Friday, April 10, 2009

Bands in the Neighborhood: Tom Goss

This installment of the Bands in the Neighborhood series isn't a band, it's singer-songwriter Tom Goss. Goss lives in the neighborhood and has played around town, like at Wonderland, Nellie's, and Busboys & Poets, and has gotten heavy rotation on Logo TV and press in the Metro Weekly newspaper. Readers of New Columbia Heights may remember the song of his I posted on Valentine's Day. He's going on a 50-city nationwide tour until June to support his new CD Back to Love, and has an interesting backstory - he attended Catholic seminary, then came out as gay and left the seminary - Metro Weekly has more.

I conducted an interview with Goss over email a few days ago.

Goss first started playing when he got a guitar as a high school graduation present. "I was completely obsessed with Dave Matthews so I immediately started learning all his songs," he said. He said he's influenced by Matthews and other singer-songwriters like David Gray, Ben Folds, and Ben Harper, plus the Beatles. As a singer-songwriter, he talked about the city's scene: "I think the DC songwriter scene is a struggling but growing one. Historically DC has been a much more punk/rock/jazz/hip-hop town so songwriters tend to get lost in the shuffle. If you go to NOVA that's a totally different story. Luckly there are a lot of hard working songwriters in the city like myself, Michael Jantz and Maureen Nelson who are working to build the scene."

When he's not playing or recording, Goss works part time at Charlie's Place, a non-profit that feeds the homeless, which also influences his music. "Social justice has been hugely influential part of my life, especially the homeless epidemic in DC. Being someone concerned with social justice effects my music in the same way as being someone attracted to the same sex. It changes the way that I perceive the world, thus what I write about. Love and Justice, those are my passions."

Goss has a concise goal with his music: " reach people. As long as I continue to do that I will continue to write and perform." As for whether he is labeled as a gay musician and whether or not he embraces that, Goss had this to say: "I consider myself a musician, not a gay musician. That being said, I am a gay musician. As I previously mentioned I am interested in reaching people and touching people. There are a lot of people in the gay community that are searching for something different then what is currently offered to them. It's easy to see how GLBT individuals can resonate and find strength in the music that I write knowing it's coming from a gay man. People are going to label me regardless of my sexual orientation, that's just the business. I'm proud to be a well integrated, partnered gay man, if that comes with a label then so be it."

He considers his newest album his biggest success so far: "I'm more proud of this upcoming release then anything I've done thus far. The single for the new CD flew around the internet and had over 10,000 plays on YouTube in its first 3 days. I'm looking forward to getting Back To Love in people's hands." Goss says he hasn't pursued a record deal, because "in a lot of ways the idea that you need a record deal to be successful in this industry is over. If something comes along that is a good fit then I will consider it, until then I'm happy releasing and distributing my own CDs."

And finally, if he had to make up a band named based on something in Columbia Heights? "The Girard. That's where I live!"

Back to Love is out now, and you can purchase it at his website. Goss also has a Youtube channel.

Photo from his website


  1. I still do a double take when I get this guy's press releases. Don't meet many other Gosses.

  2. Haha, yeah, I wondered if you guys were related.


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