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John Gooding: Shaped By Lifelong Exposure ...to Music



If you’ve ever seen the Crying Uncle Bluegrass Band perform live, you surely know what it feels like to grin from ear to ear. The talent is palpable, and the hearty applause from impressed audiences is often resounding. Few groups can match this youthful ensemble in energy or enthusiasm.


The band’s website describes Crying Uncle as “a unique mix of Bluegrass, Dawg, Jazz, and original modern acoustic music.” Nominated in 2021 for an International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Band Momentum Award, the band won the Pickin’ the Pines Band Contest in 2018 in Flagstaff, Arizona. The band has opened for notables, participated in myriad festivals, and has been featured in a 2018 TEDTalk with Nashville-based singer/songwriter Phoebe Hunt.

John Gooding has provided the guitar for Crying Uncle since the current full lineup came together in 2017, and the things this young man has gotten to do so early in life are impressive.


“We’ve done a two-week tour of Finland…we went to France…we have another bluegrass cruise to The Bahamas in January…” he said, rattling off all the cool stuff. “This past summer was our busiest summer so far,” he added.

Part of that undoubtedly included preparing the release of a new album, the 13-track recording titled The Thing of Dreams. “It has a lot of original material,” Gooding said. “A lot more than on any of our prior records.”

Something else that’s quite original about the record is the building the band used as a “studio.”

“It was recorded in an old church,” Gooding said, adding that its “beautiful view” was among the many charms of choosing this spot to record live performances. The Old St. Hilary’s Church in Tiburon, California, elicited the perfect atmosphere of inspiration and sound. They’d performed a show there, and the location stuck with them.


“It has really beautiful acoustics,” Gooding said. “We just set up there and got the whole album out in three days,” adding that it is probably his favorite among the ones they’ve released.

The guitarist hails from a musical family and believes early exposure to the bluegrass world affected him at his core. His father plays bass and sits on the board of the California Bluegrass Association. His mother is the current president of that same board.


“It was inspiring to watch my father onstage,” he said. “I first started taking lessons seriously when I was seven. Then, the first band I joined was 35 Years of Treble…I think I was nine years old. We played together for a good long while, maybe until I started high school. In 2015, we started a band called The Blue J’s,” he said. That band also included his two brothers, one of whom now plays mandolin for The Little Roy and Lizzy Show.

Gooding said he had fond memories of a certain Christmas when he and his siblings all got great new instruments as holiday gifts…and they were electric. The boys plugged in and jammed away that Christmas.

“I think it was when I was 12 or 13, maybe even a little younger,” he recalled. “That is a nice memory…we were kinda stoked on new gear.”

Growing up surrounded by people whom all love music has shaped his world.


“It’s influenced just about every part of me,” he concluded.
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