Category Archives: bio

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.”

Why I put my work into the public domain

I put my Ghost Solos package, and most of my other recordings, into the public domain. Why?

One reason is compatibility. My primary goals include being used in soundtracks and mashups, so I needed licensing that allowed my work to be incorporated into as many other works as possible. Public domain is the only universal. The only license for creative works that is used widely enough to be considered a standard is a Creative Commons non-commercial license (like this one), but they are deliberately incompatible with many works.

Another reason is durability on the scale of decades and continents. On this time scale there will be very many individual licenses like Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported. Even the most durable will be superceded and obsoleted again and again. Someday there may be a standard of licensing for free cultural works that is as durable as version 2 of the Gnu General Public License has been for software, but right now there isn’t. If my creative work eventually became part of the cultural ecosystem, which is unlikely enough to be grandiose, I would be happy. To accomplish this it helps to make legal arrangements for my work that don’t rely on my active intervention, whether because I am dead, far away, or separated by language barriers. The public domain is the same anywhere and any time.

Another reason is to communicate clearly. My political goal is to enrich the public domain. My creative work enriches the public domain by increasing attention paid to the mainly-forgotten source compositions that are now available for anybody to use just like I did, and to a lesser extent by having my recordings themselves be sources for new works. I dedicate copyrights on my recordings to the public domain to be clear about what I am saying. A share-alike clause or a non-commercial use clause would muddy the message. Sometimes non-commercial licenses are used to express anti-business politics, which I don’t share. Sometimes share-alike licenses are understood to express anti-business politics (whether they actually mean that or not), and this is not my point. I give to the public domain because I take from the public domain.

Creative Commons was still an important resource for my goals, in that I used the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication to put my work in the public domain. It takes due diligence to manage the business of a public domain dedication properly.

I used to use licenses with share-alike clauses like the Gnu Free Documentation License, which I like because it works to grow the public domain (by encouraging disarmament like mine only when mutual). But no such license has been adopted widely enough to satisfy my purposes.

I suppose that so far I have answered every question but the main one: why not retain exclusive rights on my recordings? Because this is a fool’s errand for someone in my position. There are people who can sell recordings at a scale big enough to matter, but I am not one. The amount of time and money I spent to make these recordings dwarfs anything I realistically stand to earn. It’s laughable to think I’ll benefit more by clutching the rights tightly than by letting them go their own way.

None of this stops me from selling the work. It is for sale at the iTunes store, at Amazon, etc. I doubt many of those who read this will pay for it, but I think some others will who come across it there instead of on my blog. The buyers are welcome to have the recordings without giving me money, it’s just that I have to charge money to get the recordings into these distribution points.

SJI transcription

Saint James Infirmary blog has a kind post about this blog and the soupgreens project as a whole which includes a partial transcription of the O’Reilly interview:

I don’t think that people are going to play Beatles songs. I think the Beatles are going to disappear from memory – because they’re going to be locked away. You really can’t get to the stuff. And instead the music that was available for free use, that was under a Creative Commons license, that was very clearly in the public domain, or that was made before the recording era, I think that’s what people will be using. They will be doing the five trillionth cover of ‘Home On The Range’ instead of a much better song, like ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,’ because that’s what’s in the culture, and passing back and forth references to the same material but used in different ways. That’s what you’re doing when you’re making cultural artifacts. I think people will look back at these lost items and say, ‘These were such great songs! What happened to them?’

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).

Alvin and Lucille *new and improved*

I have hooked up a page on this site for my Alvin and Lucille jazz act. I wanted to give the music a home outside of the Myspace page, which never really got traction.

The best new features are:

  1. The MP3 player works.
  2. Better support for remixers via lossless (AIFF) versions of the parts in isolation.
  3. FLAC and Vorbis versions of the songs.
  4. Flickr slideshow.

To listen you’ll have to click over to the page.

Alvin and Lucille page

There’s now a Myspace page for “Alvin and Lucille”, the jazz act I do with Tequila Mockingbird. We needed an online identity, and especially a place to put our recordings online so we could do bookings a little more easily.

As always the music is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license to enable remixing and sharing. The mixes generally have the guitar and vocals hard-panned to the left and right so you can sample one or the other without any trouble. You could sing karaoke or use the guitar as a backing track for a sax solo by turning off the channel with the vocals. Or you could turn off the track with the guitar and snag some of Tequila’s beautiful voice as an a capella vocal for a remix.

The jazz material is a different animal than the Americana I do here, so I’m going to maintain this site independently, and I’m not going to link directly to the MP3s because I think they need to be a separate listening experience.

Tequila’s a killer singer and I think the music is great. Check it out:

Alvin and Lucille on Myspace

Rise of the multi-bio

Musicians must have bios. It is a rule. And if one is good then more is better, so my bio is going to be a bunch of blog posts within a “bio” category. Whenever I write about myself I will put it in this category.

Here is some biographical information: on the day I am writing this, I am 42.

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