When first meeting SAW board member Ron Goad one can’t help but be drawn in by some sort of cosmic energy. His passion and enthusiasm are contagious and his lust for life refreshing. But there’s more to this man’s story than his jovial remarks, warm smile and insuppressible enthusiasm.
I recently sat down with Ron over lunch and asked him to share a bit about himself and his impressive array of experience with SAW. It was a dizzying conversation at times as Ron tends to quickly shift between thoughts and stories from the past to excitement about one of the several open mic events he sponsors. And that’s how so many at SAW know Ron....for his unrivaled support of songwriters and passion to get them connected to venues and to one other. Though Ron describes himself as a “hell raiser, practical joker and juvenile delinquent”, those in the SAW community know him as a loyal supporter, passionate advocate, and a fun guy. He’s so supportive, in fact, that he is the only person to have received the “Most Supportive” Wammie five times in a row. (He’s actually been the recipient of that award six times in total.)
Mr. Goad is one of the few true natives of northern Virginia. Born and raised in Front Royal, Ron was attracted to music at an early age. He made his first public appearance in 1956 on a street corner as he performed an impromptu version of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” and a Groucho Marx song. His eyes grin with delight as he tells me that he received two quarters for his bravado. It seems a star was born that day.
Ron’s energy was well-suited to the drums, and he soon got his start playing in rock and roll bands in the 1960’s. While attending Madison College in Harrisonburg, VA, Ron organized a concert featuring The Youngbloods which Ron only did “because someone had to do it”. “The Riot”, his first band, enjoyed local gigs for several years. Then, in 1983, Ron and four of his friends from those early days formed “Nightmusic”, a band that has survived these 30 years and which Ron estimates has played at over 700 weddings. An early stroke of genius inspired the band members to dress in full tuxedos borrowed from a local school’s music department...a look that has become their trademark to this day.
Ron’s professional background reflects his quick wit and sense of adventure. Though he was at one time a Realtor, Ron’s greatest achievement was teaching high school
English in Fairfax County Virginia for 30 years. While teaching at Centreville High, he judged a Battle of the Bands contest in which Dave Grohl (who would go on to achieve superstar status as a member of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters) participated. He is still in touch with many of his former students, who undoubtedly have many stories to tell about their former teacher, the quirky lover of word play and bad puns. Ron’s passion for creative writing helped lead him to songwriting. His philosophy for songwriters, “To convert songwriters into cover artists and cover artists into songwriters”, sounds like the view of a man passionate about the written and spoken word. Ron’s view seems to be that we always have a little bit more to learn about writing, and that by studying other’s work we come to a deeper understanding of our own voice. Some of his favorite “voices”? Brandi Carlile, Lyle Lovett, John Prine, John Hiatt and Kris Kristofferson, to name a few.
Ron has been a SAW board member since 2002 and a SAW open mic host since 2004. He currently hosts three open mic’s: Brewer’s Alley in Frederick on Mondays, the Epicure in Fairfax on Wednesdays, and The Athenaeum once a month in Alexandria.
Ron’s philosophy on life is best summed up in his own words: “I love meeting people with potential and doing whatever I can to help them.” Well put, Mr. Goad. We are so lucky to have you in Washington.
--Written by Nicole Belanus, SAW Communications Director