Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo was about to have one his “best years ever in terms of touring” when everything suddenly came to a halt because of COVID-19.
Gogo was able to get some support early on in the form of a Music B.C. grant which kept him writing and gave him a sense of purpose, but he wasn’t sure where that writing would lead.
“I did start writing and not for anything in particular,” he said. “I didn’t know what my next move was going to be. Everything was up in the air.”
On Oct. 8, Gogo reveals the fruits of those sessions with the release of Silver Cup, an acoustic album recorded at Gogo’s house with Toronto-based blues musician Steve Marriner. That night Gogo and Marriner perform at the Queen’s.
While he was stuck at home due to the pandemic wiping out his touring schedule, Gogo took the opportunity to delve into blues history and his own family history, both of which ended up influencing the album.
“Being home off the road all this time with the pandemic gave me time to not only write new songs, but listen to a lot of music,” Gogo said. “So I listened to a lot of the old blues music from the ’30s and ’40s that I listened to when I was a teenager and really got back into that.”
Gogo and Marriner kept those old blues records in mind while making Silver Cup and even used vintage microphones to try to capture that classic sound.
“We just wanted to record it how it would have been recorded back in the day, back in the ’40s or ’50s,” Gogo said.
The pair also used period instruments on the album, including guitars dating back 100 years and a converted ex-player piano from the 1920s that Gogo said adds to the “old-time feel.”
The album title refers to a gift that Gogo’s grandmother bequeathed to him upon her death in December at the age of 95. Gogo said he was fascinated by the cup, which has been in his family since the 1800s. It was once owned by Gogo’s great-great-great uncle James MacKay, who Gogo learned was a Métis fur trader and politician in Manitoba at the time of the province’s founding and was involved in negotiating treaties. Gogo touches on that history on the song Silver Cup.
“I didn’t know this history until now and it was interesting to be just inspired by this artifact, this silver cup,” he said. “It was intriguing to me, so once I did the research it really paid off.”
Now that the album is finished Gogo and Marriner will be touring it through B.C. and Alberta. Gogo said it feels odd to be so busy after spending a year and a half at home, but it’s good to finally get back on the road.
“It’s not just a job,” he said. “It’s my life.”
Silver Cup is available for pre-order at www.davidgogo.com.