Forever Goldrush performs at The Side Door on Saturday, Feb. 10. The band, whose usual lineup consists of Josh Lacey, Grub Dog Mitchell, Damon Wyckoff and Shawn Allen, was padded with special guests for the night. (Photos by Casey Rafter)

Truly, Forever Goldrush

Popular Sacramento bar band releases first album in 11 years

Back Web Only Feb 15, 2024 By Casey Rafter

This story was written by a student journalist as part of our Media Makers Project. To learn more, click here.

Harkening back to a childhood raising hell in small towns in the foothills of Amador County, Forever Goldrush begins to play “Dirt Road Kids” from the band’s 2012 album release “Chambers,” elevating the vibe within the small KSSU radio studio.

A ceramic slide travels up the frets of Josh Lacey’s guitar as the song ends. “Going It Alone,” a song from the band’s most recent album, kicks up as Greg “Grub Dog” Mitchell syncopates on bongo, Shawn Allen studiously plucks his bass and then, on comes the gentle voice of the band’s storyteller, Damon Wyckoff.

The band’s been an on-again, off-again Sacramento darling, playing Americana roots rock since 1997. Lacey says he and Wyckoff have been partners in music since high school.

“We had a band then, and we had a brief hiatus where we kind of did our own thing, and then we came back together a couple years later,” Lacey says. “We’ve been playing music together for a really long time.”

The band’s lead singer and head songwriter, Wyckoff, admitted that though he and Lacey have to travel in from Jackson and Truckee, they still consider themselves a Sacramento region band because of where their earliest and most consistent gigs have been over the years.

“We started actually playing as Forever Goldrush in ‘96 at Kevin Seconds’ open mic at The Capitol Garage back in the day,” Wyckoff says. “Grub would be at Cafe Montreal writing songs before it was his turn at the open mic.”

Produced by The Mother Hips’ Tim Bluhm, Forever Goldrush’s new album “Moonflower Songs” was released on Oct. 14 and marks 11 years between studio efforts. Wyckoff says the connection with Bluhm and The Mother Hips goes back to early days when the two bands toured together.

“The band has had some years of hiatus,” lead singer Wyckoff says. “When we came back, we put a record out with Tim, so it’s kind of full circle.”

Mark Mitchell, talent booker for the Torch Club, says his earliest memories of seeing Lacey and Wyckoff play were in the late 90s when his own band Simon Feck shared gigs with Forever Goldrush.

“Back in the day they used to have the Thursday night markets on K Street when K Street was cool,” Mark Mitchell says. “We played with them down there … at Old I(ronsides), Press Club — places like that. I’ve known Damon and Josh since like ‘97, ‘98.”

For one song, lead singer Damon Wyckoff wears the “Peace Helmet,” made of deer antlers, chicken bones and blinking colored lights.

Forever Goldrush and related bands like Loose Engines, Fifty Watt Heavy and Danny Morris & The California Stars have graced the stage at Sacramento’s Torch Club many times. 

The current iteration of the band retains Wyckoff and Lacey, with Allen and Grub Dog joining the band about a year and a half ago.

Though they’re recent additions to the band, Grub Dog and Allen are no strangers to Forever Goldrush. Lacey and Allen attended Amador High School, Allen just a freshman in 1996 and Lacey in the graduating class. Wyckoff says he went to the rival high school.

“I’ve known these guys since I was a youngster,” Allen says. “They were the cool guys that had the cool band. There’s always been a connection in terms of where we came from.”

Grub Dog says he’s played with Forever Goldrush on and off over the years, rejoining the band on a permanent basis in 2022.

“I toured with them on the first record on a couple of big tours,” Mitchell says. “When they got signed and went to San Diego to work with Cargo Records, I didn’t do that record. On and off, I’ve played with these guys for pretty much as long as they’ve been playing.”

In addition to the new album, Forever Goldrush has teamed up with Rancho Cordova’s Claimstake Brewing to produce a few hundred gallons of “Chicken Bone Forcefield,” a west coast pilsner Wyckoff says is available at select Raley’s in addition to being on tap at the brewery. The beer is named after a track on Moonflower Songs which Wyckoff says is akin to a mantra or protective amulet.

“They’re music heads and Forever Goldrush played Kith and Kin Festival and a relationship blossomed from that,” Wyckoff says. “We sat down to talk about the show with them and Brian (Palmer, co-owner of Claimstake Brewing) was like, ‘Let’s make a beer.’”

Mark Mitchell says that after playing adjacent to the band in the time he did, he’s since been able to watch their songwriting and playing bloom. He not only praised Wyckoff’s voice and Lacey’s playing, he noted that Lacey builds his own guitars.

“They’re legitimate artists/songwriters and I just love being enveloped in what they’re doing on stage and how they’re playing,” Mark Mitchell says. “Josh’s guitar playing is just a thing to behold and to enjoy. These are artists that got a hand on something inside of us. When Damon writes a lyric, it resonates with the people.”

Forever Goldrush will be opening for The Mother Hips at Harlow’s March 22 and playing at Claimstake Brewing’s Kith and Kin Festival in Rancho Cordova April 6.

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