Mira Goto will be back in action Saturday at Michael's on Main.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
The Here & Now

‘Overnight, gone, all of it gone’: Singer Mira Goto was set to go big as the pandemic hit pause

Celebrated Santa Cruz singer/songwriter re-emerges to the spotlight after the pause of 2020, ready to resume her promising career in country music interrupted by the pandemic. During the pause, she took time out to become a mother.

As the spring of 2020 loomed, being Mira Goto looked like a pretty sweet deal. The Santa Cruz-based country artist had been bouncing back and forth from her hometown and Nashville for a few years by that point. And all that sacrifice was beginning to pay off.

At home, she had recently collected honors from the NEXTies and the Good Times. And on a national level, things were looking promising. A new collection of songs called “Nobody Warned Me” was on the horizon and a big marketing push was putting her on shows with Top-40 artists. She was even poised to appear at the four-day CMA Music Festival later that summer.

We all know what happened next.

“It was all good to go,” she said, remembering that time. “Then overnight” — she snapped her fingers — “gone, all of it gone.”

Mira Goto will always consider this more home than Nashville.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Like thousands of other performing artists — and millions of other Americans — Goto saw her life and career put on ice by the COVID-19 pandemic. In her case, she feels she was grounded just as she was about to attain lift-off.

As the pandemic begins to ebb, Goto is ready to resume her promising singing career and that means performing again. On Saturday night she gets her chance to connect with local audiences again with a live show at Michael’s on Main in Soquel.

She’s also just resumed traveling regularly to Nashville again. She has new music ready to release, she is booking more performances and courting country-music radio. Still, 2020 and its lessons are still resonating.

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She admits it took her a while to deal with the frustration of March 2020, but “you know, despite all that, I think we had a pretty great year.”

Refocused on the home she shares with her husband Anthony, “I learned to make a pretty good margarita.” She also went “a little bit nuts,” ordered an inflatable dinosaur costume and toured her neighborhood to make kids laugh. Most importantly, she became a mom, giving birth to a boy earlier this spring.

As for her performing and songwriting career, “I took it very personally at first, and then I realized that this isn’t happening to me, it’s happening to everybody. So, I was like, OK, nobody can tour. What’s my advantage?”

It turns out while so many other musicians were scrambling to learn about live streaming, Goto had been swimming in that pool for a while. “I already had the cameras and tripods and microphones that were sold out everywhere.”

On top of going big into streaming and engaging even more deeply with her on-line fan base, she outfitted a pick-up truck with everything she needed to do what she called “mobile concerts,” and she played anniversary and birthday parties throughout the year.

And the album release she was originally planning for August? She released it anyway, but in October. The EP “Nobody Warned Me” was produced by Ken Caillat whose career in the studio goes back decades — most notably, he was engineered on the great Fleetwood Mac albums of the 1970s.

“Nobody Warned Me” is a seven-song collection that kicks off with the title song, a seductive story in which the narrator leaves home for a distant city (reflecting Goto’s own first trip to Nashville) with warnings from her loved ones about everything but “not about blues eyes/not about a Southern drawl/They tried to warn me/But nobody warned me about you.”

“Fine” reflects on the heartbreak of a fizzled love, and “Anybody Else” bops along as a country-dance anthem to self-expression and individuality. All of the material was written by Goto, including “Next Life” a touching and heartbreaking what-if ballad co-written by her and Louisiana songwriter and performer Marc Broussard.

Mira Goto had her first child, a son, this spring.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

On top of giving “Nobody Warned Me” the tour support it didn’t get in 2020, Goto is planning the release of two more singles, one the first cover song she’s ever recorded, and another titled “Remember This Moment” made all the more poignant by the pandemic.

And, even with her now expanded young family, she’s planning to make herself heard in Nashville as often as her schedule will allow.

“I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, so that’ll always be where the cat lives,” she said, “and Nashville will be my visiting-for-a-long-time place.”

IF YOU GO

Mira Goto live at Michael’s on Main

WHEN: Saturday
WHAT: A dinner-and-a-show performance.
DETAILS: Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and showtime is at 8 p.m.