Meet Wallowa County’s Rising Star, La Grande Observer
by Gary Fletcher. La Grande Observer
WALLOWA — Brady Goss doesn’t just tickle the ivories. His fingers are a blur across the keys. His electronic keyboard couldn’t keep up with Goss’ playing, so he had to invest $2,500 in a professional-grade keyboard that can.
Goss, 18, of Wallowa, would like to go into the music business after high school. He will graduate in the spring of 2008.
“I could live out of the back of my pickup if I had to, in order to play the piano, no matter how much money it makes me,” he said.
Goss’ fourth compact disc is a product of his senior project: to record, mix, produce and market a CD.
Goss is a natural at music. Playing the piano by ear came to him naturally at a young age.
“He sat on my lap while I played the piano, as had his older siblings Steve, Angie and Greg,” Brady’s father, Mike Goss, said. Brady, though, showed an interest in music at an early baby stage, Mike said. “It was more than just entertainment to him. I could see a whole different level of interest in him. He was mesmerized in what I was doing — intensely interested in what was going on. That was my first observation,” Mike said. “He started showing an interest before he could walk. One day he crawled over to the piano, picked himself up and stood on his toes to peek over the keys. He held himself there with one hand, and reaching as high as he could, he tinkled the keys with the other,” Mike said.
Another memorable day to Mike was when his son at age 4 was watching his dad play his old rock and roll songs. “When I was done he played the melody with one finger,” Mike said.
“When I came home from work he played the bass with his left hand. He had figured that out too. I was amazed,” Mike said. “That was another magical moment. I knew that something special was going on with him.”
Brady just continued to play. By the third grade he was taking piano lessons from Iva Lindsey of Wallowa. However, he didn’t like to practice the songs that she assigned him.
He was not interested in traditional music. “He just wanted to start rockin’,” Mike said.
“He wanted to play things his way. The old ’50s and ’60s rock ‘n’ roll and boogie-woogie that (before he was born) came out of the Memphis blues — that really got his attention, and that’s what he had started up with,” Mike said. Eventually Mrs. Linsey said that they needed to find an appropriate teacher — someone else to guide him with his incredible natural ability, Mike said. He later took lessons from Peter Donovan of Enterprise. “He showed me some techniques to add some of my own stuff to music to improve it,” Brady said. “But Peter said that (because of Brady’s ability) it was a waste of money to continue on with him,” Mike said.
Next they approached Margaret Bristol of La Grande. Her classes were full and she could fit no one else in, Mike said. “Would you let me bring him down, and I’ll pay you to just listen to him and give your opinion?” Mike said. After hearing him, she said, “‘I’ll make room for him,’ based on his unique talent and obvious ability to play what she heard,” Mike said. He also has an innate ability to picture the sound, Mike said. Later on when she reduced her number of students, Mike asked if she could recommend someone else for Brady, since he was a newer student. “Oh no. I’m keeping Brady,” she said. “She helped me a lot to learn to read some music,” Brady said. However, his father thinks that Brady would be right where he is even without lessons.
“It’s like Jerry Lee Lewis when he said, ‘Wouldn’t it sound better this way?'” Mike said.
Both father and son are huge Jerry Lee Lewis fans, and Brady has played a lot of his music.
But as of late he’s become interested in The Eagles. “They were ahead of their time. They opened my mind,” Brady said. Brady can’t explain how he does what he does when it comes to music. “I can picture the keyboard and know what sounds are going to come out of those keys,” he said. “I just hear it and figure it out. I have to do what I have to do to play it by ear.
“In some cases I just can’t wait to get back to the Internet to hear a certain song after hearing a song that I like on other students’ laptops — like John Mayer’s ‘Gravity.’ It was in a guitar key with a lot of weird chords that I had to listen to to figure out. When I had it all figured out in my head, I would add improvisation based on the structure.”
At age 16, Brady added singing to his act. For years his father had tried to inspire him to sing, but he wouldn’t do it, even while they were out alone riding in the pickup. At one point Brady said, “Dad, I can sing better than you. I’m not ready to sing. I’ll let you know when I am,” Mike recalled.
At age 15 Brady started singing along with the stereo alone at home with the blinds closed. “When I saw headlights, I shut off the music and acted like I was only practicing my playing,” Brady said. “I should have been singing a long time ago.” Brady thought that singing would enhance his piano playing.
On his fourth CD on which he’s working, “It especially shows, because the vocals were recorded separately from the piano in Janis Carper’s Enterprise studio. Carper has been his mentor, he said. “It was the first time I heard him sing,” Mike said. “I put on the headphones, and I didn’t even know who was singing ‘Be-Bob-Alula.”‘
Music is not Brady’s only interest. He pitches in baseball and is a linebacker in football.
As offensive right guard he received all-football league honorable mention last year. He also had a 4.0 GPA last quarter. “Baseball is my favorite sport. It’s a thinking man’s game,” he said.
It is said that he has innate abilities in other areas than music.
“Brady sees the big picture. He gets it better than anyone else,” said Jeff Parker who has the Highview Ranch outside Enterprise where Brady has worked for more than three years. “That’s pretty rare for employees. He is exceptional. He is as good as people with decades of experience.” Brady said it’s practice. “Like music, working cattle is a hands-on job,” he said. “It takes practice. You have to learn it. It’s like being a linebacker — you have to learn these techniques (chasing cows).”
Brady began performing at the Wallowa County Courthouse summer concert series three years ago. Then he began playing at Lear’s Main Street Pub in Enterprise. He played at McMenamin’s Pubs in Salem and Portland this summer. His biggest venue has been at the “Bite of Oregon” last August on Portland’s waterfront. Brady attracted the biggest crowd by far. And when he was finished, and a five-piece band took the stage, people started leaving, he said. In its 20 years, Brady has been the first person east of the Cascades to perform at the Bite of Oregon, Mike said.
Brady said that he may take a couple years off from school before pursuing higher education. And, he may not have to live out of a pickup. Something has happened that he and his father are approaching carefully. Brady has been offered a country-western recording contract by a Boise firm.