Friday, November 6, 2015

Chicago actor/musician Michael Monroe Goodman celebrating release of new album, will perform at Schubas

Michael Monroe Goodman has earned rave reviews for his portrayal of a young Johnny Cash in the Chicago run of "Ring Of Fire."

He also is a musician off stage, and will perform Nov. 10 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, to celebrate the release of his second album, "The Flag, the Bible and Bill Monroe."
Adam Lee and Tiny Miles also are part of the bill. The music starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10, available by going to Schubas' website at
I had the chance to talk to Goodman about the new album.
Q - Great talking to you. I recently interviewed Cory Goodrich, your co-star in "Ring Of Fire." What has it been like being part of the cast of "Ring Of Fire?" Has being a part of "Ring Of Fire" and "Million Dollar Quartet" given you new insight into the lives of the musicians depicted in those productions?

I wouldn’t trade my time with "Ring Of Fire" for anything in the world. We were a great big beautiful family and the show is one the most heartfelt shows I will ever do, I’m sure.

I already knew most of the history of Elvis, Cash and Sun records, but I knew little about Carl Perkins before joining "Million Dollar Quartet." Since then, I have read more about him than all of them and I feel a deep connection to him musically and personally.

In my opinion, he is the most underappreciated artist to ever come out of Memphis.

Q - What have you tried to bring to those roles? What do you think Johnny Cash would think of your performance in both productions?
I try my best with every acting role to be earnest. I don’t want to “put on” or embellish for flair.
I take my musical heritage very seriously, same as I take the art of acting very seriously. To impersonate someone as a tribute show is one thing, but for theater, you never want to do that.

It’s my job as an actor to keep it real and put myself in the role. I’m not sure what Cash would think of my portrayal, but I know he would be flattered by the quality of the entire show. 

Q - You've released your second album, "The Flag, the Bible and Bill Monroe." What is the meaning of the album's title? In sitting down to make the album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?

I thought one day, “I want to write a song that unapologetically stands up for the things I most believe in." In today’s culture everyone is offended by everything and people change their stance more than the wind blows.

The title track was my statement that these are the three beliefs I will never back down from or apologize for. Anyone who has a problem with that can kiss my ass.
My goal was, and always is, to make great music that everyone can connect with. I hope that is true with this new album.
Q - It seems like much of the album is autobiographical, such as the song "She Was Mine," which was written on the first anniversary of your mother's death. Do you consider this album more personal than your first one?

The album, as a whole, is very biographical. Although a couple of the songs on the album aren’t true stories (the rest of them are 100 percent true), all of the songs are very personal to me.
My last album was a little more concept, but this album is me being completely vulnerable.

“She Was Mine” was a very hard song to write. Everyone wants to write a tribute to their mother, but I couldn’t honestly put her on a pedestal like some songwriters might.

She was a flawed woman who, with a big heart, lived in pain. I dealt with that, my family dealt with that, but at the end of the day, she was the only mother I’ll ever have.
I think a lot of people can identify with that conflict. So, it was hard to be completely open about my mother in a song, but when I finished it I realized it might be more honest and heartfelt than any other tribute I’ve heard before.
I didn’t hide anything from the story. I didn’t say,“My mom was perfect, how could I not love her.” I expressed what most people can relate to by saying, “My mom wasn’t perfect, she was human, but she was mine. I will always love her”
Q - I understand your parents knew Bill Monroe, and you are named after him. How do you think he has influenced your music?
Bill was family to me. Being backstage at the Grand Ole Opry on the weekends was just routine.
It seems so surreal now and I’d give anything if I could remember everything I witnessed as a child. It was impossible to realize then how legendary Bill was.

It wasn’t until his funeral that I first started to realize his impact on music and the world. Bill was so warm and parental to me.
To this day whenever I hear his voice on a recording, it’s hard not to cry. His voice was resonating through me while I was still in the womb.
It could be a total coincidence, but the first time I felt the need to write a song was when he died and “Rosine, I Cry” was that first song. I have been songwriting ever since.
Q - What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think you fit into it? Are there other Chicago musicians that you particularly admire what they are doing?
I personally would love to see more allegiance to original music in Chicago. No offense, but I think it’s sad that party style cover bands draw more people than original music.
Granted, Chicagoans are very supportive of established touring bands, but there are a lot of great original artists in town that people should break their necks to see as well. Just saying.

I admire the Fat Babies and the Uptown Savages a lot. Not only are they amazing musicians but they are keeping big band music alive.
It warms my heart to see the young people that support them and their artistry. 
Q - Do you have any dream roles or collaborations? Do you need both acting and music in your life?
Well, nothing would bring me greater joy than to play Bill Monroe in a big budget Hollywood biopic. I think a well written story of his life would be a masterpiece that even those unaware of who he is could appreciate.
I hope to collaborate with Matt Woods and Adam Lee on a “Highwaymen” type concept album one day. As an actor, I would gladly star in anything directed by Mel Brooks, Tarantino, Scorsese, or Wes Anderson.

First and foremost I have realized at my core, I’m a storyteller. Whether that’s singing, songwriting, screenwriting or acting, I will always be telling stories. 

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