Slim Forsythe (photo by Rich of Coda Photography)
Kevin "Slim" Forsythe, Lawrenceville's country institution based out of Nied's Hotel on Butler Street, has released his first pilot for what he hopes will become a televised musical series "Live From Nied's Hotel."
Forsythe may be strumming and singing to one of America's oldest genres, but he raised funds (and awareness) for the show in a decidedly 21st century manner - he started a Kickstarter campaign in the spring, raising over $10,000 to shoot the first episode.
With the seed money in hand, he brought in the Beagle Brothers and Molly Alphabet, a pair of the area's better known country acts, to share the Nied's stage this summer. Just as importantly, a crew directed by Dino DiStefano, a Grammy-winning music producer who has recorded as the sound engineer on WQED TV's "Live from Studio A" and at the Manchester Craftsman's Guild, captured the show on tape. It's a first-class effort all around.
The performances are all top shelf, with mostly original songs with some distinctive lyricism and local name-dropping. The show is nicely paced thanks to the round table vignettes between melodies.
The Beagle Brothers ("The Architects of the Bloomfield Sound") reminisce about their start from St. Mary's, from getting their name from some backyard pooches and progressing from punk to rock (Slim himself started with ATS) to country. Molly explains how her typically Lawrenceville name of Molly Szramowski was transformed into the more user-friendly Molly Alphabet by an old country singer from the Great Plains.
Slim goes through his changes - fittingly for a country singer, he's been everything from a bus driver to attorney, with a couple of City Hall stops thrown in, and lives over a bar. He picked up his name to commemorate Pittsburgh's country legend Slim Bryant, who led the Wildcats and traces his roots back to Jimmy Rodgers. Slim's dad Frank was a big band singer, working with another seminal Pittsburgh Sound personality, Lennie Martin.
So come for the show and stay for the stories; it's an entertaining and tightly played opening act for the dream of a long run.