A Baltimore native, singer and songwriter Karen Goldberg has quite a unique musical style. Over the years this extremely entertaining singer has had six nationally distributed releases on Corbett Records, six international tours (Austria, Australia, Wales, England, Denmark, Norway), and hundreds of US college and concert performances.
Some of her releases include Treading Water, Slipping Thru the Cracks, and Reflections: A Retrospective. Here, you can see some of Karen's work. She has appeared with 10,000 Maniacs, the B52's, Randy Newman, Carrot Top, Tom Chapin, Tom Paxton just to mention a few.
And to think that this artist may never even have given singing a try. It was serendipity that got Karen into singing when she was in college. On night on a dare, she got up on a downtown nightclub stage during the band's break and sang a tune. The owner hired her on the spot – and that was the beginning of her successful career.
Praise for Karen Goldberg: The Washington Post: Her "smooth soprano slides through tracks with assuring ease..." The Baltimore Sun: "A superb writer, composer, instrumentalist, sound engineer who avoids preaching and instead makes her points with wit, sympathy, and humor... Sultry voice and emotive lyrics of a Joni Mitchell with the charismatic sass of a Rickie Lee Jones." Concerto Magazine: Karen Goldberg has "fantastic vocals, arrangements, thoughtful and witty text...perfectly recorded and mixed."
Perhaps one of the most wonderful things about Karen is her deep love for Golden Retrievers. She had a beautiful Golden Girl Moka who has unfortunately passed away. Now she has a boy Romeo who keeps her company. To find out more about Karen Goldberg and her music, please click
. Read on to see what Karen had to say about her Goldens...
1. 1) Karen, thanks a lot for taking the time for this interview today. I know you had a golden you adored named Moka, and now you have one named Romeo. How did you and Moka get together? How about you and Romeo?
I got Moka from a classified golden retriever puppies listing in the Annapolis area. She was 8 weeks old and absolutely the sweetest and smartest little puppy. I remember the first day I had her, I got her to sit in a field and I said, 'stay.' I walked about 10 steps away and she just sat there looking at me for the longest time. Then I said, 'come here Moka" and she came bounding over.
I got Romeo from a breeder in Randallstown, MD. My vet had suggested this breeder because I'd had some health problems with my last two goldens (Moka-14yrs and Mercedes-12yrs,) and this breeder had a long history of very healthy goldens. Romeo was the biggest, fluffiest puppy, who wouldn't stop kissing anyone who held him. I'd wanted a female, but when I saw him, I changed my mind. He is also an English golden - boxier head, wide body, short legs.
2) As a successful singer and songwriter, you probably have to travel a lot. Do you ever take your Golden with you on a tour? Or is it more comfortable for him to stay home in familiar surroundings?
I ALWAYS took Moka with me on tour in the US. She was the perfect road dog - I never used a leash and she would walk right next to me, though the parking lots and into the lobby of the hotel. She was extremely well behaved, which is amazing because I never tried to train her; she just sort of understood me. She would come with me to many of my shows and lay at my feet on the stage, or visit with folks in the audience. When I'd arrive for set up, the first question I was usually asked is, 'Did you bring Moka?' She was more popular than me!
Of course I have plenty of road warrior stories too - like the times I had to leave Moka in hotel rooms and she'd rip up the bed spreads. I had to buy more than one ugly flower-print spread (you know - the kind in Days Inns - ugh.)
Or the times I had to sneak her into hotels that didn't permit pets. I actually wrote a song called 'Sneakin' on my 6th CD, TREADING WATER, describing one of those episodes.
Romeo came into my life after I stopped touring. He is no where close to as obedient as Moka was, and doesn't like riding in the car. But I teach guitar out of my house now and he keeps every kid, their siblings, and parents company before, during, and after the lessons. Some kids come earlier just to play with him.
3) How would you define your relationship with Romeo? Best friend, child, equal? Or is he the boss...?
Romeo is my baby (all 90 lbs of him...) I'm single, live alone, and work out of my house. So I'm home all the time and we are constant companions. He sleeps in my bed and follows me around the house. I live adjacent to a farm and have a large fenced in yard where you have a clear view of horses and goats, which he talks to all the time. He sheds like a madman. I've gone through three vacuum cleaners.
4) Have any or your lyrics been inspired by Goldens? Do you sometimes test out new songs on Romeo? I bet he's a fantastic listener!!
I wrote a song called Sovereignty, inspired by my first golden, Mercedes, and then my tune, Sneakin which I mentioned earlier. I also write songs about a variety of animal rights issues. 'Strings of Wings' is an anti hunting song, ' 'In the Name of Progress' is an anti animal experiments song, and my most popular song is called, 'What if a Cow ate you?' about a variety of animal issues.
5) What are some of your favorite things to do together with Romeo?
There's nothing in particular - i just love being with him.
6) If you had to pick one favorite characteristic of Romeo's that you love, which one would it be and why? (This is probably the toughest question--it's so difficult to pick just one of the many amazing qualities these dogs are blessed with)!
He loves people. And other dogs. He can be very playful, yet has this wonderful ability to be really calm and still.
When a student arrives, they know they're going to get this joyous greeting from him. If you sit on the couch he'll lay on your feet, or if you invite him up, he'll lay across your lap and lick your face until you tell him to stop. He seems to sense who needs him to be calm and who likes him to be playful.
But one of the most endearing characteristics is his respect of boundaries. I could put a piece of string across a doorway and he won't go past. I could put a sock on the bed and he won't go up. He also will wait to be offered food. I can leave a plate of food well w/in reach and he won't touch it, unless I say, 'It's OK, go ahead!" Not sure why he does this. I never taught him to do this stuff.
I love all kinds of animals, but there's something special for me about Golden Retrievers. We seem to 'get' each other in a more profound way.
7) Is there anything else your would like to share about Moka or Romeo? (Any funny story, any memorable incident...)
Romeo knows the phrase, "where's my newspaper?" I never taught it to him, but somehow, he got that the newspaper is this rolled up item in a plastic bag. I didn't know he knew the phrase until one morning, when I couldn't find it. I said outloud to myself, 'where's my newspaper?" and darn if he didn't find it and bring it into the kitchen and drop it on the floor at my feet! Now,I can hide it anywhere in the house and say, "where's my newspaper?" and he'll disappear for a few minutes and come back w/ it in his mouth. Always knocks me out when he does that.
Karen, I really want to thank you again for taking the time to answer some questions about your Goldens. I'm sure our readers will really enjoy hearing about your experiences.