They say you have to pay your dues before you can truly play the blues.
That commitment took Nanaimo native David Gogo to a crossroads when he opened for Albert Collins in Victoria in the early ‘80s. Shortly after Collins invited him on stage to play with him, Gogo, 20 at the time, headed off to Texas to soak up the blues in one of its cradles.
“I went to see Albert play at Antone’s in Austin,” Gogo recalled. “He brought me on stage again and asked me what I was up to after the show. He said jump on the bus and come with me and I wound up playing a bunch of gigs with him in places like Kansas City, Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago. It’s still crazy to think about that after all these years. Albert was really special, and I miss him a lot.”
Whether opening for, playing with or just hanging out with legends like B.B. King, Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gogo has never forgotten how they always went out of their way to spend time with him.
“I look back now and so many of them are gone,” Gogo said with sadness. “Stevie was so young, others were older. I try to keep what they did for me in mind and make time for younger players whenever I can, passing the torch.”
Thirty years into a career that has spanned 14 albums and Juno Award nominations, Gogo reflected on the challenges of balancing a career with the responsibilities of fatherhood.
“I’ve been a single father for the past 10 years and spent a lot of time on the road,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate that my sisters and my parents were always there for support when I was away.”
It’s easier now that his son, Lincoln, is 18, Gogo admitted.
“He’s pretty independent,” he said. “I like to joke that I always hoped he would be a musician but he took up the drums instead. He’s started to learn guitar so he can write songs now, and that’s very cool.”
Fresh off a recent Maple Blues Award as guitarist of the year, Gogo is working on his next album.
“The last one, Vicksburg Call, is my favourite so far,” he said. “It’s always exciting to get back to writing and work on new stuff. We’re at the stage where we’re figuring out what we’ll do, whether we want to push the envelope. Blues is a life experience, there’s always room to grow.”
Buoyed by hearing that Vicksburg Call is getting air time on local commercial rock stations as well as those devoted to blues, Gogo is looking forward to an upcoming gig at the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre.
“We’ve always enjoyed playing in Victoria, and I’ve heard it’s a beautiful new facility,” he added.
The fact the concert aims to raise money to start a scholarship in memory of West Shore RCMP Constable Sarah Beckett made signing on an easy decision for Gogo.
“We all heard the news and were shocked and saddened by Sarah’s loss,” he said. “Whether it’s police or fire, first responders put their lives on the line every day. When I was first approached, I wanted to help out right away.”
Tickets for David Gogo at the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre on May 20 are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Tickets and details are available at Langford City Hall, Langford Fire Rescue, Russell Books, BiteZ Sandwich Shop, and Ivy’s Book Store. Check out (website for poster here) for more information.