The Goose is flying south for the fall. The four-piece improvisational rock band from Norwalk, Conn., will make its way to the River Street Jazz Cafe in Wilkes-Barre on Friday — just a few miles from the grounds of the Peach Festival, where the band in July played a well-received set that’s still paying dividends. The YouTube video of the group’s performance (which you can view below) has attracted more than 67,000 views as of this writing.
“We were overwhelmed by the response,” says Rick Mitarotonda (vocals, guitar). “We kind of could tell there was a buzz around the set. We’ve played in front of these larger crowds before but you never know where it’s going to land. Sometimes it turns out to be just a another gig, but after a few days you start to see this influx of people drawn to our social media channels. Peach Fest is still kind of vibrating and kind of got our YouTube channel going. It’s the first time we saw our YouTube channel clearly reacting and we’re still seeing tons of new people coming in, which is pretty interesting.”
Goose, which released its first album in 2016 and also includes Peter Anspach (vocals, keyboards/guitar), Trevor Bass (bass) and Ben Atkind (drums), is in growth mode. The band is working on new material — three new singles have been released, most recently “Butter Rum” — it continues to share a new, free, concert recording via its Soundboard Sundays and it’s gearing up for its annual hometown Goosemas celebration, with a sold-out Halloween show at Mercury Lounge set for next week.
Two years ago, Mitarotonda says, is when Goose really started to find its wings.
“In 2017 we kind of really shook it all out and started to figure things out,” he says. “We learned a lot of lessons of what kind of made we want to be and kind of made clear the values that we want to run this thing by. Peter joined the band for our holiday event from 2017 into 2018, and that really is what has kind of defined what the band is now.”
Mitarotonda and Atkind met at Berklee School of Music in Boston. The biggest common musical influence between the two at the time was jazz-rock like John Scofield and Medeski Martin and Wood. He also lists a popular indie rock band as an inspiration.
“Vampire Weekend is one band that we are both very fond of,” he says. “Basically, the idea of the improvisational thing married with some of the aesthetic of modern indie folk or Americana songwriter, whatever you want to call it.”
Friday’s Jazz Cafe gig is something Mitarotonda is looking forward to.
“I remember the first time we were there, I was taken aback by the sense of community there,” he says. “You never know when we get thrown into these places. You could sense immediately, even if there’s not a ton of people, you can sense when there’s a pocket and there’s a nice pocket of like-minded people who enjoy this music and get really excited and enthusiastic about it, and that’s a really nice thing.”
Goosemas — this year it’s Dec. 21 at the Wall Street Theater in Norwalk — started in 2014 “before the band was really a band,” the guitarist and singer says.
“It was small the first three or four years. It was at Factory Underground, which is like a studio, a warehouse that’s a recording studio,” he says. “It’s where we mixed all of our recordings, there are great people down there. It was really just a party. We did an all-in ticket, all-you-can-drink-and-eat booze and wine. By the third and fourth year we started seeing a ton of people that we didn’t know. There were zoning issues and it couldn’t really support the crowd we were bringing.”
The band moved to a new site, which Mitarotonda says has a lot of history — “the record we’re working is sort of roughly based around that whole thing” — but it has since closed. This year’s event makes a “big jump,” he says, to the 1,100-seat Wall Street.
But first, Goose has appointments to make, like the upcoming shows in Wilkes-Barre and New York.
“We’re just really excited for the fall tour,” Mitarotonda says. “Tickets are moving more than we’ve ever seen them move before, and that’s definitely exciting for us.”