“Seriously!?” he exclaims as he notices Fred The Film playing on the TV in the corner of the room. “You’re watching this again!?” After a couple of drinks and a failed attempt to open the door to his apartment, Daniel (although he prefers to be called “the cool guy living downstairs”) abruptly stumbles into Cara and Naz’s house, and inserts himself into our Zoom meeting as we are just starting to wrap up. Upon noticing my virtual presence, he violently grabs Naz’s Goose-themed phone case, and presses it up against the computer screen as if my face were on the other side. “Everything is Goose with these two!” he passionately shouts. “Goose Goose Goose. ALL GOOSE!!”
One of the primary goals of The el Goose Times has been to focus on important figures surrounding the band. Accordingly, this new subsection focuses on arguably the most important figures in that category: fans. “It Burns Within” explores the lives of our own community members, shedding light on some of the reasons why so many of us choose to get involved with the Goose community, and how it affects our lives.
Cara Mitchell and Nazia Salam (Naz), both originally from Florida, have been roommates in Washington, DC for about seven years. They were introduced to each other at the wedding of a mutual friend, and they “danced [their] asses off” together the whole night. “It makes perfect sense that we met that way,” Naz says with a smile as she recalls the night.
Music has a prominent role in the everyday life of these two friends and their household. Whether it’s playing from Spotify, Nugs, Youtube, Pandora, or Bandcamp, their “Trevor Bose” speaker is on from early morning until late at night. “Music was always playing in my house growing up,” Cara reminisces. “A lot of James Taylor and The B-52's.” In Naz’s house, it was more Bollywood and Biggie. As the three of us engage in conversation about music from their childhoods, associated memories and autobiographical information emerge, which Cara and Naz share with me. It’s clear that music isn’t just mere entertainment for them. It’s roadtrips, holidays, family events, celebrations, meaningful moments, and a bonding point between them and their siblings. Naz mentions “Mehndi”, one of the many ceremonial events that take place as part of South Asian Muslim weddings. “Growing up, whenever a friend or family member got married, my mom would host the Mehndi event at our house. And it’s funny, now that I think of it, it’s somewhat like one big jam.” She goes on to explain that the focus of this event is music, and everybody present is a part of it. “We all sit in a circle on the floor, each person with their own instrument, and we just play together for hours and hours. Those were really fun for me,” she says as she reflects back on it. “The energy created at those events is actually very similar to what I feel at shows.”
As we continue the conversation, I enlarge the Zoom window, and make my computer screen brighter to get a better view. Cara, wearing a Billy Strings shirt, and Naz, wearing a Jerry Garcia shirt, are sitting on a cozy-looking couch, underneath a colorful, fluffy Grateful Dead blanket, bears dancing across their laps. In the bottom left corner of my screen, there is a Goose nalgene covered in stickers with the logos of bands like The String Cheese Incident, Greensky Bluegrass, and Tedeschi Trucks Band. And sitting on a shelf just above their heads, is a drumhead and a pair of drum sticks that are signed by the members of JRAD. One might think that these lovely ladies have been dancing through the scene for decades. However, their inaugural event took place in 2018. "Our friend had stumbled upon the Long Strange Trip documentary about the Dead, and we ended up watching a few episodes together. So when Lockn' popped up, we just said ‘what the hell, let's drive out Sunday.’" "We weren't even sure if John Mayer always played with Dead & Company." Cara chuckled. John Mayer. One of the only familiar names on the roster of bands that were set to play at Lockn' Festival. "That's how fresh we were!" "We look back and can't believe how perfect that whole night was. - Oteil side, with Brandford Marsalis… surrounded by so many amazing people.” “There are no words to describe what happened next.” Cara takes a long pause. “I’m not even going to try.”
Improvisational music opened up a whole new world for Cara and Naz. A world full of extraordinary experiences and emotions that were just waiting to be uncovered. “As soon as he hit that peak note, it was like my soul burst open or something,” Naz says as she tries to describe a moment she experienced that day. “It was a feeling in my body that I had never felt before. I was crying, the people around me were crying… It was overwhelming.”
There are a lot of factors at play during moments like these. One aspect of the sentiment captured here speaks to the overwhelming feeling of togetherness that exists in our scene. The joint attention, sharing of intentions, and affective states. The sense of fellowship and cathartic release. That “I know that you know that I know” thing. Through collective, intersubjectively shared experience, we begin to encounter something beyond our immediate selves. We begin to experience (though not always consciously) an essence of the human mind as it exists collectively. And for Cara and Naz, this experience was breathtaking, “to say the least.”
After that day at Lockn’, Cara and Naz embarked on a deep journey into The Grateful Dead, which then led them to JRAD, and Greensky, and Billy, and so on. “A friend of ours had been sending us Goose videos for a while. We knew we were going to like it, but we were already obsessed with multiple other bands, and we just needed some time.” Goosemas 2020 is when it all happened. “That was really our first time listening to Goose. And it immediately changed the game for us.” And it wasn’t just the music that drew them in. “It was the production as a whole. The outfits, the behind-the-scenes clips, the fact that they were playing on top of Rockefeller center… There was just so much heart and personality behind it.” “We just went ham after that.”
Quarantine afforded them the opportunity to deep dive into Goose, and they soon had a strong bond with the band and their music. So when August 2021 rolled around, despite their long-awaited trip to The Big Apple for Dead & Company at Citi Field, they made a last-minute sharp turn, and headed back to Lockn’ Festival grounds, where it all began. “Fred Festival was more than we could’ve ever asked for,” Cara says with tears in her eyes. “It was absolutely magical.” The two of them struggle to find the words to capture it. “All I remember is that drive home,” Naz says. ”We stopped at a Wendy’s, and we were just sitting there in this booth, staring down at the table like ‘what on earth just happened.’ I had no idea how I was supposed to just go to work the next day as if everything were normal.” ”We cried so much that night.” “There are truly no words to describe what it all meant to us. But we know you get it.”
And I do get it. A lot of us get it. Human beings have been exploring the social, philosophical, psychological, and cultural dimensions of music for decades, and there is a lot about music and the ways in which it affects us that we understand. Even so, there are deeper dimensions of music that we have yet to conceptualize, and how music takes on the significance that it does, as profoundly as it does, remains one of its great mysteries. “And I’m okay with that,” Cara says. “I don’t feel like it’s necessary for me to ‘know what it all means’ right now. But whatever is happening here, I’m just so grateful that I’m part of it.”
Goose’s performance accomplishes way more than just the immediate features of the performance itself. Goose shows serve as a forum for people to become immersed in the present, and provide an avenue for personal expression and meaning making. An opportunity for people to embrace any part(s) of themselves that might be suppressed by the social norms and structures of everyday life. “And then of course there’s that feeling. That feeling that we’re all part of this thing. That Goose is here for a reason, we are here for a reason, and it’s all connected. I really do believe that every single person present at a show is contributing to what’s happening. And it’s nice to feel like my presence matters.” Despite my efforts to contain them, tears start falling from my eyes. Hearing things like this never gets old…
The three of us could easily talk for several more hours, but the Sunday scaries are beginning to creep in, so I wrap up the conversation with my favorite conversation starter: “Are there any changes in your general way of being or thinking that occur when you’re at shows? And if so, is there anything you’d like to take from that context and carry with you into other areas of your life?”
“The lack of care for what other people might be thinking about me. The realization that nobody around me is even looking at me. The ability to take in all of what’s happening around me, and just be in the moment. The belief and understanding that what I’m putting out is love and wonderfulness, and that love and wonderfulness is what I will get back.”
“The ability to not be judgmental, and not think about being judged by others. The freedom of not feeling self-conscious. The feeling of letting go. The ability to be myself. It’s all a work in progress. But now we know that it is possible to feel all of these things. We just have to…” Sudden silence. Cara and Naz are frozen solid on my screen. I let out a melodramatic “Nnnooooooo!” and try to refresh my screen. Luckily, after just a few seconds, a sigh of relief comes through my computer's speaker. “Aahhh Sorry about that! We weren’t frozen. We thought somebody was breaking into our house!” It's Daniel, their neighbor who knows all too well about their feelings for Goose. Luckily we were just about done.
Note: We are not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected to Goose.
We just love the band and community that much.