REVIEW: Dave Goddess Group in Back in Business at Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. — At this point in his musical career, Dave Goddess has music that relates to the lives of most adult listeners: from the carefree conquer-the-world tunes of his Daddy Licks Band to the resigned and insightful songs from his new disc “Back in Business.”

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Goddess and his Dave Goddess Group played the spectrum of those at his first-ever appearance at Godfrey Daniels on Friday – an hour-and-45-minute show of 24 songs (plus an intermission).

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Perhaps the surprise was that — at least for the older audience of 50 or so at Godfrey’s — the new songs may have been the best, and they hit home the hardest.

But perhaps the surprise was that — at least for the older audience of 50 or so at Godfrey’s — the new songs may have been the best, and they hit home the hardest.

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That was true from the opening song, “Beautiful World,” the very good title track from Goddess’s 2016 album, with its admonition that “I don’t wanna lose one more minute/It’s a beautiful world, let’s get lost in it.”

And the vibe continued with 2022’s “One-Way Ticket” (“It’s just a one-way ticket/enjoy the ride”) and the new “Someone Worth Waiting For,” which, even after all these years, was very much stylistically like Daddy Licks Band.

John J. Moser

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LehighValleyNews.com

Dave Goddess Group at Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem. From left, Robbie Bossert, Goddess, Mark Buschi and Chris Cummings

Elevated by enthusiasm

Those opening three songs were played by just Goddess on guitar with bassist Mark Buschi, but the reflective vibe continued when drummer Chris Cummings joined for “Dance While You Can” from Goddess’s 2020 disc “Once in a Blue Moon” — even as it became more emphatic rock, with the song’s Romantics-like “Hey!” chant, the audience’s heads started bobbing to the music.

And when the steel guitarist Robbie Bossert joined for the title track from Goddess’s 2018 EP “Last of the West Side Cowboys,” Goddess also added harmonica.

Some of the songs — even the new “Automatic Slim” — had a distinctly country sound, though that may be attributable to Bossert, especially on the slow, sad new song “Blessing in Disguise,” on which he was prominently featured.

The band closed its first set with a stronger “Wild and Willing” from Goddess’s 2010 disc “Something New.” It was elevated by obvious enthusiasm, Goddess standing splayed-legged while wailing the title lyrics.

But the band closed its first set with a stronger “Wild and Willing” from Goddess’s 2010 disc “Something New.” It was elevated by obvious enthusiasm, Goddess standing splayed-legged while wailing the title lyrics.

After a 10-minute intermission, Goddess and Buschi returned with “Tinfoil Hat,” then a very good performance of the new “Pretty Soon It’ll Be Too Late,” which Goddess described as “another one of those getting-old songs.”

But it clearly connected with the audience which gave it the night’s biggest hand.

John J. Moser

/

LehighValleyNews.com

Daddy Licks Band sax player Tom Brobst

Still making music just as good

Even better — probably the night’s best — was the new “Signs of Life,” about the isolation of life during COVID-19, during which Goddess said he wrote the songs on “Back in Business.” The song’s chiming guitar over a snappy beat captured its positive outlook as much as its refrain of “We’re on our way.”

Turns out, that was even better than the Daddy Licks gem “Tragic Flow,” for which that band’s saxist Tom Brobst came on stage to play – though that also was very good.

Also strong was the slow, country “Tears in Rain” from Goddess’s 2018 disc “Last of the West Side Cowboys” and another slow offering, “When the Past Caught Up with John Henry Weaving” from “Once in a Blue Moon.”

Goddess also offered two covers — Bob Dylan’s “The Mighty Quinn” and The Beatles’ “She Loves You” done as a country shuffle — that was good and showed his influences.

The show wound down with a run of new songs: “Calico,” the very good “Hey Romeo,” the title track from “Back in Business” – made stronger by the enthusiasm with which it was played – and the set-closing “I’d Do It Again,” the title of which makes its meaning evident.

But an encore of Daddy Licks’ “You Can’t Keep Me Out,” with Brobst again on sax, brought it all back to the beginning.

It showed that the music Goddess made back then was very good, but he’s still making music that’s just as good.

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