Meet Christopher Gold – Renaissance Man in a Growing Local Music Scene

Christopher Gold Appleton musician

If you frequent the live music scene in the Fox Cities and Green Bay, there’s a good chance you’ve already run into musician Christopher Gold.

You may have caught him performing solo at a coffee shop with his acoustic guitar and harmonica, in front of a rowdy crowd at a packed rock venue, or joining Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons on banjo and mandolin.

“I just love a lot of different kinds of music, I suppose. If I were any good at rapping I would probably do that too,” he laughs.

This month, Gold is releasing a new album of original bluegrass and folk music. It was recorded with newly formed back up band – The New Old Things – a group that’s made up of some of the best up-and-coming local musicians.

Christopher Gold’s talent as an original singer-songwriter and versatility as a musician is obvious. But not too long ago, he was more of a bystander than an integral part of northeast Wisconsin’s crop of entertainers.

So what happened? What brought him to where he is today?

From the Bluegrass State to the Fox River Valley

Gold is more than just another guy with a guitar and a love for music. Covered in tattoos, sporting a bushy, overgrown beard and usually wearing a blue flannel shirt – he certainly looks like an independent musician.

However, you need to dig a little deeper into his background to discover what made him the type of artist he is.

Gold says he moved around a lot as a kid, but it’s clear he has a strong connection to his birthplace, Owensboro, Kentucky. Gold is the son of a bluegrass musician so music was all around him growing up as was the opportunity for expert instruction and advice.

He started playing guitar around the age of 10, which is also about the time when his family landed in Appleton. He says he was writing his own songs at the age of 12 and began playing in coffee shops at 18.

During that period, Gold was exploring different styles of music. In an interview with, he talks about how he “swore off the acoustic stuff and only played in loud bands for a few years.”

Maybe it was a sort of an adolescent musical rebellion, or maybe he was just trying to find his own unique voice.

Gold eventually turned back to the bluegrass music his father loved and discovered a renewed appreciation of his own. Now he splits his time between being a boisterous rocker blasting out songs to a rambunctious crowd and being a more quiet and contemplative musical storyteller.

One of Gold’s first big projects in Appleton was forming and fronting blues/punk band The Dirty Rotten So & Sos.

“We were very loud and we had a lot of fun,” Gold says. The So & Sos also got involved in the community by hosting a fundraiser called the Dirty Rotten Toy Drive, which collected Christmas gifts for abused children.

He’s played drums in a surf-rock band called the Orange Iguanas, released three solo albums (not including his latest), and joined the hardcore band Misleader on electric guitar.

Christopher Gold with Misleader

Courtesy: J&R Entertainment

Plus, he often sits in with other Wisconsin bands – from Holly and Plastic to the RedHawks.

“With Misleader I really enjoy jumping around like an idiot and getting sweaty and being loud and providing an opportunity for the crowd to do the same.  With the solo stuff I really enjoy connecting with people and hopefully sharing something with them,” Gold says.

“It’s nice to be able to do different things to keep the other things feeling fresh. Misleader is a real treat sometimes too because we don’t write with traditional structures or anything like that so a lot of times it feels more like composing and just building sound, which can be an interesting challenge when you’ve spent a week or two writing folk songs.”

Gold recently paid tribute to one of his music heroes – someone whose tastes and career path somewhat mirror his own. Tommy Ramone – former drummer for groundbreaking band The Ramones – passed away this month. He also had a bluegrass duo called Uncle Monk.

Gold gave the late rocker a tip of the hat on his personal Facebook page:

“By inventing punk rock, then starting a bluegrass band, and producing at least one of my favorite records of all time, Tommy Ramone reminded us that you don’t need to be just one thing, and you certainly don’t need to be what people expect. Just be yourself. As purely and as often as possible.”

Making the Scene and Making the Scene Better

Christopher Gold is 30 years old now. It’s easy to see why he’s become one of the most sought-after performers in the area. But he didn’t get to be that guy overnight. He has been learning, listening, experimenting and practicing for the last two decades of his life.

Gold will also admit that good timing and a little good luck can play a role in any artist’s career. Here’s what he told the blog Music Art Writing.

“I don’t think people realize how much luck is involved in becoming a successful musician. The guy at Madison Square Garden may not be better than the guy playing at your local bar. He may have just been in the right place at the right time.”

You probably wouldn’t guess that living in Northeast Wisconsin would be an ideal place to launch a music career. But perhaps Gold’s timing couldn’t have been better. He may be hitting his stride just as something big is happening in the local music scene.

Some might call it a revolution. Some might call it a revival – maybe even a localized musical renaissance. Whatever the case, you can’t deny that there has been an upswell of original bands and performers in our area in recent years.

The fact that WhooNEW missed so many great groups when we wrote about 22 Bands Playing Original Music in Green Bay and the Fox Cities is evidence of that. So are the hundreds of bands being streamed on The Great Unknown – an internet radio station dedicated to Wisconsin-grown music.

You can’t talk about the local music scene without mentioning the impact that Appleton’s Mile of Music festival is having.

While the big draw may be nationally-known independent acts, Mile of Music also provides a major spotlight to a huge number of Wisconsin bands. The current list of Wisconsin performers scheduled to play during Mile 2 is quite substantial – and many of the other bands call the Great Lakes/Midwest home.


Grammy winner Rodney Crowell

Christopher Gold says it is tough to pick the best thing about his first Mile of Music experience. But there is one story he is sure will stick with him for a long time.

“I showed up to Lawrence Chapel for sound check and Rodney Crowell was still doing his,” he recalls.

“I found myself sitting on the side of the stage, in a gorgeous room, while Rodney Crowell, who is a legend, played a few songs with no PA and no crowd, just his songs moving through this amazing space.  It’s still hard to describe, but it was a beautiful thing.”

Mile of Music exposes local musicians to something unique as much as it exposes the public to all sorts of amazing original music. The festival connects area performers who have big dreams and creative ambitions with like-minded people who’ve already found significant success.

“I got to play for a ton to people that really wanted to hear music,” Gold says.  “I got to meet new people and hang out with old friends and really just celebrate what it is that we all do, and see it celebrated by others.”

Of course, success has been about much more than blind luck for Christopher Gold. It also has something to do with recognizing and seizing opportunities that come his way.

If you follow Christopher Gold on Facebook – you’ll quickly see that he keeps himself very busy.

One night you might find him playing in Green Bay at Frets and Friends, The Lyric Room or The Crunchy Frog. The next night he’ll be at home in Appleton performing at the Fox River House or many other Fox Valley venues.

“I like that each show is different and that they can range from really quiet and intimate to really funny and haphazard,” he says. It’s just something I feel really good about doing, so I try to do it as often as I can.”

His dedication to independent music, and a willingness to help out other bands is no doubt what caused Gold to become an important part of the growing local music scene. And he says it needs to keep growing.

“I like it a lot, but I think anything could improve. We could certainly use a few more venues, a few more tours coming through town, that kind of thing.  But like I said, I’ve met some of my closest friends because I play music in the Fox Valley.”

Making New Music with Old Friends

When the Buzzards Leave the BonesThe friendships forged at concerts and jam sessions ended up becoming an important part of Gold’s latest musical endeavor – his new album, When the Buzzards Leave the Bones.

It was created in a whirlwind and Gold depended on some of the musical connections he’s made over the years to help bring the album to life.

That list of collaborators included Bill Grassley fom Oshkosh’s The Traveling Suitcase, Alex Bruder of Madison’s Tiny Riots and solo artist Adria Ramos of Neenah – just to name a few.

Gold calls When the Buzzards Leave the Bones the kind of album he’d like to listen to.

Preview a Track from Christopher Gold’s New Album

“It was written in the span of about three months,” Gold says. “I probably wrote about 25 songs and then picked my favorites out of that.  We recorded it mostly live over the course of two days in June…

We were able to capture performances of entire songs and power through it all pretty quick. Then we went back and added all kinds of things like horns and strings and keys and guest vocals.  It was a really inspiring group of people to make a record with.  I think people will be pretty excited to see the list of people that played on the album.”

The result is a much fuller sound than what you’ll find on his earlier albums. The rest of the band seems to mesh seamlessly with Gold’s slightly gruff yet warm vocals and the laidback storytelling found in his lyrics.

The singer-songwriter feels strongly about the benefits of creative collaboration and supporting the work of other artists.

“Camaraderie and friendship can only make a good thing better. I think the more people view the scene as something we are all a part of, that we all benefit from, the better off we will all be,” he says. “Competition has no place in art so far as I’m concerned, so the more we’re cheering for each other the better.”

Christopher Gold and the New Old Things already have When the Buzzards Leave the Bones available for download at – where you can also stream the entire album for free.

There will be an official album release party in Appleton at the Fox River House on Saturday, July 26th. Daniel and the Lion from Baraboo and Fox Valley natives The Crowe Brothers are also performing. CD copies of When the Buzzards Leave the Bones will be available.

If you can’t make that show, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch Christopher Gold at 2014’s Mile of Music. His scheduled appearances include:

  • 8/7 3:35pm Stone Cellar
  • 8/7 6:20pm McGuiness
  • 8/8 1:40pm Dr. Jekyll’s
  • 8/8 4:00pm Jim’s Place
  • 8/8 8:30pm Lawrence Chapel
  • 8/9 4:00pm Frank’s Pizza Palace
  • 8/9 7:00pm The Wooden Nickel

Christopher Gold is looking forward to hearing music at Mile 2 as much as he is excited to be performing. He recommends folks check out blues-man Charlie Parr as well as indie folk duo The Milk Carton Kids. Plus, Gold hopes to meet many other music lovers in person.

“Come find me and say hello,” he says. “But most importantly, seek out some music that is new to you.  Your new favorite band might be playing in your hometown, so don’t miss it!”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Aaron Jankowski – Freelance Photographer

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