Evan Goodrow Band

Evan Goodrow Band
2006 winnder of the Boston Blues Challenge, and much more

By Bill Copeland
July 2007

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Evan Goodrow is a young man in a hurry. No sooner does he finish one project before heĎs already starting another.

And his Evan Goodrow band gives him plenty to do. Only a few months ago he was promoting his acoustic CD called "Songs That Will Never Make It To Radio." Today, he is getting ready to release a new live CD.

"Iím actually not promoting the acoustic CD. Iíve already moved on," he said. "Iím actually promoting a live CD thatís coming out on July 18th. Itís a live set the EGB did opening for Peter Frampton. Itís called EGB Live from the North Shore Music Theater." (The North Shore Music Theater is a performing arts venue in Beverly.)

Goodrow and his three band mates also have a second live CD coming out in September. It was culled from performances in St. Barthsí premiere nightclub, the Bazbar.

Goodrow and company have been playing out all over New England and the East Coast as well as the Caribbean. He finds a funk audience out there at every stop.

"By standards, when we describe ourselves, we tell people that weíre playing modern soul music. A lot of people are dancing, so there is a lot of funk going on. Weíre still playing a lot of blues clubs. I have a gig in July with Buddy Guy (July 20 at the Lowell Boardinghouse Park Summer Concert Series.) Weíre still getting matched with blues artists."

Not content with being popular with dance crowds, Goodrow believes his outfit focuses on artistic endeavors as well.

I think thatís why we won the 2006 blues award," he said. "Weíre practicing artistry. Weíre not just playing covers and kissing ass. Itís not really about that. But there is a common ground. We want to have our audiences there with us. We still are an entertaining band."

When writing new songs, Goodrow tries to take the funk thing in a new direction. He doesnít just want to borrow the same old motifs from James Brown and 1970s funk artists who have already been rehashed a hundred times by cover bands.

"I donít know if musically those tunes really go further than James Brown and Parliament," he said. "Theyíre reminiscent of those styles. But I think the lyrical content is different. I was looking for something that was a little more playful. I was looking for something that had humor in it."

Goodrow found his key humor song in an activity that takes place at all New England nightclubs. Female patrons, whoíve given up on trying to get their male companions to dance, take to the dance floor with other women. Born was his song "Itís OK For Girls To Dance With Girls."

"An interviewer had asked me when I knew the party was really going, when I had the whole room going, when was that moment that had turned?" he said.

Goodrow knew the answer. "Girls just start dancing with girls. Thatís exactly what inspired the song. The song hadnít been written at that point. It was written after that," he said.

"Growing up in New England, playing in New England, men are just typically not into dancing. They just donít dance up here the way they do in the rest of the world. Even down south, guys get crazy. Up here, in the Northeast, they just donít. They have a leftover Puritan hang up."

It was only last November when The Evan Goodrow Band won the Boston Blues Challenge, sending his combo off to Memphis in February to compete with 130 other bands in the International Blues Competition. Although Goodrow and his boys did not make it into the Memphis finals, he did win some important prizes in Boston.

"We got studio time, which we still havenít used, because we have three different studios that we work with," he said. "There hasnít been a need, although we are going to use it at some point. There was a cash prize, and there was a fundraiser to help us get down to Memphis."

Considered more funk than blues by some, Goodrow, according to what is widely believed in blues circles, did not really stand a chance in Memphis: The judges at the IBC are longtime fans of traditional blues music.

"The thing about Memphis was, we never expected to win, because weíre not a traditional blues band, and we were told it was a traditional blues contest," Goodrow said. "So for us, it was more of a matter of going down and meeting musicians and playing and being part of the scene. I mean we had no aspirations of winning. The blues judges have their own ideas about what they like and what theyíve awarded in the past. And we knew that we couldnít do that. So, we decided that we werenít going to change our show to be something that we werenít, and we played it true."

Yet, Goodrow does not blame the city of Memphis or its music fans for how judges think.

"I donít think that the people in Memphis are that way. I donít think the musicians in Memphis are that way. I do think thereís a large population of people who run the blues scene. And when I say that, these are the guys who run the record companies, the guys who book the festivals. Those are the hierarchies. Those are the guys who have been in the business 30, 40, 50, sometimes 60 years, and they have an idea of what they like. And I donít think thereís anything necessarily wrong with that. Again, I wasnít trying to change anyoneís mind. I wasnít trying to step on anyoneís toes. I just realized that we were going to do what we did the best. Thatís why we sell our records and why we have our fan base. It is what it is," he said.

Memphis club patrons at the competitions did show some interest in the band, as they sold several CDs. They were also one of a few bands offered a gig at a Memphis club.

Goodrow finds that fresh approaches are what keep people interested, so he tries new spins on the old funk wheels.

"I think that thereís an attitude about the music that hasnít been around for a while," he said. "I really think thereís something about whatís going on lyrically combined with a little bit of a rawness in the band. To sum it up, Iíd say the attitude is different. Thereís no tragedy going on in the music. There are lots of messages in it. I think itís very self-responsible. Ultimately, itís sort of selfish. I think thereís a lot of soul music out there that isnít necessarily doing that."

Goodrow also writes his own songs, something new soul artists like Joss Stone and Alicia Keys do not attempt.

"They have really good songs. I respect their songs a lot because they have great songwriters working for them. They donít write any of their own music. Thatís a very traditional model. Musicians are great performers and writers are great writers. Thatís an age-old marriage thatís been going on since the birth of pop music and since the birth of jazz."

But on Stone and Keys, Goodrow likes the performers.

"I happen to think that theyíre both tremendously talented, and I think theyíre really good at what they do. I donít know if I would necessarily spend a lot of time listening to them," he said.

In the last two years Goodrow has found a decent following among the discriminating music fans in Philadelphia. In fact, he thought about relocating to that city, but Boston keeps him busy enough.

"Philadelphia is excellent," he exclaimed. "Philadelphia is fantastic, a fantastic scene. Thereís a group of music lovers in Philadelphia who will spend any amount of money to hear good music. They support their local scene. They spend their money in the right places. And they appreciate originality."

It can be said Goodrow gets around. Last spring, he took his four-piece band to the Caribbean Island of St. Barths, in the French West Indies. Bazbar, the islandís premiere nightspot, became home to the Evan Goodrow Band (EGB) for a few weeks.

"Itís a very small island. Itís a very small, rich, celebrity infested island. Iíve been all over the Caribbean and itís the best place Iíve ever been in," he said.

Goodrowís most intriguing project so far was last yearís 24 CD. The band, in a fanís Sudbury home, recorded an entire albumís worth of material in only 24 hours. The recording project was also filmed for a DVD to be released later this year.

"It was part of a project that was being developed for a reality TV show. It was a bargain going on with VH1, and in the end they passed on it, since they had another project, which is out right now. Itís called ĎRock Bandí or something."

The CD 24 has been selling well for the last two years.

The EGB will be on the road for a while. They have some tentative plans for Japan and Europe. Another studio disc will be released on September 15th.

www.evangoodrow.com

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