Category Archives: about

Bio as of January 2, 2012

Mandolinist, resonator guitarist, and singer Lucas Gonze plays the roots of roots music – vintage Americana from the civil war to the early recording era. It’s homestyle music, great for a barbecue, with flavors of bluegrass, early blues, and New Orleans jazz. It’s like a soundtrack to Deadwood, including the blood, mud and archaic dialect.

Part of his reason to play antique style is to contribute to the public domain. Gonze puts his recordings into the public domain (or Creative Commons), and limits his sources to old works which are out of copyright.

Gonze is no luddite. He documents his music (and other quirky americana) on a blog at His version of Doc Watson’s “Deep River Blues” has 35,000 plays on YouTube ( His “Ghost Solos” MP3 EP was covered on BoingBoing and has 28,000 plays on Free Music Archive. A popular source of soundtrack music for videos, his recordings have been used by the video blogger Ze Frank (100,000 plays to date) and many others. He is on YouTube at, on SoundCloud at, and on Freesound at

Comments on his music from around the web:

“Cracking player.. Lovely singing…”

“A forthright quality to that performance. It has the courage of it’s own convictions …loved it.”

“Fascinating hybrid picking technique”

“Wonderful, fancy picking on a greatsounding guitar!”

“Brilliant playing.”

“if yhu goin dance like thiss then yhu mightee as well ge freaky then….. yhu kno wat i meann!!!”

“Lucas Gonze was incredible. He figuratively knocked everybody’s socks off.”

“Love your work, bringing these amazing old pieces of American music to life, and giving us some great historical contexts about the composers. “

“This is awesome =^.^=”

“The songs are jigsawed together perfectly, and I don’t consider them especially gloomy. I would use the word “atmospheric”. Lovely.”

life happens

Since my son was born I have been on a new path.

In the mornings when the 4am feeding is over and before my wife gets up I find time to practice, and one night a week I go out to sing.

The practice time is going towards lap steel and dobro. I started learning steel during paternity leave. The pinky on my fretting hand is giving me a lot of pain, so I can’t play normal guitar without making the pain worse, and since steel doesn’t involve fretting it doesn’t need the pinky at all.

The singing is Sacred Harp. It’s a deep well.

Eventually I’ll have time again for gigging, music blogging, and recording. By then I’ll have a new instrument under my belt and probably won’t play much regular guitar. But in the meantime – hibernation.

2007 Digital Insider interview

This podcast interview I did with David Battino of O’Reilly about a year and a half ago predates this blog, but it’s a great explanation of what this project and site are about, so I figured I’d blog it within the “bio” category on Click through to read David’s notes, or, if you’re reading this in the context of, hit the play button to get straight to listening.


Cover Yourself (A Radical Approach to Copyright) | O’Reilly Media

swashbuckling interview on

Kevin Casper of LoveToKnow has posted an interview with me in the guitar section there:

Just when you thought you had heard everything the guitar had to say, a modern swashbuckler uncovers a plan for reviving historical guitar music. Los Angeles-based guitarist and folk music historian Lucas Gonze uses the internet to travel back in time to the pre-recording era of American popular music. Gonze visits the dusty corners of virtual libraries to rediscover the compositions of the19th century on a mission to both subvert stifling internet copyright laws and to bring life to forgotten musical artifacts that have been silenced for over 100 years. LTK Guitar sat down with Gonze to discuss the origins of his unique project and to learn how he adeptly brings this compelling music to life on the guitar.

This came about because he saw me play a gig and thought it would make a good article for guitar players.

Link: (PDF).

About this site

This site is primarily for my own covers of songs from before the recording era was really underway. The time period is roughly 1800, when American musical identity started to branch off from its foreign roots, to 1927, when the economic and technological conditions created by recording ended the era of participatory music.

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band broke in 1917. Piano sales went into the toilet around 1923. Louis Armstrong raised the artistic game to a point that excluded ordinary musicians during the period 1927-1930. Bing Crosby started singing in a way that wasn’t possible in an acoustic environment — too quietly to be heard without amplification — in the early 1930s. There was a transition from a musical environment where music was made in person to an environment where it was made far away. Before, the product was sheet music and instruments. Afterward the product was records and phonographs. This blog is about the musical world before that change.

Also I’m going to put up pointers to pre-recording low culture like burlesque, Thomas Edison, municipal corruption and crime, and to current philia like steampunk and civil war reenactment.

The site will be as participatory as possible given that it is ultimately a personal blog. My own music will always be remixable. I’ll point to sheet music repositories that I come across, so that others can play this music also. I’ll welcome submissions from friends and music from around the net, and whenever possible I will try to link up to other blogs and social media.

There will be material from the real-world Los Angeles music scene — clubs, bands, friends, and events. I’ll post about the act I do with Tequila Mockingbird under the name “Alvin and Lucille,” though a Myspace page Tequila is setting up will be that project’s main home.

To some extent this site has conflicting purposes. On one hand I need a brochure to promote my music and get gigs. On the other hand I just want to have fun with a silly premise. Maybe these needs will sabotage one another and force the project to go in one direction or the other. But maybe they will complement one another. We’ll see.

This site is not an indefinite commitment. Maybe it will end sooner, maybe later. And once it ends it will definitely become a brochure, though I can’t say what it will be a brochure for at at this end of the experience.

Lastly, this site may have an undercurrent of digital politics, but it will stay submerged. My other blog is for technology and politics. This place is for goofing off with fun stuff.

Soup Greens is a blog by Lucas Gonze

Soup Greens is the name of a musical act and a blog about old music.

The stage act is acoustic guitar instrumentals of American pop music from before the recording era. Here and there the act has singing. The guitars are a 1928 Gibson L3 and an 1890 parlor instrument.

The blog is this web site.

The person who does the blog and the stage act is Lucas Gonze, aka me. I live in Venice Beach, which is by the ocean in Los Angeles, California.

To contact me, send an email to