By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Brady Goss knows a thing or two about performing outdoors during the summer.
The 24-year-old Oregon native will do so again from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9 as the headline musical act during the seventh annual RIVERfair at Keizer Rapids Park.
By the time Goss comes to Keizer, he will have performed at a number of county fairs – including in Tillamook the two nights before – and other outdoor events throughout the summer. His RIVERfair performance will mark the ninth straight day of performing, with an event in Portland the following day.
“I picture RIVERfair as people will be gathered around, anticipating my songs and my show,” Goss said between sets recently at the Washington County Fair in Hillsboro. “People are going to be paying attention. When I ask them to clap along, they’ll be on it. I like to have people’s focused attention. Energy is a two-way street. You build off the crowd.”
As an example, Goss points to live performances of the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, who was killed in a plane crash when Goss was barely a year old.
“You watch Stevie do something amazing, then you see the crowd noise,” Goss said. “If there’s no energy, you have to build it. It feels a little forced. When it’s natural, you can do superhuman things and it doesn’t even feel superhuman.”
Goss was 5 when he started playing piano. He progressed musically from there and has since added vocals and guitar playing to his skill set.
Early on, his biggest influence was a great ball of fire.
“It was Jerry Lee Lewis initially,” Goss said. “I know every one of his songs and his recordings. As I learned more about music, I ventured out and started listening to bands like the Eagles and Stevie Ray Vaughn. I developed an ear for all types of music.”
Goss set about emulating the musicians he admired.
“Everybody steals licks,” he said. “I was stealing licks and playing to the best of my ability. I think John Mayer said it best when he said you develop your sound by failing to sound like your peers. Then you develop your own style that others can’t copy. As performers we always think we’re not good enough, but we are in the eyes of the viewers.”
Goss recalls one of his best performances taking place four years ago in McMinnville.
“The crowd was rocking, just loud for every song,” he said. “I played for four hours straight. It was just me. It was awesome. I’ve done several shows since then equal to that. Most shows entertainers play are not their dream show. But once in a while you get your dream concert.
“RIVERfair is going to be pretty damn good,” Goss added. “You just always put your best foot forward.”
Goss, who has put out two albums and hopes to have additional albums in the future with more original work, doesn’t necessarily have a set list of songs he plays on any given night.
“Usually I wing it,” he said. “I’ll make a smooth transition from song to song. It’s like hosting a live radio show. I try to make things flow right into the next song. I take on a different personality at a show, which requires two hours of me being an extreme extrovert. I’m pretty quiet in day-to-day life, but not when performing.”
Goss likes to perform Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” and likes playing his own songs, but mainly goes by his audience.
“I like whatever the crowd likes,” he said. “If they like it, I like it. I really do love all kinds of music. I’m not capable of playing it all, but I do appreciate it all.”
So how far does Goss want to go?
“It’s whatever I can get,” he said. “How far up can you go? I’m not looking for fame. People tell me all the time I need to do a show like ‘American Idol’ or ‘America’s Got Talent.’ I’m flattered, but I don’t know how well I could do. I know I have the know-how and stage presence to be a lot higher than I am. It’s just the climb. Maybe I will have that hit song. I’ll just take what I can get.”
RIVERfair is a one-day event at KRP on Aug. 9, starting at 10 a.m. Activities include a pie-eating contest, water balloon toss, face painting, a beer and wine garden, a pet parade with a costume contest, booths and performances by groups such as Ballet Folklorico, Buddy Paprock, Cherry City Cloggers, The Great Jazz Band and Pele I Moana Dancers. New this year is a junior archaeology dig.
There is also a Cruz-In car show at Schoolhouse Square from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cars can be entered by calling 503-949-8751. Proceeds from that event help fund the Jerry Bigler Memorial Scholarship, for those planning a career in the field of automotive mechanics.
Making Keizer Better Foundation puts on RIVERfair. More information is available at www.riverfairkeizer.com.