The blues will remain alive and kicking as long as musicians like David Gogo continue to play with a style steeped in respect and tradition.
They say you have to pay your dues in order to play the blues, so, toward that end, Gogo left his Nanaimo home at the age of 20 for Texas to soak up the music that had already permeated his soul.
He met the legendary Albert Collins after one of his gigs and when Gogo explained what brought him to the Lone Star state, Collins invited him to hop on the tour bus, even inviting him to share the stage during several stops on the way to Chicago, long considered one of the major crossroads of the blues.
During his career, which spans 14 albums and counting, Gogo has played with B.B. King, Otis Rush, Bo Diddley and Johnny Winter, as well as opening for George Thorogood, ZZ Top, Robert Cray, Jimmy Vaughan and the Tragically Hip. That’s more than a passing testament to the level of reverance fellow musicians place on Gogo’s playing.
The first time I saw him play was when he opened for Johnny Winter at the Alix Goolden Hall. Although I imagine it must be quite a challenge when you take to the stage knowing that everyone there is totally wired for Winter, Gogo won the crowd over quickly with a dose of tasteful tunes peppered with a self-deprecating sense of humour that came through in his comments between songs. “This next song is an original from my Juno Award-losing album” still makes me chuckle years later.
He also shared an amusing story about Winter’s reaction to binge watching the Predator movies on the tour bus that left everyone feeling they got to know Winter and Gogo a little more through the course of the evening.
I ran into Gogo outside GM Place a few years back when Joan and I went over to see the Canadiens beat the Canucks. He was wearing a vintage jersey while his son sported more current evidence of the generational passing of the torch that defines growing up a part of Habs nation.
He came across as a genuine combination of friendly and humble. We chatted about our team of choice for a few minutes, and I thanked him for a great show with Winter.
On his newest release, Vicksburg Call, Gogo shares the joy of playing with Johnny Winter and B.B. King, as well as the holes in his heart their passing left behind. The album also hosts an original, Fooling Myself, that features Kim Simmonds, a founding member of the Savoy Brown, for those of us old enough to remember that seminal band from the 60s.
I hope you’ll join me, the bride and a few friends in watching one of our own, Island-grown David Gogo, perform July 2 at EMCS Theatre.
Tickets are a ridiculously cheap at $25, with part of the proceeds going to support the Sooke Crisis Centre. Pick up your tix at Shoppers or the Stick while there’s still a few left.
Rick Stiebel is a Sooke resident and semi-retired journalist.