Tom Goss had an obsession eight years ago when he graduated from high school.
''I was completely obsessed with Dave Matthews and his music,'' he says. ''And to take the obsession to greater lengths, I decided to learn how to play all of his songs on the guitar.''
And so Goss requested a guitar as a graduation present. He had no musical training and no prior experience, but he was hooked, and eventually started writing his own music. Now 26, Goss thinks his percussive blend of rock, pop and folk helps distinguish him.
Despite his earlier obsession, Goss had no designs on being a singer-songwriter. A native of Wisconsin, he actually moved to Washington to join the Catholic seminary.
''I was very moved by social justice,'' he says. ''I joined the seminary as a means to reconcile people with the church, most specifically gay and lesbian Catholics, as well as divorced and remarried Catholics.''
It didn't work out as he had hoped. After sticking to it for a year and a half, he left the seminary out of frustration. He now channels his passions into running a breakfast program for the homeless in Dupont Circle -- and even more into his songwriting. The former college wrestler and ''violent and aggressive child'' who ''never missed an opportunity to get into a fight'' says music has become the healthiest outlet for his passions.
''Now, instead of giving my energy, my emotion, my anger through fighting or wrestling, I do it through music,'' he says. Though it's of a generally moderate, pleasing disposition, his music sometimes betrays his aggressive past. ''I make a lot of noise when I want to, and I pull back.'' And while Goss says he practices no religion at this point, spirituality remains central to his outlook.
''Oddly enough, almost every time I write it ends up being about God,'' he says. ''I write using a lot of illusions.''
Almost immediately after Goss left the seminary over a year ago, he started dating his partner, Mike, who he says helped him become a stronger person.
''I haven't always been proud of who I am,'' Goss says. ''He's done so much to make me grow into a person who I am proud to be.''
Tom Goss is scheduled to perform Sunday, June 10, at approximately 2:30 p.m. on the Capital Pride Festival Mainstage. Time subject to change.