QUADRIPLEGIC CANCER SURVIVOR GOOCH NELSON TEAMS
WITH 9-TIME GRAMMY-WINNING PRODUCER JOE NICOLO
FOR ‘TRANSCENDANT’ GENRE-BLENDING, BLUES-BASED COLLECTION
Critical Acclaim and National TV Attention Arrive
with Gooch and The Motion’s Comin’ Home CD
— First Artist on New Blacbird/Universal Label
“It’s a bit startling to hear Nelson’s deep growl expose his demons given his intensely positive outlook. … But for Nelson, there is no better way to handle pain and hardships than through song.” – ASSOCIATED PRESS
“Transcendent. … a message of hope instead of hopelessness.” – NO DEPRESSION
Need some inspiration? Look no further than The Gooch!
The release of COMIN’ HOME, the debut album by New Jersey’s GOOCH AND THE MOTION — the first on the newly minted Blacbird/Universal label — doesn’t just set the bar ridiculously high for blues-rock in 2016. It also is an aural testament to the indomitably of the human spirit, and the healing powers of music.
And it arrives with strong critical acclaim and national TV attention to an inspiring story with the musical goods to back it up.
Under the aegis of nine-time-Grammy-winning studio whiz Joe “The Butcher” Nicolo (Billy Joel, Cypress Hill, Boyz II Men), singer-songwriter Ryan “Gooch” Nelson has conjured a rip-snorting, foot-stomping collection of songs despite a personal backstory that seems right out of Hollywood. The Associated Press dispatched a profile of GOOCH AND THE MOTION that has since been picked up by the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune, among many others. Fox News Channel is preparing a feature package on Gooch, andNJTV’s award-winning One on One with Steve Adubato will be premiering a session with Gooch in March, the same month Philadelphia public radio station WHYY-FM is scheduled to air a special interview session.
In 2004, Gooch was in a terrible car accident that left him a quadriplegic. Five years later, he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Through it all — including the still-daily chemotherapy treatments that have kept the cancer in remission — music has been Gooch’s balm and salvation.
Not that it has been easy for the 30-year-old southern New Jersey native, who re-learned to play guitar by placing it on his lap and using a specially-fitted bottleneck.
“When I lost the ability to use my hands it was devastating to me — much more than losing my legs,” he says. “It really depressed me. It took me down.”
Two years after the accident, Gooch’s grandfather bought him an electric guitar. That, and the mix tapes provided by friends, enabled the healing process to begin in earnest. Throughout, he was writing lyrics, many of which dealt with his situation.
The paralysis was just the first of a bad-luck double whammy. But even the cancer diagnosis couldn’t defeat him — and music was again the antidote.
“It was nice to be able to go and play gigs,” says Gooch. “Playing really took my mind off the cancer and for the spinal injury, it was also paramount.”
Musically, everything begins with the blues for the inspirational singer-songwriter, whose vocal style is a classic swampy moan somewhere between the vocals of Dr. John and Tom Waits. Specific influences include Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi All-Stars and the late blues man R.L. Burnside.
But, Gooch notes, “I really try to draw from everything. And being from rural South Jersey, my music kind of comes out of a bluesy, Southern-rock-type sound. But I think you can hear elements of funk, hip-hop, a little country and jazz.”
That’s Gooch’s recipe for an album that No Depression raves is “transcendent” and “a message of hope instead of hopelessness.” THAT Music Mag says “Gooch and the Motion has seemingly bridged the gap between fantasy and reality by turning tragedy into a surge of success,” while Beehive Candy hails COMIN’ HOME as “quite stunning.”
Among the collection’s signature tracks are “Diamonds on My Windshield,” on which Gooch puts the iconic descending bass riff of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” in the service of a deep-groove blues gumbo; the heartfelt cover of “Sitting On Top of the World” by 1930s blues avatars The Mississippi Sheiks and “Devil Don’t,” the only song on the disc in which Gooch addresses his physical and mental states in the wake of his health battles.
COMIN’ HOME is not only about Gooch Nelson’s lyrical and musical prowess, but a wholly collaborative effort showcasing both the work of The Motion – a rotating eight-piece collective featuring several background vocalists – and a glittering collection of guests artists including Kenny Aaronson (Bob Dylan, Billy Idol, Joan Jett) on bass; Luke Carlos O’Reilly (Curtis Fuller, Dave Valentin, Fred Wesley, Steve Turre) on piano and organ; and Andy Kravitz (Billy Joel, Cypress Hill, Joan Osborne) and David Uosikkinen (The Hooters, Cyndi Lauper, Rod Stewart, Patty Smythe) on drums.
Gooch’s health issues are obviously an important part of who and what he is as an artist. But for Nicolo, they were pretty much irrelevant when he decided to produce COMIN’ HOME.
“When I first met Gooch I listened to him perform with my eyes closed,” recalls Nicolo. “I didn't want his condition to affect my opinion of his music. He totally sold me. He's so unique. There's nothing out there really like him. It's one of the finest compliments I can give an artist.”