ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 2, 1991
By Steve Newton
A lot of people dream about meeting their favourite musicians, and sometimes those dreams even come true. For this scribbler, that first magic moment came when I ran into Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham at the Pacific Coliseum back in ’78. After his band had opened for (and blown away) Styx, Gorham was hanging out in front of a concession stand, watching the headliner, and I walked up all slack-jawed and fawning. He offered me his last Marlboro (which I took as a souvenir), led me backstage, handed me a Thin Lizzy mirror badge, and left me to watch the rest of the show from the side of the stage.
I was high for about three days.
Persuaders guitarist Dave Gogo had a similarly unforgettable experience when, at the age of 14, he made a pilgrimage from his Nanaimo home to see Stevie Ray Vaughan play in Victoria.
“That was the first time Stevie came up here,” says Gogo, scrunched up in the corner of a claustrophobic Commodore dressing room, minutes after his band had opened for Colin James. “I was downtown, and just by fluke I bumped into his manager. I didn’t know who he was, though—I just thought he was some guy who rapped with me about Stevie for a minute. But then I went up to the hall, and I was outside listening to them do sound check, and Mark Norman—who works for Perryscope in Vancouver now—came outside and got a kick out of this little kid, ’cause he didn’t figure anyone my age would be into the music. So he went in to see if he could get an autograph, and the manager came out with a backstage pass.
“So I got to meet Stevie, and we went downstairs to the dressing-room. He had an old National guitar that used to belong to Blind Boy Fuller, so we jammed on that for a while. It was just the thrill of a lifetime.”
It wasn’t really surprising that the young Gogo made a big impression on Vaughan, though, when you consider that the kid had been playing guitar from the age of five…and ukulele before that.
“When I was growin’ up my dad had quite a few different kinds of records, everything from Hank Williams to Canned Heat, and also some Taj Mahal and B.B. King. It took me a while to get into B.B., but I really dug the Canned Heat and Taj Mahal. And I just always wanted to play guitar.”
By the age of 13 Gogo was playing dances, and at 16 he started playing bars, fronting his own band. He formed the Persuaders about three years ago. In recent months the band signed a deal with the Tragically Hip’s management team, and at last report was negotiating a major-label recording contract. These days the priority for Gogo is to get more original material together, so that when the studio doors fly open he and his mates—saxophonist Pierre Komen, bassist Todd Sacerty, and drummer Damien Graham—will be able to tear right in.
“We’ve probably only got a dozen originals that are kinda happening,” says Gogo, “but in the next couple of months that’s really the focus. The writing’s actually coming a lot easier in the last little while because of all the interest in us. It kinda gives you something to work towards, whereas before it was like, ‘Yeah sure, write a song—so what?’ ”
While it will have to be his own material that eventually sets Dave Gogo apart from all the other blues-influenced guitarist/vocalists out there in Rockland, he’s picked up a lot of authentic feel by emulating real blues artists—folks like Magic Sam, Muddy Waters, and Buddy Guy—rather than getting by with the typical bar-room standards.
“At first that was tough,” says Gogo, “because back in Nanaimo a lot of people just wanted to hear the regular Bob Seger/CCR kinda bar stuff, and I didn’t want to do that. I had another band before the Persuaders and it broke up because of the material, but I told these guys when we got together that this is what I want to do, and this is what we’re gonna do.
“We stuck to our guns, and it’s paying off now.”