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June 23, 2024

Gogo brings Coal & Wood Show to Mahon Hall

A Salt Spring audience can enjoy a musical immersion in Vancouver Island social history during an evening called John Gogo – Coal & Wood Show at Mahon Hall on Thursday, Nov. 21.

Gogo is a proud fourth-generation Vancouver Islander from Nanaimo, whose ancestors earned a living in the logging and coal-mining industries. He even spent two years working in the woods as a chokerman before becoming a professional musician.

Songs for the show have been written over the last 30 years, with some first released on an album called Coal & Wood in 1990. Gogo added to the collection with Coal & Wood (Revisited) in 2015. According to Gogo’s website, the songs “explore the unique and layered lives of heroes and villains: the visionary Finns of Sointula, the notorious Dunsmuirs, labour martyr Ginger Goodwin, the ghost of Clarence Ballance and the infamous Brother XII of De Courcy Island.”

But he was not finished exploring the concept after his Coal & Wood (Revisited) album was released.

“About two years ago I thought it would make a good show,” he said, adding that an introductory song and another one for the end were since written.

The closing number asks people to reflect on what privilege means to them, in light of the treatment of visible minorities in Canada and B.C. Gogo’s ancestors’ lives were not easy, he notes, but they did not deal with the same challenges as workers of Chinese or South Asian backgrounds.

Gogo’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather all have the first name of John, and he will represent each of them throughout the evening.

John Gogo – Coal & Wood Show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.

For more on this story, see the Nov. 20, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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