Aug. 25, 2005. 08:43 AM
|David Gogo’s “Hey Juanita,” a jaunty and infectious country-soul rocker, may be the breakout cut on his latest album, Vibe.|
This is not the first time Nanaimo, B.C. singer/guitarist David Gogo has shared a stage with his idol. On Wednesday night at the Molson Amphitheatre, Gogo opens for B.B. King at the American blues legend's 80th birthday bash at the Molson Amphitheatre.
"The first time was 15 years ago, when I was 21 and just starting to make a name for myself," says Gogo, who last year received the CBC Saturday Night Blues Great Canadian Blues Award for a lifetime contribution to the musical genre in Canada, and earlier this year
"Somehow I ended up at the Montreux Festival in Switzerland as an unknown `featured' act trading licks with Otis Rush and B.B., who was the first guitarist I ever listened to. His records were in
"He was such a cool guy, and he made me feel so comfortable. But I never followed through, and I haven't seen B.B. since then, except in performance. I don't know if we'll get a chance to jam together on Wednesday, but just being on the same stage again will be enough "
(Gogo and his band will also perform at the Burlington Ribfest on Sept. 2 with The Downchild Blues Band and the following day at The Atomic Blues Festival in Lindsay.)
Gogo took away more than memories from that meeting in Montreux. A well-versed blues guitarist with a lengthy repertoire of standards and a growing reputation as Canada's answer to American electric blues rocker Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gogo in 1993 was under pressure from his first record label, EMI, to come up with original tunes that might help him cross over into rock radio playlists.
"But I was having trouble. My own songs just didn't sound convincing to me, and I remembered B.B.'s advice: `Sing the way you speak, and you'll find your voice.' I took his words to heart, and on that first album I recorded a seven-minute bluesy original, `It's My Own Fault,' which wasn't exactly what the record company was looking for. But while they were out pushing the rock single, Q107 in Toronto started playing `It's My Own Fault' and the song stayed on its Top 10 most-requested "
That was more than a decade ago. Since then Gogo has opted to take control of his music by re-examining the blues under the auspices of the independent B.C. label Cordova Bay.
On his fifth CD, 2002's Skeleton Key, the guitarist began raising eyebrows by raising the blues bar. He raised it even further on last year's Vibe, his most successful CD to date, a mixed bag of original songs that includes a collaboration with Hamilton's Tom Wilson (Blackie & The Rodeo Kings) — the song, "Love in the City," made the national rock radio Top 30 — another with pianist Craig Northey (The Odds, Colin James), and two with expatriate Australian composer and producer John Capek, whose hits include Rod Stewart's "Rhythm of My Heart" and Joe Cocker's "Take "
But it seems Gogo's own "Hey Juanita," a jaunty and infectious country-soul rocker that recalls Warren Zevon and early Springsteen, may be the breakout cut on Vibe. It's already a favourite at live shows
"I've been trying to blur the lines, blending blues, soul, pop and roots music, because I see that it brings more young people under "Gogo explains.
"Now, I know this offends the traditionalists, the blues mafia, but I've seen too many 'official' blues bands wander onto stage, shout out keys rather than song titles, and play the same set as the guys
"If you want to expand the blues audience, it ain't gonna happen
"You just have to put in the work ... people come around in time. I'm lucky to be able to come across on both sides of the blues "
© The Toronto Star 2005