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A Conversation With Mike Goudreau




Mike Goudreau is an accomplished musician who brings so much more to the table. He not only sings and plays guitar, he also writes, composes and produces his own music. His songs have been heard on hundreds of network TV shows and films and he’s in demand as a sideman backing a ton of international artists.


Ken Wallis interviewed Mike Goudreau for the radio show Blues Source Canada. The following are excerpts from that interview.





Ken Wallis

Mike Goudreau has a new album out. It’s called The Isolation Blues and joining us to talk about it is Mike Goudreau…Mike great seeing you.


Mike Goudreau

Nice to see you as well Ken.


Ken Wallis

Is this really true? This is your 21st album?


Mike Goudreau

Yeah, it is. I know even writing it in the press release, I'm always a little astounded by that.


Ken Wallis

Is this album any different from your previous one> Is it an outgrowth or a complete change?


Mike Goudreau

I think it was the challenge of doing it in a different way than the other albums were done. I mean we've always home recorded in various studios but in this case because of covid and the restrictions I just couldn't make it to the studio. I decided to finally break down and do what I said I would never do, is to equip myself to be able to home record…so I got an interface…I already had a good studio microphone… I already had the Reaper program so I took a two-hour crash course with a friend of mine who's an audio guy so that I could record my vocals, my guitar, my bass. At first, I just said I’ll try it. I'll see if it doesn't sound like crap and if it's up to par then maybe we'll take it from there. So that was the first step and then I ended up writing and recording about 17 tunes…I think there's 14 on the album but I ended up writing about 17 tunes in about two weeks and a half.


Ken Wallis

How do you go about writing your tunes? Do you start with the lyrics first or do you just start with the music?


Mike Goudreau

It's different every time but most of the time it starts with chord progression…a guitar riff and then a subject... a song title or a song subject…that works good for me. So if I wanted to write a song about the Covid situation…being in isolation…missing the people you love and that type of thing. The title track came fairly fast…Isolation Blues. I had a riff and then I was like okay now I gotta try to talk about my experience and also try to make it so that it's not just about a musician's experience but anyone's experience being isolated and not being able to be with your loved ones or missing folks and missing things that you did and just getting a hug from your mom.


Ken Wallis

That really comes across with the lyric when you sing “It's been so long I got the Isolation Blues” and at first, I thought is he talking about not being able to perform as a musician but then I think you obviously had a much deeper meaning to it.


Mike Goudreau

Also, for my licensing partners I’m always trying to make the songs lyrically wide so that folks will be able to relate in different situations. It's all about the abcs of writing songs especially for tv and film…you're always trying to make the songs as broad as you can and that would have different meanings to different people. It's a little tougher actually writing songs like that because you got to try instead of making your songs really personal you got to try to make them a little more worldly so that folks can relate and find themselves in that or maybe be able to see themselves in the lyric.


Ken Wallis

So besides putting this album out, what else were you doing during the lockdown? I've talked to a lot of artists that got highly creative…they were writing a lot and composing a lot. Did you find that was the case for you?


Mike Goudreau

Personally, I wasn't very motivated to write and record until I decided that I was going to get equipped and start working on this album. I spent a lot of time cooking…taking care of my house…doing a lot of little odd jobs around the house that I've been putting off for a while. I did quite a few Facebook live concerts, especially when I found out that Socan could give you some royalties for performing. I started doing that…I did the first two or three concerts just for fun…I didn't ask for tips or anything else and I was getting like two three four thousand even some cases five thousand views on those videos. I was just doing it in my living room…a very simple setup…not even the studio sound… just the Ipad on a stand and I'd set up my little p.a. system as if I was doing a solo gig and just play a bunch of tunes. It's so weird…I'm sure you've heard this from other musicians that did this… but it's so weird to perform for no one…you're playing for the Ipad. After the concert…or even during the concert…my brother was there so he was watching the comments on Facebook and when you see how good it makes folks feel and it just gives them a little break from all the crap of the day-in, day-out stuff of Covid and how it's messing everything up. Just getting all the messages afterwards from just hundreds of people saying oh thank you Mike, I so appreciated the concert. It made me feel really good too and you know we play music because we love music. We play music also because we need to make mone…that's how we earn our money but the most important thing about music especially after you've been doing it as long as I have is the interaction that you have with folks and the energy that you get from the crowd when you're playing. You're giving and you're getting back and this really feeds artists. This will get you through doing two or three bad gigs in a row, but you'll have one good gig where you really connected with the audience and you're like all right I can do this for another 10 years.


Ken Wallis

I've certainly seen you connect with the audience several times at the Mon-Tremblant International Blues Festival and it's really sad that it's not happening this year…hopefully next year we'll all be back down there.


Mike Goudreau

They really did their best to try to keep that going this year but it's so complicated for these organizations…all these organizations work with volunteers and it's a tough situation putting the volunteers in the situation that they have to be like security people now because they could have to control the crowd and it just makes things so complicated for them. It's a shame but I do understand why they decided it's just too complicated let's just go for next year.


Ken Wallis

Well, that sounds like a plan. Who else is on the album who else is playing with you?


Mike Goudreau

Well, it's my regular drummer that's been with me now for about 12 years Jean-Francois Begin. He recorded all the drums at his house. I sent all the tracks to him and we started with the first two or three tracks I sent it to him. I said can you upload them and tell me how do they sound?... like crap or are they workable and so he loaded the tracks and he called me back a couple hours later and said Mike your guitar sounds great and your vocals sound great… after a little bit of compression… a little bit of eq he said to me it's broadcast quality…. I think we can work with this. so Jean-Francois did all the drums and my best friend for over 30 years now…a saxophone player Dany Roy did all the trumpet and sax. I usually have Maxime St-Pierre do the trumpet…he's been with us for 14 to 15 years but it was a little less complicated just doing everything with Dany plus Dany is one of the rare sax guys that actually is a fantastic trumpet player too. He played the trumpet and the saxophone parts from his place and then when we did get a little break from isolation at one point in the winter around January we had Pascal Veillette come in on harmonica. He did all the harp on the Acoustic Sessions album. I just love working with Pascal because he doesn't play the harp the same way as a traditional blues guy would because he plays like kind of Howard Levy style where he plays chromatic licks but he plays that on a diatonic harp and just because of his playing all these different types of music…traditional folk music, afro-cuban music and all these different styles. When he lays a track down on a blues tune, he doesn't approach it the same way as a normal blues harp guy. He came down for one half days and we got him to record three tracks and the other guest is a guy that I play with when I play in the States from Vermont. His name is Ira Friedman and Ira was equipped at home as well to be able to home record. He has a small upright piano and a Hammond B3 in his living room, so he was able to put mics in front of those instruments and record them.


Ken Wallis

Do you think this is the wave of the future? Will a lot more musicians start recording at home?


Mike Goudreau

Well we were already doing it. I mean on the Acoustic Sessions album I had a dobro slide player from the U.K.. …Toby Wilson…a great, great session player…Toby earns his living off recording from home on projects like that so it started with him. I thought the price was great and I was like for the price I’ll give it a try and he was he was so nice and so easy to work with…I was thinking hey this might be a new way to do it and it saves you some money…it simplifies things especially when the guys are well equipped and they know how to record themselves properly. They send you the track and it’s all cleaned up…there's no noise…all you got to do is just pop it right in the track and it just it saves a lot of time, Actually you have to know the player and he has to know what you want and it doesn't work with everybody. It's hit and miss a little bit so it's kind of a learning curve too and it was a learning curve for me too recording from home…learning how to save my tracks without screwing them up. When I first started, I think I lost maybe one or two complete songs when I was saving them so of course you feel like bawling after that happens but it certainly worked out well.


Ken Wallis

It's a terrific album and again it’s entitled The Isolation Blues by Mike Goudreau and Mike where can fans get a hold of it?


Mike Goudreau

The album is available on all the digital platforms. If people want to buy physical cds, they have to go through us. I'm not doing distribution anymore but if I wasn't independent, I wouldn't be able to do a lot of stuff that I'm doing so that's another double-edged sword. I get to license my tunes for TV and film because I own my recordings...I own my publishing and that's the only way you can do these types of deals…if you're signed with a record label or you have a producer or a publisher you don't have access to these people and these opportunities.


Ken Wall

Well Mike thank you so much for your time. It's been great chatting with you and I hope to catch you in Mont-Tremblant next summer.


Mike Goudreau

Let's hope so absolutely.




Website: mikegoudreau.com

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Twitter: twitter.com/boppinbluesman

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