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All in the Family: Dave Gooding

Bluegrass musician Dave Gooding is delighted that his passion for music passed on to all three of his sons, two of whom have become members of well-known bluegrass groups. While Gooding has been the bass player with the Central Valley Boys for 13 years, his son Josh plays mandolin with the Little Roy and Lizzy Show, and his son John is a guitarist for Crying Uncle.

You could say that music flows through the veins of this family.

Gooding had been making music professionally since the 1990s with various groups before the Central Valley Boys became his main gig. After his second son was born, he asked his wife whether or not he should slow down in performing. They both decided he should keep doing what he loved, and they should incorporate their sons into the warm and welcoming bluegrass world.

"It's pretty much illegal to leave your kids home alone when you go to festivals," Gooding joked, "so we just started dragging them to the festivals. They were around a lot of picking."

While one of his sons learned to play music and has had his life enriched by it, he didn't opt to make music professionally. The other two grabbed on, and now young men, they've followed directly in their father's footsteps.

Gooding says being raised on bluegrass has been a substantial asset to all his sons' lives.

"I'm very fortunate they developed a passion for bluegrass and love it as much as I do," he said. "Our kids have learned so much," he explained. "Social skills…self-discipline… it's proven that math skills improve in school." He adds, "This is what we do as a family, and our vacations have always been centered around music. Even in the roughest times," Gooding explained, "we still have this commonality between us."

Music is the tie that binds.

He is reluctant to take all the credit for creating this passion in his kids; he also gives credit to the entire bluegrass community. Believing in the value of bluegrass and paying it forward to the genre that gave his family so much, Gooding serves as a board member of the all-volunteer California Bluegrass Association.

"My wife [Theresa Gooding] is now also the president of the California Bluegrass Association," he said. "We felt that we owed so much back to the community."

Not only do the Goodings think investing in kids is important in creating tomorrow's musicians, but the organization they support believes so.

"They [California Bluegrass Association] invest a lot in the youth programs," he said.

While it's doubtful he will get all his sons together this Christmas; he still has a hopeful wish. It is a wish tempered with the understanding that The Little Roy and Lizzy Show and Crying Uncle touring schedules will probably dominate the holidays. That simply goes with the territory.

"Hopefully, everybody will make it home for a few days for Christmas," he wishes, knowing the odds are against it. When performing is in your blood, you "get it" and find a way to accept what comes with being a working artist.

Gooding hopes "what comes" amounts to more of what he's done for decades.

"I'd like to think I'm gonna do this 'til I fall over dead after a set somewhere,'' he laughed. It's pretty clear, though, that his joke holds more than a small element of truth.

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