and was part of the Communal Farm Experiment in Turtlepoint, McKean County, from 1977 to 1981.

Forsythe was president of the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Alliance in 1983. He took a quick hiatus from the work world to serve as a volunteer at Mother Teresa’s House of the Dying in Calcutta for two months in 1988. He served with the Catholic Workers.

And as with any good country singer, he earned his blues when he served as a guest of the government in the Allegheny County Jail for 30 days in 1989. Forsythe went to the big house for his part in an anti-nuke protest, though, not because he shot a man just to watch him die. Oh well, no one's perfect.

And yah, he's had the music in him for a while. It's probably genetic. Frank Forsythe, Kevin's dad, was a jazz singer and big band crooner in Pittsburgh night clubs, radio and television back in the day. He often performed on KDKA TV's "Duquesne Showtime" sponsored by the brewery in the early 1950's, and was even one of the models for Duke Beer's "Prince of Pilsener."

The 52-year old Forsythe was with the late great ATS, dabbling in keyboards, sax, vocals, management, copyright & trademark, booking, and PR, while "losing my shirt on three nationally released albums" from 1990 to 1995.

He hosted "Slim Forsythe’s Old Time Country Western Radio Hour" on WEDO for a while, and now is the frontman for Slim Forsythe and the Parklane Drifters.

It's a country swing band that's heavy on the sounds of the old icons - Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Bob Willis and that crew of cowboy cats. In fact, his nom d' music of Slim came from local country legend Slim Bryant.

You can find them at clubs, parties, and radio gigs across the area, with their homebase being Neid's Hotel on Butler Street in Lawrenceville, where Forsythe lives. The group consists of guitarist and old ATS bud Evan "Big Rock" Knauer, bassist Craig Roberts and fiddle player Erin "Scratchy" Hutter.

Slim and the Parklane Drifters released a full length album, "Bury Me Up On That Northern Tier" in 2009. Sound Engineer and Producer Sam Matthews at Holmes Street Sound mixed it, and the CD features ten Forsythe compositions, including the title cut.

He also has a couple of singles out, 2011's "Why Can't I Get Duquesne on this Sad and Lonesome Train?" done with the Beagle Brothers (and now part of Duke's ad campaign) and a holiday tune with the Parklane Drifters called "Steeltown Christmas" that helps support the Cathy G Charities.

Forsythe also plays with a variety of musicians, like Nied's house band, The Stillhouse Pickers, The Beagle Brothers and The Surf Zombies.

Hey, not every group is on Billboard; heck, ol' Slim is drivin' a bus now as his day job. But if they have the talent - and Kevin does - they'll find a niche in the City.

Slim Forsythe and the Parklane Drifters live - "Up On That Old Northern Tier"

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