David Gogo: Embracing The Wankage Factor

By Keith Sharp

Nanaimo B.C bluesman David Gogo calls it “embracing the wankage factor”, allowing his guitar solos to rip which is something he feels he achieved on his latest recording `Vicksburg Call, his 14th record in a career that stretches back to the early Nineties.

“It was a self-conscious thing that I would hold back on my solos when I am in the studio,” reported Gogo on the line from his Nanaimo homestead. “But that’s what people like about my playing, so on this record; I just strapped on my old Stratocaster and `let her rip’.  I recorded Stephen Stills’ “Jet Age” in just one take, just me getting into that live mode, cranking out songs that could go from a recording studio to a live environment.”

[quote]I’m a Blues guitar player, it’s what I do! – David Gogo[/quote]
With 10 new tracks which combine interpretations of classics like Neil Young’s “The Loner” , Annie Lennox’s melodic “Why” and Stills’ Manassas track, “Jet Age” along with Gogo originals such as “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda, “Cuts Me To Bone”, “Foolin Myself” which spotlights Savoy Brown’s Kim Simmonds and “There’s A Hole” featuring a harmonica solo by Shawn Hall of Harpoonist And The Axe Murderers, Gogo has succeeded in recording an album which balances traditional blues with more accessible blues-rock numbers.

The record title track Vicksburg Call was an idea generated by Gogo during a recent trip to explore the Mississipi Blues Trail which also sparked ideas for his previous record, `Come On Down’ which was recorded in Nashville. “I just wanted to write a song story around some town in Mississippi, so we picked Vicksburg and then we googled Vicksburg to come up with other nearby towns like Friar’s Point which is just across the river. It’s about this fella who meets this girl in Friar’s Point  and follows her to Vicksburg where he calls her but she doesn’t respond. It’s the only song I have ever written where I die in the end,”he laughs.

Gogo admits that he tuned into the Stills song from his little known Manassas project and he recorded the Neil Young cover of The Loner thinking it was a DavidGogo_PromoPhoto_byScottDoubt72dpiStephen Stills’ song. “Stills plays it on his `Illegal Stills’ record and he really rocks it (but not as much as me). It was only when I started putting the record credits together that I realized it was a Neil Young song,” he admitted.

Gogo says he’s always up for a challenge, like tackling Annie Lennox’s classic “Why” because he says he can find a blues element in virtually anything. “I think it goes back to when I covered Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” in 2002, people seemed to respond to my interpretation.

Gogo was thrilled to have legendary Savoy Brown guitarist perform on “Foolin Myself” and hot new harmonica player Shawn Hall of Harpoonist And The Axe Murderer solo on “There’s A Hole”. I stickered both names on the CD so with a legendary British Blues Rocker and a New Wave Buzz Band, it looks like I’ve got all my bases covered.”

Although Gogo hasn’t enjoyed the international success his work has merited, he is still proud of his legacy and feels he is improving all the time. “When I look at the fact that I have recorded 12 studio albums and two live albums, I think “Wow“, but I’ve been doing this for a long time and if I’m not recording and playing, what am I doing“.

In his defence, Gogo claims his songwriting is making in roads. “I pride myself on writing different set lists for each gig and when I checked out recent lists I noticed that 90% of the songs are original material,” he boasted. “I believe my own material is getting stronger. Playing guitar has always come easy to me but for the past few years I’ve also been concentrating on songwriting and my vocals. When I was younger, it wasn’t a priority but through living life and experiencing things , I’ve become more proficient in my songwriting.”

GretschA backstage meeting with the late Stevie Ray Vaughan at Victoria B.C’s Royal Theatre when Gogo was just 15 inspired his music career and one year later he was touring with his own Persuaders band, opening for Willie Dixon and Guy Rich and touring Europe with The Fabulous Thunderbirds as well as performing in Tom Cochrane’s 1991 mega hit album, “Mad Mad World”,  exploits that were noted by former Tragically Hip manager Alan Gregg who recruited Gogo as his next protege.

“Just a bad experience all around,” reflected Gogo. “EMI Canada signed me but their first mistake was to start chasing trends rather than let me be what I was. My reaction was, `Why the hell did you sign me, I’m a blues guitar player, it’s what I do! But they had me go to Seattle and record with this producer ( Rick Parashar) who had just recorded Pearl Jam’s 10 album. He was a great guy but we could have made a way better record if they’d just let me make a blues album.”

Ironically, when Gogo was arriving in Toronto, he tuned into Toronto’s Q-107 just as they were playing 453756477_640“It’s My Own Fault”, a six-minute blues track, he had recorded during their Top 10 at Ten slot. “Next day, EMI pulled that song  from Q’s play list saying it wasn’t indicative of my style of play. Now, why would they do that?” fumed Gogo. “The only reason I signed with EMI was because I was offered an international deal. Their A&R guy flies up to Vancouver to catch me at the Commodore Ballroom, loves the act but then he gets fired and his replacement wants nothing to do with me.”

Gogo moved on to sign an independent deal with Michael Burke’s Victoria B.C based Cordova Bay Records and has been there ever since, recording 13 records for the label as he’s toured backwards and forwards across the country with the occasional excursion into the States and Europe. I have my recording band; bassist Jay Stevens and drummer Bill Hicks, but I also have a band based in Ottawa and another band in Holland so when I travel across the country or to Europe I only have to pay for one plane ticket.”

Gogo also supplements his touring by performing solo, acoustic shows and is happy to note that while its the old guard who are the strongest blues supporters, there is also a younger audience discovering classic blues music. “It’s great when kids are going `What’s this band called Cream’. Most of classic rock is based on the blues, think of Led Zeppelin, but also some of the newer bands also have a strong blues influence. Listen to bands like The Sheepdogs, there’s lots of blues in what they are playing.”

Tour Dates

October 30
Duncan Showroom
Time: 8:00 PM $20
330 Duncan St,
Duncan, BC
October 31
Time: 8:00 PM $20
6582 Applecross Road,
Nanaimo, BC
November 6
The Edgewater Pub & Grill
with special guests Lucy Blu and The Blue Boys. Tickets at the venue.
Time: 8:00 PM $15
5830 Beach Avenue,
Peachland, BC
November 7
Rio Theatre
Time: 8:00 PM
1660 E Broadway,
Vancouver, BC
November 13
The Rainbow
Album Release Show. Tickets at venue.
Time: 9:30 PM
76 Murray St,
Ottawa, ON
November 21
Music Hall Food Co.
Time: 8:00 PM
Transfer Beach Blvd,
Ladysmith, BC
November 28
De Flint
Time: 9:00 PM
Coninckstraat 60,
Amersfoort, UtrechtNetherlands
December 4
Theatre De Molenburg
Time: 8:00 PM
Molenberg 11,
Delfzijl, GroningenNetherlands
December 5
Time: 8:00 PM
Wendeldijk 25,
Rotterdam, South HollandNetherlands

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