Good Times With GoodMan Fiske at Surf City Hotel

By SANDRA WEYANT | Aug 09, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

One thing is for sure: Anyone who attends a GoodMan Fiske show is going to have one hell of a good time. Guitarist Gene Goodman and singer Ryan Fiske formed GMF in 2005, originally as a duo, but after a successful first year together, the two decided they wanted to expand the lineup by adding a drummer and bassist. Goodman and Fiske still enjoy performing as a duo and often pick up gigs on Sundays together. A couple of months from now, GoodMan Fiske will be celebrating its 13-year anniversary.

The dynamic four-man lineup includes lead singer Fiske, lead guitarist Goodman, bassist Alex Staff and drummer Anthony Baker. Each band member wears many hats and can play multiple instruments. During the performance on Saturday night at Surf City Hotel, bandmates switched roles for particular songs and delivered a captivating and energetic set list of popular hits from the past and present, including “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughan and “Smack That” by Akon, which got the crowd up out of their seats in no time.

Goodman developed a passion for music in sixth grade when he was introduced to the saxophone in the school band. By eighth grade, he moved on to piano for a little bit, and by ninth grade, he discovered playing the guitar made him happiest.

“I picked up guitar, and it seemed to resonate with me more than the other instruments,” Goodman said. “I was about 16 years old, and I remember playing that whole summer and continuing when school started that next year. The music I listened to at the time had a lot of guitar parts in it, and I appreciated it. In my younger years, I just wanted to hear rock ’n’ roll all the time.”

Along with playing bass, Staff showed off his singing skills – en español. Yup, that’s right. Staff grew up in California and was surrounded by Spanish-speaking people, so he was able to learn the language very quickly. Similar to Goodman, Staff did not learn bass guitar first. He started on violin and then “fooled around with piano and guitar” for a little bit until he decided to stick with bass. “If you’re around it a lot, you pick up other instruments rather easily,” he said.

Guess what? It’s the same story for Ryan Fiske. “I started out as a drummer as a kid. When I was about 18, I started playing guitar. I actually met Gene while filling in as a drummer with one of his bands. I always could sing a little bit, but never really did it or pursued it, but then he and I got a gig and the rest is history,” Fiske said.

Fiske’s musical influences include “the late and great Chris Cornell,” Brandon Boyd of Incubus, Robert Plant and Pearl Jam. Even though Fiske has a deep voice, he is able to sing all different ranges and capture a variety of tones, making each song sound unique.

“It’s funny how we all started out playing something different than what we currently play,” Goodman said. “It’s kind of like ice cream. There are so many flavors, you don’t know which one you are going to like, so you have to start somewhere.”

Anthony Baker is a renowned drummer and also the founder of Crystal Roxx, a successful cover band from Philadelphia. Baker’s father, Freddie, was a major booking agent, and Anthony recently got off tour with legendary singer Chubby Checker, with whom he was a drummer and tour manager. Baker is the newest addition to GMF; the band picked him up roughly 9 months ago.

“He has been an awesome bandmate, and he does more than we expected. He fits right in, and we’re very happy to have him,” Fiske said.

The key to performing well and having fun is taking breaks and appreciating free time. Staff admitted that, even though he loves his bandmates, after spending too much time with them he needs a break. “For the first gig of the week, I’m hugging these guys, but by the end of the last gig, I need to get out of there and into nature.” Bandmates mentioned that Staff tends to disappear into the woods and turn his phone off for some much-needed quiet time.

“You can find him howling with the wolves,” Fiske joked.

All jokes aside, the band has fun together. In their free time, the guys like to schedule trips and group activities. They went to Six Flags Great Adventure and attended several concerts. “We’re talking about doing a canoeing and white water rafting trip soon,” Staff said.

Aside from music, Goodman devotes his time to his 9-month-old son. “Music is pretty much my whole life, along with daddy duty,” he said. “I’m also trying to learn more instruments. Right now, I’m working on ukulele and more keyboard stuff, and producing music, as well. I have music production equipment in my home studio to make music. I also do the programming for the lights on stage. I like to get my hands into all facets of it.”

To keep in tip-top shape for performing, Fiske is an athlete and enjoys being active. “If I’m not on the softball diamond, I’m catching a pass as a tight end in my weekly flag football league. I’m also the corn hole champion of 2012,” he said.

A tour highlight for GMF was its recent performance at Laguna Grill in Brigantine in which the group opened for original rock band Fuel. “It was right on the beach, so it was really fun,” Goodman said.

“Every place has its own cool vibe with different people, so it’s awesome,” Staff said. “You’re not doing the same thing every day. We don’t go to a cubicle and clock in. We get to see different places and different faces.

“I dig the road. I like being away. It makes you miss your family, but it’s cool to see new things. We love being down south. One of my favorite places is in Virginia. We get to hear the different accents and get some Southern hospitality. It’s nice.”

The farthest GMF has traveled is to the Bahamas, but the band hopes to extend north to Boston by next year.

GMF released one album in 2014, titled Uncovered, and is currently working on more original music. “We do play roughly 225 times a year, so to get original music takes a lot of time. We don’t have every day to dedicate to it. A couple of times a month, we get together and jam, but we try to do our individual stuff at home, too,” Goodman said.

“It’s a blessing to be able to do this. Everybody has a talent, but not everyone is able to embrace it and use it to their full capability and make a living. We feel honored,” Fiske said.

Visit goodmanfiskeband.com to see a schedule of upcoming events or book the band for a special occasion.

 

Set List Snippet

“Cheerleader,” Omi

“My House,” Flo Rida

“House Party,” Sam Hunt

“Too Close,” Next

“Hard to Handle,” The Black Crowes

“The Way You Do The Things You Do,” The Temptations

“This Is How We Do It,” Montell Jordan

“Closer,” The Chainsmokers

“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Justin Timberlake

 

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