Music has always been a significant part of my life; however, my music has been influenced by a number of significant events that have shaped who I am as an artist today. I started, as many young musicians do, playing rock and heavy metal. I learned the fundamentals early on and ...
World Music/Contemporary | Unclassifiable
Blake Goodwin: CombatiKa, Competitions, and the 21st Century Acoustic Man
It’s been a year lived at hyper speed. Twelve months ago, guitarist Kevin (Blake) Goodwin was starting to entertain the thoughts of entering guitar competitions. Fast forward and he’s the winner of the prestigious Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar competition, with his own studio, a label, an album coming out this fall, and a brand new video to trail it with the track “CombatiKa,” that’s a showcase for his outrageous acoustic skills.
View video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG6rjBEuKtQ
“I’d always played electric guitar, but the competitions were for acoustic,” Goodwin explains. “My background is metal, but then I looked at New Age fingerstyle, people like Michael Hedges, and by blending those things I developed my style.”
It’s fingerstyle playing, but not the way you’ve ever heard it before. Goodwin’s approach is percussive, startling, composed of riffs and rhythms and short, sharp lines that grab the listener. He makes the acoustic guitar electric. It’s a powerhouse, and “CombatiKa” highlights his formidable talents and strengths on the instrument.
“It’s all straight guitar,” Goodwin says. “What you hear is just me playing. There aren’t any effects except some reverb. No loops or anything like that.”
The video is just as compelling and impressive as the playing, with sweeping aerial shots of Goodwin playing guitar on massive sand dunes interspersed with close-ups and footage of troops in desert warfare.
“We used a drone for all the filming from the air,” Goodwin laughs. “We filmed it in the desert in California then completed all the editing in the studio. The whole thing cost less than two thousand dollars.”
It’s also a great calling card for the Fretmonkey Audio and Video Studio that Goodwin runs, as well as FretMonkey Records, the collective that he founded and helped to shape.
“Last year, after I won in Canada, I couldn’t seem to make any headway with record labels. I wondered how I could get my foot in the door,’ Goodwin says. “Everything I’d done, I’d achieved myself, and there were other fingerstyle guitarists who were in exactly the same position. We decided to band together and create something that would directly benefit the artists, that would help us. That’s how FretMonkey was born. It’s a collaboration between 20 of us.”
With all those things under his belt, Blake Goodwin has come a long way in a very short time. But reaching this point has taken plenty of work. The Conway, Arkansas native overcame addiction in his early twenties and now advocates for musicians struggling themselves. He pushed himself hard for years to develop and channel his guitar abilities. In 2015 he placed third in the Guitar Wars competition in Texas, then took several master classes with legendary guitar greats in hopes that he would learn from the best and simply be heard. And he believed. A late entry to the Canadian Fingerstyle Guitar competition meant he was just a stand-by contestant, but he traveled to Kingston, Ontario anyway. Luck watched over him. A no-show meant he had the chance to play, and Goodwin swept everything before him, grabbing first place.
Winning such a prestigious event has raised his profile and brought a string of endorsements, from Stonebridge Guitars, Vellone Guitars, Elite Acoustic Designs, K&K Sound, Elixir Strings, and Radial Engineering.
Yet, without something to show, that means little. But with “CombatiKa,” Goodwin bursts onto the global instrumental stage and marks him out as someone who’s arrived. The video benefits the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and releases on Saturday, May 28, during Memorial Day Weekend.
“I have family in the military,” Goodwin says. “I thought the piece had a desert feel to it, and I wanted to go beyond music, I wanted what I did to be able to help someone else. I want to create a social media push, a Thunderclap, to have people post a coordinated message about the video and the Intrepid Fund on launch day. The vets I talk to were thrilled at the idea of people helping them.”
“CombatiKa” is far from peaceful, a continent away from how people usually think of fingerstyle acoustic guitar. But it’s one future for the instrument, and Goodwin is going to explore that further on his upcoming album, Resonance/Dissonance, which will be released this fall.
“I call it my bipolar acoustic album,” Goodwin says. “Half of it’s going to be solo acoustic guitar, including “CombatiKa.” The other half will be dark electronica with guitar. Those five tracks will each have videos, a series of them that play out like a movie.”
It’s ambitious, but Blake Goodwin is a man with a very clear vision for himself and his music.
“In the year I’ve come to understand exactly what the Cinderella story means,” Goodwin says. “I’ve been given the opportunity and I’m taking it. Since Canada I feel like I’ve been in a race to do everything. But I have plenty I want to say. I’m just getting started.”
There’s the future to play for, and Blake Goodwin is the 21st Century Acoustic Man.