Crew films local teen band for talk show
By CHRIS GULLICK - Staff Writer
Article Launched: 12/28/2006 12:03:02 AM PST

Dan Goodson didn't intend for his sons to become famous, but Sawyer, 13, and Evan, 11, have certainly had more than their five minutes of fame this past year.

The brothers, along with friends Emma Blankenship, 12, and David Love, 12, comprise Jet Fuel Only -- a rock band drawing the notice of national media because of the way playing music has helped Sawyer cope with his form of autism.

Being in a band has also helped with Evan's speech impediment and with their younger brother Cameron's autism, too.

When the band played at Chico Theater Company Wednesday evening, it was being taped for the Rachael Ray talk show, concluding a day of interviews and filming that would be used as background segments when the teens appear on her show next month.

Joyce Mitchell, an independent producer from Sacramento, arrived in Chico early that morning, along with a camera and audio crew. They interviewed the band members and their parents at home and at school, she said.

Mitchell said Rachael Ray producers offered her the project and it excited her.

"This is a classic case of a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness," she explained, adding that she only accepts jobs that work for a good cause.

Recently, Mitchell has worked on films for public broadcasting, featuring issues such as child abuse, AIDS and heart disease.

She stood at the doorway of the theater, as the seats filled and her co-workers readied their equipment.

As people entered, everyone was required to sign a release form, permitting Rachael Ray producers to "use and reuse forever, and license others to use, my name, voice, likeness, and materials ... for any use throughout the world in all media now or hereafter known."

The audience included many Chico teachers, friends of the band, family members and other musicians.

Sawyer and Evan's aunt and uncle traveled from New York to be on hand.

"We've hit maximum capacity," Kevin Looker said, minutes before the 6 p.m. show. "We're turning them away now."

Looker, manager of The Good Shepherd's Studio, produced the band's demo recording of three original songs and many of his clients -- most of whom are under 18 years old -- were helping out with JFO's concert.

He introduced the band to 200 full seats and explained that for the benefit of the producers, they would play three original songs, then leave the stage, but that wouldn't really be the end of the concert.

Camera operator Ken Day and audio specialist Colin Day climbed around the stage, filming and recording the band and audience from every angle, including shots of Sawyer from the floor under his drums.

In the front row, Cameron sat on mom Julie Goodson's lap and danced his stuffed Barney to the beat.

"I'm impressed that a group of 12-year-olds has the wherewithal to do this," Marigold teacher Mary Schoenthaler said.

Eddie Love, David's father, explained that music has a special way of making a pathway for communication, something that schools should use more than they do.

Music has certainly opened pathways that were previously closed to Sawyer, who has a form of the disorder known as Asperger's syndrome, and Cameron, who has a more common form that delayed verbal development.

Since the band played its first three-song concert at Jay Partridge School in 2005, Sawyer's self-confidence and self-image has soared, and Cameron, who spoke only a few words at that time, is now chatting in sentences.

An article appeared in the Enterprise-Record in January 2006, about the way the Goodson family began making music as a therapy for autism and it came to the attention of People Magazine reporter Johnny Dodson, who visited Chico to write a feature story about the band.

The article appeared in the Dec. 11 edition.

Dan Goodson said he has been fighting off folks since then, turning down nearly everything, including the Geraldo Show, CBS Evening News, Inside Edition and a reality show.

"This is therapy for the kids, and we have decided to do just one thing at a time," he explained. "This looked like fun and enriching."

Staff writer Chris Gullick can be reached at 896-7760 or

BACKGROUND: Jet Fuel Only, a band of sixth- and seventh-graders, drew national interest because of the way they use music as therapy for autism.

WHAT'S NEW: The band will be featured on the Rachael Ray show and a crew spent Wednesday in Chico filming background material for the segment.

WHAT'S NEXT: The band and chaperones will travel to New York in January to appear on the show.