Four years ago Tasha Ghozali and Rob Goodfellow Sidle met at what, in retrospect, seems like the most likely of places: the Hootenanny.
Ghozali had recently started playing the Hoot after living in Jackson for almost a decade. She started talking with Sidle because, as he remembered, “she liked the bass I was playing.” The two began playing music together — Norah Jones and jazz, mostly — and began dating.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Ghozali and Sidle adopted four dogs and a cat and moved to Alpine, where they have a house that’s a seven-minute walk from the Palisades Reservoir. Like a tried-and-true musical couple, they also started a band, Tasha and the Goodfellows, about two years ago.
The two musicians (Ghozali sings and Sidle still plays bass) have since been working on making the band a household name. Last winter, they landed a major gig: a once-monthly appearance at the Silver Dollar Showroom.
This summer they upped the ante with an every-other-Thursday schedule of shows at the Silver Dollar in hopes of making their labor of love a project that will allow them to play music full-time.
Sidle said upping their game with the Goodfellows is all about “trying to make a full career out of it in Jackson.” That’s no easy feat in a small town with an established cadre of musicians.
At their show last Thursday, Sidle and Ghozali took a break from setting up for a few minutes to talk in The Wort Hotel lobby. As Rob ran to and from the Silver Dollar, where he was also sound checking, Ghozali told a story about going to Fort Collins, Colorado, to see Asleep at the Wheel.
She and Sidle had driven down to see the band, only to learn that it was playing in Jackson the next day. The two stayed for the show, turned around and drove eight hours back to make the local performance. They’re huge fans of the band because they hope to do something similar with Tasha and the Goodfellows.
“It’s like country with jazz parts,” Ghozali said.
She and Sidle are fine with playing country and bluegrass tunes to get people dancing at The Wort. They just want to add a bit of jazzy flair.
“Jazz is like music with …” Ghozali started.
“Jazz is cool,” Sidle said. “Music with spice.”
Ghozali and Sidle are the Goodfellows’ leaders and its two constant players. They’re usually joined by Derrik Hufsmith on guitar, Grove Miller on keys or Ted Wells on pedal steel and banjo as soloists, and Jason Baggett on drums. Chris Smith sometimes sits in for Baggett and guitarists like Bob Stevens or Brent Moyer occasionally sit in when Hufsmith can’t make it.
And, though she and Sidle met at the Hoot and she’s played there countless times since, Ghozali finds comfort in the band, knowing its setlists and knowing the way it plays. Sidle enjoys that as well but also thrives with the Hoot’s free-form, high-risk style of playing.
Playing that way, Sidle enjoys picking up songs on the fly. He usually does so with a cue.
“I usually ask Tasha to sing the first little bit of the melody, and that’s enough to jog my memory,” Sidle said. “It’s like catching a tiger by the tail.”
A long road
Ghozali, 34, and Sidle, 31, were both raised in musical households, but they grew up on opposite sides of the globe.
Born and raised in Medan, Indonesia, a city of about 2 million people in North Sumatra, Ghozali first learned to sing in a nontraditional way: karaoke.
“I had a microphone in my hand when I was 3 years old singing old-people karaoke songs,” Ghozali said. Her mother taught her to sing and her father, who passed away during her freshman year of college, was a big karaoke fan. He introduced his daughter to musicians like Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson. Later, in Catholic school, she sang in choirs and, when she was 13 or 14, began to sing solo.
While Ghozali was growing up in Southeast Asia, Sidle was home-schooled, living around the Mountain West. He got his musical education by following his dad, John Sidle, who became a longtime Stagecoach Band musician, around to gigs. The younger Sidle got his start experimenting with various instruments before settling on and devoting himself to the bass.
After Ghozali’s father died she was faced with a choice: remain in Indonesia with her stepmother or move to the United States, where her mother and other siblings lived (her parents divorced when she was young). She chose the latter, and ended up in Houston, which she hated because it so closely resembled Medan. It was crowded and hot.
“What’s the difference?” Ghozali remembered asking herself before she packed up and moved to Alpine, where her mother was living.
That was 14 years ago. Ghozali hasn’t left since.
Of those 14 years Ghozali has only spent the last four playing music locally. Tasha and the Goodfellows has only existed for two or so. She spent 10 years working a variety of hospitality industry jobs, including a graveyard shift at the Virginian Saloon, before stumbling into the Hoot, meeting Sidle and kicking off their joint music career.
But having done so doesn’t mean her or Sidle’s lives are any less busy.
Between Ghozali’s seven shifts a week at the Teton Pines and Sidle’s five or six jobs a week as a gigging sound man, there’s not much time left in the day. Asked when she sleeps, Ghozali said the answer was “rarely.” Sidle agreed, noting it was just part of the trade.
“It’s just kind of the nature of working in Jackson,” he said. “You gotta stay busy.”
In light of how hard it is to make it as a gigging musician in Jackson, Ghozali said many people ask her why she doesn’t move away to pursue music in a bigger city like Los Angeles. But between her and Sidle’s pets, house and musical career, she said the answer was simple.
“I don’t want to sacrifice what I have here. It keeps me grounded,” she said. “I feel pretty fortunate that I found paradise this young.”