Broad & High Presents: The Goldsberrys
Led by husband and wife team Jen Goldsberry (banjo) and Jamie Goldsberry (guitar), the Goldsberrys is a folkgrass band which mixes traditional sounds of bluegrass with folk storytelling. The pair first started playing together in 2005 in Live Oak, Florida and moved back to Ohio in 2007.
They continued to play in their community which led them to perform at Duck Creek Fall Campout. Today, the pair are joined by Chris Westra on fiddle and Eric Nassau on bass.
“Wondering” is a song about “keeping those we don’t speak to every day in our hearts and minds,” according to Jen. The band often thinks about people in their lives and wish to remind people that they are loved during their times of struggle.
By The Window
This track started as a dedication to Jen’s mother. While she was writing the song, she pictured her mother sitting by a window looking out to see flowering trees. The song opens with a message regarding her supportive parents and eventually transitions into a message for her children.
“Lonely Abyss” is about the times when people try hard to hold onto things like money, love, or jobs and waiting for things that never come to fruition. The song seeks to encapsulate the feelings of darkness and emptiness during these times.
Follow The Band
Meet The Musicians
Band members (from left): Chris Westra (fiddle), Jen Goldsberry (banjo), Jamie Goldsberry (guitar), Eric Nassau (bass).
Interview with Jen & Jamie Goldsberry, Chris Westra, and Eric Nassau of the Goldsberrys
The Origin Story
Jen & Jamie: Inspired by Suwannee and Magnolia music festivals in Live Oak, FL, Jen picked up a banjo in 2005. Jamie, a long-time guitar player, picked it up again and together we began playing old-time music (fiddle tunes and other folk tunes) while living in Tallahassee. We were surrounded by people playing this type of music and frequented open jams.
Originally both from Ohio, we moved back in 2007 and created a sound unique to us while raising two young kids. We did some open mics around Columbus, opened for a handful of gigs for friends, and soon after got asked to play Park Street Fest. That day, we got asked to play Duck Creek Fall Campout and the band formed in preparation for that gig.
Chris, who we met at Duck Creek the year before, was regularly getting together to play with us for fun, so we asked him to play fiddle, along with Tom Adams on guitar and Brian Saxton on upright. Jamie was playing mandolin at the time. The band members evolved for a couple years, but for the last two years and for two albums, the members are Chris on fiddle, Eric Nassau on bass, Jamie on guitar and Jen on banjo.
Chris: I was attending the Duck Creek Log Jam down near Logan. Jen and Jamie found me playing around a campfire with some folks and suggested I get together with them for a jam. At the time, I had no fiddle experience whatsoever. I was a classical viola player. They planned a small music festival in their backyard the next summer and we officially got together as a band shortly after. It took me a few years to get my chops on fiddle but I’m having a great time now!
Eric: I filled in when The Goldsberrys were between bass players. I didn’t realize I was signing up for a full-time job at the time.
What’s it like playing with your spouse? Does it lead to any interesting outcomes (or present unique complications)?
Jen & Jamie: It’s certainly been a fun journey and has added a unique element to our home and lives. Music is as common of a staple in our household as homework. We have band practice every week, and we play together as much as time allows throughout our busy schedules.
Our kids come with us to gigs and music festivals which has become a unique experience for their childhood. They think it’s cool that mom and dad are in a band. Our daughter is learning the fiddle so we feel that we are inspiring creativity for them.
The challenge is often time, specifically not enough of it. With two active kids and two full-time jobs, music often gets placed at the bottom of the to-do list, which causes some levels of frustration. We always want to do more, but can’t quite get there with the hours that remain.
Give us the lowdown on your sound.
Several of our songs start with a melody that Jen creates on banjo, as is the case for Wondering and Lonely Abyss. The lyrics are formed by Jen and Jamie, and then the song gets massaged and fully structured with huge help from Eric and Chris. They have incredible arrangement ideas. It’s a great joy to bring a new song to practice, lay it out there, and then see what they do with it. The collaboration which creates the final product is a very enjoyable and fulfilling process.
Which city in Ohio is your favorite to visit?
Jen: I love going to the hills of my hometown of Ashland. I also love Columbus of course, and cherish any hiking trail I can find across the state.
Jamie: I love my town of Columbus the most, but enjoy exploring all the beautiful spots in Ohio.
Eric: I love exploring Columbus. There is so much to do here that sometimes I feel like I am a visitor in my own city!
Chris: Columbus has it all! Personally I love walking through German Village, especially in the summertime.
How did you get into folkgrass?
Jen: The Suwannee and Magnolia music festivals in Florida. I attended them for several years, and was incredibly inspired by all the musicians, with special focus on The Avett Brothers, Donna the Buffalo, Railroad Earth, and Leftover Salmon.
Jamie: While living in Tallahassee, there was so much bluegrass and folk music around me, which easily sparked my desire to play it.
Eric: The Goldsberrys single-handedly got me into folkgrass. It’s a great blend of lyrical storytelling and musicianship.
Chris: The Goldsberrys. Before playing in the band, I listened to some folk music in general but had almost no experience working in the genre.
If you were given the opportunity to meet any musician/band, who would it be?
Jen: I’d love to hang and jam with Yonder Mountain String Band. A leader in my music discovery, I admire their songwriting as well as their wildly fun and spirited demeanor. RIP Jeff Austin.
Jamie: Bob Marley. And Paul Simon.
Eric: Robert Smith of The Cure would be fun. They were such a big influence during my formative years.
Chris: I’d love to talk with the Punch Brothers at some point! I love the way they can cross genres so easily and the amount of thought they put into what they do.
What’s your favorite drink at Rambling House?
Jen: Anything that the friendly bartenders wish to serve me, but lately I’ve taken a liking to whiskey mixed with ginger beer.
Jamie: Anything IPA.
Eric: Can’t go wrong with The Relentless Mule
Chris: The Relentless Mule
Check out more from WOSU:
Broad & High Presents