David Gogo gets tongue-tied around Jeff Beck, “the best guitarist in the world”



One of the best perks of being a Media Slut From Hell—I mean, music journalist—is getting backstage to pose for photos with your fave rock gods. At my house, there’s a hallowed location on an office wall where I’ve hung a framed snapshot of me and a concert-scrounging friend looking chummy with Keith Richards. I even made sure to wear my metal skull ring so that I could implore Keef to touch it with his when the record company’s shutterbug-for-hire said “Cheese!” Sure, five seconds after that photo op Richards didn’t know me from Adam, but easily impressed houseguests gazing at my prized 8-by-10 needn’t know that.

While he’s something of a celebrity himself, blues-rocker David Gogo understands the inherent value of backstage snaps. His current bio has pics of him with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins, and Jeff Beck. The latter image was taken at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre after Beck’s show there in September of ’99. I know that because I was there, too, lining up with a different concert-scrounging buddy to get my own black-and-white memento of the rock legend.

“He’s the best guitarist in the world,” asserts Gogo, over the phone from his Nanaimo home. “That show at the Queen E just fucked me right up! It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve actually been kinda tongue-tied around someone—because he was just so good! But it was cool, because I probably only spoke to the guy for a minute and a half, but the photo looks like we’re good old buddies, so what the hell.”

There may be a few fans out there who would proudly show off photos of themselves with David Gogo. They could even be members of the Pacific Music Industry Association, who voted Gogo musician of the year at the 2000 West Coast Music Awards.

“That was great,” he says of the presentation, “because it was sponsored by the musicians’ association, so it’s kind of a peer thing. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend [the ceremony], because I was out on the road. But when I got back off the road I was flickin’ through the channels one night and on MuchWest they had coverage of the awards, and the fuckin’ guy there gets on TV and says, ‘Oh, there were so many no-shows, I think that if you weren’t there to get your award, you shouldn’t even get it, blah-blah-blah.’ And I was royally pissed off! I wanted to tell him, you know, part of being musician of the year is getting out there on the road. I would have loved to have been at the Commodore, you know, enjoying some beverages, achieving accolades and kudos. But we had an opportunity to open a show for [George] Thorogood, so that’s what I had to do.”

When the West Coast Music Awards take place this year—at the Commodore Ballroom on May 13—Gogo probably won’t be able to make it again, as he’s on the road with fellow Vancouver Islander Ken Hamm. “We did a tour last year together,” notes Gogo, “and the great thing was I got to see Ken Hamm play, like, 15 nights in a row, so… He’s awesome. He’s probably one of the best fingerstyle acoustic blues players in the world.”

After the acoustic tour with Hamm runs its course, Gogo expects to return to Vancouver this summer with a full electric band, to perform tunes from his new CD, Halfway to Memphis. It features Gogo originals mixed with incendiary versions of old blues gems like Muddy Waters’s “Rollin’ and Tumblin’ ”—which Jeff Beck just happened to cover on his latest album. In the last four years, Gogo’s recorded output has included a live blues record (Dine Under the Stars), a rock record (Change of Pace), an acoustic blues record (Bare Bones), and now this studio blues record. As for what direction he’ll go in the future, Gogo—whose family roots in Nanaimo go back five generations—says he’s pondering a project based on the stories of old-timers from around the area. Between that and heavy touring, he hopes to squeeze in some quality time with his two-year-old son, Lincoln.

“I named him after Link Wray,” says Gogo, “because I went and saw Link do an in-store [performance], and I was inspired that a guy pushin’ 70 is still rockin’ hard. And Lincoln’s a great little guy. I got a little drum kit set up for when I’m rehearsin’ with guys, and he likes whackin’ the drums. A friend of mine said, ‘Look at that, he might be a drummer!’ And I said, ‘Damn it, I was hopin’ he might be a musician.’

“So that’s a lot of fun, having a two-year-old, but it makes it a little bit harder hittin’ the road. Then again, you want to go out there and make some dough to pay for a new pair of shoes.”

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