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Concert Review: Michael Monroe Goodman

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Michael Monroe Goodman
Credit: c.2016 KF Raizor (FourWalls)

Michael Monroe Goodman doing a solo show at the Maple Inn in Louisville, Kentucky on January 8, 2016.  He performed for three hours, singing his own tunes and several classic country songs.

Familiarity Breeds Inattentive Audiences

In some ways, Michael Monroe Goodman's 3 1/2-hour show (divided into two sets) at the Maple Inn in Louisville, Kentucky was a homecoming.  He has been at the Jeffersontown-area bar so much he even has a song about it on his new album, The Flag, The Bible, and Bill Monroe. 

That wasn't a great thing, though:  at times I struggled to hear Goodman's first-class country music over the patrons' conversation and the pool games.  (At one point, a cue ball flew off a table and landed behind Goodman's guitar case, prompting a good-natured joke.)  Familiarity can breed contempt (which may be why so few people were paying close attention), and this is an up-and-coming singer who should have your undivided attention.

"Maple Inn"

Michael Monroe Goodman sings about the bar he played in

Throwback, Traditional Country Music

Goodman, a native of Kentucky who now lives in Chicago, has a fine new album out.  He did several songs from The Flag, The Bible, and Bill Monroe, as well as quite a few from his other recordings....most of which, sadly, nobody's heard.  Goodman is a neotraditionalist (meaning he's singing country music, not the pop or rap or Bon Jovi-with-a-twang they call "country" today), and he proved it throughout his performance.  He not only references country legends ("I played some Waylon, Hank Williams too, I like Johnny Horton, now honey, how 'bout you?" from his song "Carrying On What Nashville Left Behind"), he plays them...and occasionally impersonates them (he did a spot-on Willie Nelson impression while doing "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys").  That's understandable, given that, as a actor, he's played Johnny Cash in a stage production of Ring Of Fire and The Million-Dollar Quartet.  His middle name comes from the fact that his parents were good friends with "Father of Bluegrass" Bill Monroe (as well as several other country legends) and named Goodman in honor of the legendary performer -- with Bill Monroe's blessing.

Carrying On What Nashville Left Behind

Goodman addresses modern country music in song

Fine Solo Set Despite a Cold

Battling a cold (or maybe what we lovingly call "the Ohio Valley Crud," sinusitis and allergies that seem to hit everyone at the state line), Goodman still sang with a strong and pure voice as he performed his own material as well as several country classics.  He paid significant tribute to Elvis, as it was Elvis' birthday, and also did three Dwight Yoakam tunes (Yoakam hails from Kentucky as well).  Other country legends covered in the evening included Buck Owens, Marty Robbins, George (Jones and Strait), and a beautiful version of Glen Campbell's hit "Wichita Lineman."

 Goodman is hardly a household name, and he's paying his dues in the small bars around the country as he promotes his new album (the early shows are just him and a guitar; however, the latter shows featured him with his band).  His fine "throwback" music, however, deserves to be heard, and I feel confident that you'll be hearing more about this fine singer, guitarist, and polite young man in the future.

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