Video Feature & Web-Exclusive Interview

Video:  “The Things That Matter


Guy Forsyth & Jeska Bailey will be featured at the Blue Rock aLive! Cool Nights 2020 virtual concert series this Thursday, November 5. The series features iconic Austin-based artists—“for the songs, for the artists, for all of us.” You can buy a Season Pass for only $105—and have a seat in the house by sending in your headshot. They place it on a seat, so you will literally be sitting in the room.

Blue Rock’s innovation, quality and creativity is evidenced in concerts produced with broadcast quality audio-video from their renowned Texas room—streamed straight to you. Individual tickets can also be purchased for $25:

Guy Forsyth is a blues rock singer-songwriter and storyteller who has won the Austin Male Vocalist of the Year Award. Jeska Bailey owned the Sealy Flatts Blues club in San Angelo, Texas where she met Forsyth, her husband. When she’s not singing lead on her own songs, her harmonies lift his vocals. Forsyth has toured nationwide and internationally and opened for Ray Charles, Robert Cray, B.B. King, Ben Harper, Lucinda Williams, Dr. John and John Hammond. As seen in songs like “The Things That Matter Most,” Forsyth is a storyteller who draws you into the essence of his world where stories come to life in song.

We talked with Guy Forsyth and Jeska Bailey about songwriting, creativity in all forms, tradition and honoring musicians who have paved their path, living a life in music and how Texas runs deep in their veins.

with M Music & Musicians magazine publisher, Merlin David

How did the idea of “The Things That Matter” come to you and Brian David Keane?
Guy: I was writing songs with Brian at his home in Nashville when I got a telephone call about Stephen Bruton, who was ill. After talking to Brian about it, we wrote this song in about 15 minutes. It’s not always this easy but sometimes if you are paying attention, it is.

Tell us the story behind a song will play at Blue Rock’s Cool Nights 2020 (Nov 5).
Guy: “Snakes around My Trailer” is an ode to the lethalness of Texas. I don’t know if you’ve walked out of your trailer barefoot in the morning and found a rattlesnake on your doorstep. The odds are not zero, if you live here in Texas.

Jeska: “Midnight” is my latest song written during the pandemic. It broaches a topic that gets me all fired up—stalking. I hate that someone being stalked is essentially powerless unless their stalker finally causes them bodily harm or they are murdered due to the severity of the stalking. I hope to use this new tune as a way to bring light to an incredibly dangerous topic that doesn’t get enough attention.

What did you learn about yourselves after recording Conspirators?
Guy: Simple elements are sometimes the most powerful. Conspirators is voices and guitar, and is an alternative to the trends of modern production. Start with good ingredients, and let them be.
Jeska: I learned that taking others guidance and believing in someone else’s vision can be really powerful. We worked with Matt Smith at Six String Ranch in Austin, Texas and I just couldn’t hear the right harmonies on “Concrete.” Matt just heard the most lovely, intricate harmonies. I went into the recording space and he would sing me his vision note by note. When I was finished, the results were truly breathtaking. The entire album started as a rough demo and it turned out to be a fantastic testament to believing in others ideas and visions.

Guy Forsyth is a storyteller who draws you into the essence of his world where stories come to life in song.

Who originally inspired you to write songs?
Guy: Grant Watts was a friend since grade school. In high school, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster happened—the space shuttle blew up. The next time I saw Grant, he had already written a song about it. It was the first time I saw someone take an event that I was privy to and turn it into a song. That opened a door for me. I remember thinking: Oh, you can just do that? It’s the first time I realized I didn’t need permission to be an artist.

What songwriting tip would you like to offer?
Guy: It’s a way to connect with people. Stories are the threads that tie us together. I started writing songs because I was a fan. Songs are tools to transcend what we think is possible and to realize what we have to gain, as well as what we could lose.

Jeska: I always felt I had songs inside me but hadn’t ever actually written an original song until Guy and I started dating about four years ago. Guy tells me that I have to write lots of terrible songs before I write some that really work and stick in people’s minds. So I’m trying. I try not to take myself too seriously and try to light my Dolly Parton themed candle whenever I’m writing. I like to think she sends me good vibes.

What instruments/equipment can you not live without?
Guy: My National Reso-Phonic Guitar. It has a different timber than the wood body guitar, and I think it is the voice of unrealized America.
Jeska: My cell phone tends to help me a lot—keeping track of voice memos and notes that come to me. Having an instrument handy is also helpful.

Which Top 5 Musicians inspired you to become a musician?

  1. Grant Watts: a friend in high school, and the first person I knew who wrote songs. It was big to watch him show up with a new song, to see that you could just do it.
  2. Jeff Black: gave me my first paying gig back in Kansas City and taught me to listen to a quiet song.
  3. Tom Waits: writes as if pop music never happened.
  4. John Hammond: saw him play when I was 18—changed my life forever. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.
  5. Jon Dee Graham: taught me that you still have something to say—no matter what.


  1. Bette Midler: one of the very first CDs I purchased after getting my first Discman player from a second-hand CD shop—her greatest hits.
  2. Brandi Carlile: her harmonies and song structure have always struck such a resonant chord. She inspires me with her writing, playing and ability to stand up for the things she believes in.
  3. Tracy Bonham: also one of my first CDs. I can’t ever get enough of her 1996 album The Burdens of Being Upright. I fondly remember my earliest driving days cruising streets, listening to her grunge rock. Growing up Pentecostal, this type of music really struck a chord inside me that I hadn’t ever heard before. I was and am hooked.
  4. Dolly Parton: we have similar backgrounds, growing up in the church, Pentecostal—and I was the oldest of eight kids. I grew up poor and admire the way she kept herself humble even though she has worldwide fame. When I write, my Dollymama runs deep in my blood.
  5. Fiona Apple: one of my favorite artists. I love the theatrical nature of her songs. She reaches deep inside herself to adequately show the things she is feeling. Her changes in rhythm and instruments, and the way she plays with sounds, always keeps me coming back for more.

What are your Top 5 favorite albums of all time?

Small Change (1976) — Tom Waits
Live (1979) — Muddy “Mississippi” Waters
Good Old Boys (1974) — Randy Newman
Anthology of American Folk Music (1952) — Harry Smith
The Complete Recordings (1990) — Robert Johnson

Greatest Hits (1975) — Abba
Rumours (1977) — Fleetwood Mac
When the Pawn … (1999) — Fiona Apple
Joanne (2016) — Lady Gaga
The Firewatcher’s Daughter (2015) — Brandi Carlile

Tell us a “pinch me” moment when you thought “Wow, this is really happening to me!
Guy: Sitting at Levon Helm’s table—eating his M&Ms. A friend was putting together a movie festival in New York and both Levon Helm and Kris Kristofferson committed. Things were falling apart and Levon offered The Ramble in Woodstock—one of the coolest venues. It’s definitely the best smelling venue with a 150-year-old barn—the wood is untreated. I combined my band with Carolyn Wonderland’s band. I also got to sing “The Weight” with Helm and Kristofferson.

Jeska: Texting with Tracy Bonham. I also opened for Foreigner at the Texas Motor Speedway a number of years ago—I sang the National anthem.

The best advice someone has given you. And what would you tell upcoming musicians.
Guy: John Hammond said “Outlive your critics.” I would tell any young musician to get a business degree in self-defense.
Jeska: Mr. Housley said “The anticipation is always worse than the plunge” and I have used this advice time and time again.

How do you remain hopeful in this strange and unique socio-political time?
Guy: I know that our ancestors have survived much worse than this.
Jeska: I try to stand up for what I believe in, be kind and listen.

Why is Blue Rock such a special place?
Billy and Dodee help musicians share the thing that they love. Places like Blue Rock Studio provide a top-tier format and venue to express our passion.

Where can new fans get more info and stay updated?

Instagram: @guyforsythband
Instagram: @jeska_bailey_forsyth
Twitter: @guy_forsyth
Twitter: @JeskaBailey

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