Steve Forbert’s first album presented a persona that was a mix of both calculated innocence and the real article. But Forbert’s genuine innocence was interesting and different, giving his best music an air of something wild and fresh and lost, like a band of young brigands living a life of moonstruck freedom in the Mississippi backwoods. Songs like “Goin’ Down to Laurel” from that album found a place where folk’s dewy optimism and punk romanticism were the same thing. Then some marketing wizards got confused about how to package him, and Forbert ended up on the true trash heap of the industry. His new album, Streets of This Town, is a return from a long stretch in the music-business wilderness. Stuff like “Wait a Little Longer” uses rich 60s classicism along the lines of Rubber Soul or Beggar’s Banquet to demonstrate armed innocence–innocence clung to and fought for so that it turns into a real virtue rather than a phase to be outgrown. Since Springsteen’s credibility took the A train, Forbert is up there with John Cougar Mellencamp and Steve Earle as a poignant voice of baby-boomers still holding to the rock and roll promise. Tonight, 8 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 929-5959.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jeff Morris & Lee Thomas.