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Mandolin In Hand: Josh Gooding

Tennessee-based musician Josh Gooding recently (in July) got a great gig as the mandolin player with The Little Roy and Lizzy Show. While he’s been a performer for many years, it sounds like the new band is perfect for this time in his life.

“It’s been great,” Gooding said. “I’ve never worked with a band that plays as much. We go out every weekend. We’ve also played on the Mike Huckabee TV show. That was cool; everybody was enjoyable to work with.”

The devoted player hails from a musically-inclined family. His father, Dave Gooding, is a musician of many decades. His brother, John Gooding, strums and picks guitar with Crying Uncle Bluegrass Band. He recalls some early childhood memories of growing up around bluegrass in California.

“Dad had already been playing and going to festivals and playing in regional bands,” he said. Some of his earliest memories were of a band his father played bass for years ago, The Donner Mountain Bluegrass Band.

“They used to rehearse at the house, and I was influenced by it,” he reminisced.

He picked up his mandolin at the tender age of six, and unlike many who take some time to figure out which instrument will become a devoted and soothing partner through the twists and turns of life, he just… knew. When his heartstrings were plucked, they made the sound of the mandolin. It was the instrument played by his heroes, such as Bill Monroe.

“I’m just gonna start playing mandolin now,” he remembers saying to himself one day. And that…was that.

It wasn’t long before he was jamming for real with his siblings in a band they created named The Blue J’s. Gooding eventually moved to Tennessee, where he performed with various musicians, including the Alex Leach Band. He was with Alex Leach for two years, during which he recorded music and had his first foray into being on the road as a musician.

When not playing with The Little Roy and Lizzy Show, Gooding loves appearing as a part of the entertainment roster at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

“They have live bluegrass music almost every day, for ten hours a day, and at several locations,” Gooding said.

He primarily plays with one of the house groups, Dreamcatcher, but will also perform on a fill-in basis with other groupings and ensembles, including Midnight Run.

Gooding said he’s excited about a special event this spring: The Little Roy and Lizzy Music Festival, which is happening May 4, 5, and 6.

“We’re looking forward to that; it’s down where they live in Augusta, Georgia,” he said. “We play every day. There’s gonna be a lot of bands booked there.” The lineup now includes acts such as Marty Stuart and Rhonda Vincent.

His brother from Crying Uncle Bluegrass Band, John Gooding, is also supposed to come out for the festival.

“I’m excited to have him out here and see what opportunities we can pursue together,” he said.

When asked about Christmas memories he’d like to share, Gooding said he has a particularaffinity for the holiday compositions accompanying the well-known animated “Peanuts” Christmas shows.

“Me and my brother loved the Christmas music of Vince Guaraldi,” he said, explaining that he thinks those holiday classics are so good he’ll listen to them year-round. “I’ve been learning a bunch of those songs on mandolin.”

He enjoys the holiday season at his home in Elizabethton, Tennessee. He said it’s especially nice when snowing during the holidays.

“I live on a hill looking down on the town, so it’s really picturesque,” he said.

When asked about the future, Gooding sounds unable – or unwilling – to speculate. Part of the reason is he seems mighty satisfied with the present.

“I’m pretty happy with the way things are going now,” he said. “I’m really lucky and blessed. I’m fortunate.”
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