Goose Creek Symphony “est. 1970”

Est 1970

In the intersection of country and rock, sometimes  a band comes along who clearly bit the country bug enough to get the right chops, but for some reason not enough to take it entirely serious. To my ears, Goose Creek Symphony’s debut, Established 1970, has a an overly slack-jawed approach – perhaps a cool nod that this hillbilly thing is just for kicks.  But much like Ween’s brilliant Nashville foray, 12 Golden Country Greats, the music is too damn good to write off.

Charlie’s Tune exemplifies my issue: they sing a little like phony bumpkins with a jaw harp, though the guitar is choogling and it grooves just right, you’re still embarrassed to play it in public. Luckily their cover of Satisfied Mind reads perfect and may be the one of the best I’ve heard. Talk About Goose Creek takes the irony even further, however, the jaw harp louder, ‘home on the range’ lyrics cheezier, but the groove is even more infectious with some bad ass drum work taking things for a psyched out ride.

Mostly, only a few tracks are this polarizing. Beautiful Bertha and Confusion are solid stoned rockers, Raid on Brush Creek and Big Time Saturday Night both nail The Band’s americana strike zone, and closing ballad Symphony Music rounds out the record with breezy rural rock.

I have been totally split on Est. 1970 but finally given in, and hard. There is no way to disqualify Goose Creek’s authenticity, their Arizona/Kentucky roots are for real and they’ve stayed true to their boldly unique style for many years now. I guess I have had the same problem with the Dillards in that the singing can, sometimes, just sound too faux-billy (or maybe it’s records that open with I’ll Fly Away). All I’ll say now is I love the record regardless, and you be the judge.

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“Talk About Goose Creek And Other Important Places”

:D CD Reissue | 2000 | Goose Creek | buy from Goose Creek | amazon ]
:)  Original Vinyl | 1970 | Capitol | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

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  • Jason


    I am really glad you posted this record, it’s really underrated and seldom mentioned. I feel like the group didn’t take the project that seriously, as their tongues were firmly in cheek throughout the whole record – what were they mocking though…country music or psychedelia? There are still some great songs as you have mentioned, my favorite being the outstanding Symphony Music – a dead ringer for the mighty Band. I’ve heard the second album is also pretty good and some Gooseheads (yes, this is what fans are known to be) rate it as their best. Good well written review.

  • ro

    Hi all-I LOVE GCS! Thanks for the post. I’ve been looking for their song “Wayne County Tennessee” forever (I don’t even know which album it’s on…all my records were lost in a divorce years ago). Love the blog, keep up the good work.

  • Don

    This feels like a religious moment.I “grew up” with Goose Creek,i.e., same age, attending an “institution of higher learning” during the late 60’s early 70’s.Along with QuickSilver Messenger Service, Allman Bros., Crosby,Stills and Nash,Janice Joplan,etc,etc I loved this album, Est. 1970. The only problem I have nowadays is finding anyone else who has heard of it or listened to it .
    Count me in as an original Goosehead.It gives me goosebumps, still, w/o the aid of …you know.

  • King Ghidora

    If you think they’re “phony bumpkins” it just proves how completely out of touch you are with a large segment of this country. They are as genuine as it gets and nothing on their albums is forced nor is it poking fun at either rock, hillbilly or country music. They clearly like it all and what’s more they can make it all work together which is sheer magic. It isn’t supposed to work together but they showed us all how it does.

    I come from their region so I know full well that their heritage is legit. Not only that but they were the driving force behind a whole musical genre that has since become totally mainstream and has some well known converts. The whole “hot country” scene traces it roots right back to Goose Creek. They made country sound like rock and they did it well. Fabulous in fact. Other regional successes are Ricky Skaggs, the Judds, Billy Ray Cyrus and many, many others. All of them owe a lot to the Goose Creek Symphony

    You people, who are so tone deaf to my region, are obvious outsiders. I’ve heard Gearhart say we should build a fence around the region and not let anyone in or out. You would be left out and you would miss much because of it. You just don’t get our influences, our heritage and out contemporary situation. It’s your loss.

    The invitation to come out to Goose Creek to give you head some room still stands. If you’re tired of something new and you’re looking for something old this is the place for you. Come out to the country when the trees are all in bloom. Cleanse your mind and cleanse your soul and discover what you’ve missed. We’re the people of the Hillbilly Nation and we will never change because we don’t need to change. We’ve got life down as it is.

  • Brendan

    I apologize to his majesty. I should clearly have held back any reference to my initial skepticism about their hillbilly tone. Perhaps I didn’t make it clear how highly I respect the band and love the music, but I see now that a quick, cursory scan of my words above might suggest otherwise. From now on I will keep my mouth shut about music from regions of this country which I was not born in, and learn to idiot-proof my reviews.

  • Willard

    We recorded this album purely for our own entertainment with very few expectations that it would ever be picked up by a major record label. Personally, I was 17 years old and had a chance to be in a real recording studio and make original music with my new friends. It truly was my playground and has been ever since. I introduced the Jews Harp to the band. I thought it fit perfectly with the overall sound we were making. There’s been a Jews Harp on every Goose Creek record since then. As far as sounding “Hillbilly”, It’s supposed to sound that way. Charlie Gearheart is from a little holler in Eastern Kentucky called Goose Creek. He writes almost all of the material so it reflects his upbringing and his roots. We really didn’t know what the music would become as we were recording it. We just knew that it was special to each and every one of us. That’s why it has such a diverse mix of sounds and styles. I love the first three albums we recorded but the next two, “Head For The Hills” and “Oso Special” are my favorites. You should check them out sometime.

    Bob”Willard”Henke Guitar/Bass/Keyboards/Vocals/Jews Harp w/”The Goose Creek Symphony”

  • Ken

    I spent my teen years listening to and loving Goose Creek Symphony. The first song I heard from them was, Talk about Goose Creek and other important places, and I loved it. I listened to their first 3 albums over and over but have not heard much from their newer album. I would love to get the lyrics and chords for Talk about Goose Creek but having a hard time finding them. I would like to see Goose Creek come to Kelowna, BC Canada if they went on tour again. I believe they would be well received here in the Okanagan Valley.

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