Louis Cowboy Johnson and Goose Creek Symphony Players
Goose Creek Symphony is considered by many to be one of the most original bands of their time. Major record labels (Capitol & Columbia) of the 60s/early 70s didn’t know what to do with a band that played a mixture of rock and roll, folk, jazz and country with an undeniable hillbilly influence, a hippie attitude and a reckless sense of instrumental daring. They used horns and fiddles as well as effects and blended it with psychedelic rock and roll. The true definition of “Cosmic American Music”.
In the 70s they fit into a country rock mode, but they were more esoteric and versatile than many of their contemporaries and had more grit and a rugged, less commercial sound. They were/are a good time band that love to jam and stretch out regardless of the genre. They recorded three eclectic albums for Capitol, Est 1970, (1970) Welcome to Goose Creek (1971) and Words of Earnest (1972). All were moderately successful with the last boasting a hit single cover of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz”. In 1974 the band moved over to Columbia and recorded Do Your Thing But Don’t Touch Mine, which was their weakest to date thanks to an outside, unwanted producer. Shortly thereafter the band took a hiatus…. a really long one which lasted almost 17 years. Then out of nowhere they came back (and musically it sounds like they never went away), and lo and behold they sound almost contemporary.
The Goose Creek story brings new meaning to “you were ahead of your time.” Unlike many of the other bands from the 70s Goose Creek hasn’t mellowed or gotten more commercial. They aren’t resting on old laurels, if anything they’ve gotten looser and more varied. They found most of their old audience as well as many new fans. In the decade since they resurfaced they’ve played many festivals and released a slew of albums including, the superb live set The Goose Is Loose in 1995, which highlights their extended jamming. They’ve done the Acoustic Goose, as well as excellent studio albums, such as Going Home (1998) and I Don’t Know (2003). They’ve also released a couple of lost albums, such as Head For the Hills (recorded in 1978) and recently The Same Thing Again (one music CD and a bonus DVD). The latter was recorded in the mid-70s and essentially forgotten about for three decades. Ironically the title cut has Gearheart singing “If I could live my life over I’d do the same thing again, for 20 long years I’ve picked and I’ve sung.” Well, the band has gotten a new lease of life and while one could say they are doing the same thing again, it’s only in the term that they are playing great music that’s outside the norm and remarkably refreshing, and more than that they simply exude good vibes. Head for the Hills was released last October in stores and online. The reissue featured brand new packaging and a bonus track from the original sessions never before released.
The band still keeps an active touring schedule and enjoys a loyal fanbase similar to what the Grateful Dead and Jimmy Buffett have experienced over the years.