Chris Forte is a Chicago-based touring and performing guitarist, as well as a dedicated family man and modern-day philosopher. With influences spanning many genres, Chris’ diversity as a player and musician have brought him through the wealth of experiences that make up his career.
Chris’ current independent album release, Backyard Astronomy, exemplifies the grace with which he fluently goes from style to style. Also on display is the diversity of influences Chris has picked up along the way: Duane Allman, Jeff Beck, Wes Montgomery, B.B. King, Paco de Lucia, nods to these greats and more can be found in Chris’ full album offering.
Chris’ musical endeavors began on classical piano at age 7, eventually bringing him to the guitar at age 16. Taken in by classic rock players at first, Chris found his way into Blues and Jazz, always incorporating the tones and techniques of each style to make it his own. Encouraged by his teacher and mentor, Frank Dawson, Chris studied and attained a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Guitar from Roosevelt University’s Chicago Musical College. While a full-time student, Chris was performing full time at Chicago’s Second City in Tony & Tina’s Wedding, a faux Italian-American musical that was one of the longest running theater shows in Chicago history.
While still a cast member at Tony & Tina’s, Chris performed regularly on Chicago’s original music scene with various bands including his own Funk band called Soul Farmer. Also at this time, Chris appeared on several episodes of the nationally syndicated Jenny Jones Show, spoofing the travelling musicians from the movie, There’s Something About Mary.
After his college studies finished, Chris continued to play across the Chicago music scene and ended up performing with bassist/singer Sam Cockrell from 1999-2006. With Sam, Chris toured the US and Canada, released 2 albums, I’m In The Business and Colorblind, as well as recorded and performed with Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love of The Memphis Horns. With Sam and other Blues artists, Chris shared stages and bills with many diverse acts: The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Lonnie Mack, Buddy Guy, Digital Underground, George Clinton, Lonnie Brooks, Koko Taylor, Joey DeFrancesco, and many others.
Also in the early 2000’s, Chris played for many years at the iconic Chicago venue, Lonie Walker’s Underground Wonderbar with local singer/songwriter Heather Horton. In 2007, Chris co-produced Heather Horton’s album, Most Of All, recorded at Rax Trax Studio in Chicago. With Heather, Chris found himself opening for Joan Armatrading, performing at the Auto Shows in Chicago and New York City, as well as playing such clubs as 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville and The Cat Club in Los Angeles.
In 2003, Chris released a CD of Blues Rock guitar-based songs titled Soul Farmer. That album had a song called The Tomahawk that was featured on the ABC show The Shark Tank during a pitch that involved a company called Caddyswag. Since its first broadcast date, the show has been seen across the US and in over 30 countries worldwide.
In 2018, Chris began performing with Soundtracks of a Generation, first playing in their Soul Commitments/Van Morrison show. This relationship has developed as Chris and former radio DJ, Doug James, have partnered with Chris now running the STOAG office as Office Manager, as well as being a performer/musical director on several tribute shows including: Aretha Franklin, Joe Cocker, The Last Waltz, Desert Rock, Lake Street Dive, and more. Soundtracks has put on shows in many theaters in the Chicago area and continues to branch out into the Midwest.
Most recently, Chris has joined Mannheim Steamroller in 2021, and tours with their Red Band playing classical guitar, electric bass, and lute. He is also performing beginning in 2022 with the Buddy Rich Big Band Machine. Chris leads his own Wedding and Corporate Band called The Forte Band, as well he performs as a freelance guitarist all over the Chicago area, and the country.
Also in 2022, Chris has rejoined J.C. Clements, and is recording and co-producing her upcoming Album release, which features a broad range of Americana and Blues stylings.
Chris teaches guitar out of his home and over zoom. As well, he has been Adjunct Faculty at Columbia College Chicago for 15 years, teaching Guitar Techniques, Guitar Ensemble, and private guitar lessons.
In addition to his musical undertakings and achievements, Chris is a devoted family man, married for over 16 years to his wife, Kristin, with 2 beautiful children that he considers his greatest life accomplishments.