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Thursday, January 29, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 34.0° F  Overcast
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The spacey charm of Rachel Goodrich

Rachel Goodrich is driving through the Carolinas on her first cross-country tour, daydreaming about Cuban food and halfheartedly wondering if she should pull off the road to avoid that tornado. But a goofy mind fog stronger than any funnel cloud has taken over, so instead she's just seeing where the breeze - metaphorical or otherwise - takes her.

This isn't unusual for the 25-year-old Miami songstress, whose whimsical songs featuring ukulele and kazoo have found a niche on the Internet somewhere between those of Raffi and Flight of the Conchords. Her 2008 debut, Tinker Toys, bears the stamp of someone who's immersed in quirk for quirk's sake, a quality that's both charming and childish.

Exploring the border between sense and nonsense isn't just a musical gimmick either. Goodrich's personality is both spaced-out and sunny. It's a state of being she likes, to the extent that she lists the Grateful Dead as one of her main influences even though her music sounds nothing like that of Jerry Garcia and company.

She is asked how the Dead's music has shaped her own. The fog quickly and conveniently takes over. She can't recall when she first started listening to them or what about their music she appreciates so much, but she can assure you she's a huge fan of the Dead experience.

"They relax my mind and really put me at ease," she explains. "They just always have this awesome groove going on."

Goodrich aims to create a similar experience for her fans, it seems, except that she uses different means to get there. While mood-altering substances might be the missing link between the two artists - especially if Goodrich's MySpace discussion of 420 Day is any indication - she sets the mood with xylophones, musical spoons and lots of hand clapping rather than epic guitar jams.

But don't expect all sunshine and rainbows at her Majestic Theatre show July 1. True, it's one of the venue's first offerings in a series of free concerts, and the price tag is sure to inspire some grins. But there's a shadowy side to the music as well. Kind of.

"A lot of the songs are sort of dark but are lighthearted musically," says Goodrich. "They're not dark like Megadeth or anything, but they've got this mixed vibe to them, something that makes you wonder, 'What's going on here?'"

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