I am what you would call a MASTER of guitar. Please stop rolling your eyes. Let me be more specific. I am a master of what is known as “The Power Chord”; I expertly slide this lone finger configuration up and down any guitar neck, landing on any fret with ease while my other hand skillfully strums the strings to allow the listener to hear a clean, thick, chunky tone (with slight help from a guitar pedal, guitar tuner, guitar amp, cables, picks, guitar tech, sound engineer and public address system).
It has taken me years to perfect this. So when Jeff Healey called me asking if I’d like to sit-in on one of his jam nights at his club, I agreed with the confidence of a thousand rhythm strums. Of course, it soon dawned on me that if I was to actually go tête-à-tête with this man my playing would resemble the sound people make when they get colonics or the sparse toots pee-droplets make when one has a urinary tract infection. Most people would say I have limited chops but I like to think of it more as Jeff Healey being incapable of participating in a “power chord only” jam. Either way, I immediately got on the horn and proposed to him that I just sing instead.
Once the tentative became confirmed, I started to get nervous. I was very aware of who I was about to walk on stage with and the weight he carried. The UK had Clapton, The States had Eddie and with Jeff Healey, we as Canadians had our own genuine guitar hero. A blind man playing guitar on his lap is a gimmick that can only go so far but when you actually heard him play and then heard him sing, it was easy for even the lay person to see that Jeff was operating at a higher echelon of talent stock.
We all watched Jeff ascend the heights of the music biz. No one batted a dubious eye or raised a shred of uncertainty to his deserving stature. Some people are born with the code to the castle in their genes. Whether it was Grammy nods or movie and television appearances, he need only start to play in order to silence peanut galleries. But for as good as Jeff was I proffer that he was probably responsible for a whack of kids opting to play drums, piano or saxophone because no matter how good one got to be at playing guitar, they could never be that good. And that was the boat I found myself in when I agreed to sing at Healey’s nightclub with Jeff in tow.
Hemming and hawing, I finally penciled together a set and cleared it with band leader, Jerome Godboo, legendary singer/harp player for The Phantoms. Knowing Jerome would be on stage too only made the nerves rattle harder. When I got a call from Jeff a few days before the gig saying he would be in Brazil that night, unable to attend the gig, my anxiety got swapped for disappointment. I really wanted to jam with Jeff Healey.
I still had given my word to appear that night and I determinedly walked on stage only to find out Greg Godovitz and Doug Inglis, two thirds of the legendary band, Goddo, were part of the house band too! It was enough to always remember that night fondly. I had a blast.
When word got back to Jeff that I had really wanted to play with him, he called me up and promised to make it up to me clearing the calendar and telling me any night was mine and that he’d be there to jam. As luck would have it, our band’s schedule was starting to ramp up at galloping speeds to the point that I eventually had to put my stuff in storage and so began a 3 year touring schedule that had us at home for less than 10 months within that time period.
Of the few regrets I’ve had in this bloodsucking music game, not being able to take Jeff Healey up on his offers to jam remains my biggest. Who knows, I might’ve even treated him to one of my signature power chords.
Danko Jones – Live at Healey’s – ‘The Sun Is Shining’
Danko Jones (aka: The Mango Kid, Dr. Evening, The Brown Panther, etc…) is a shining beacon in a sea of grey. Striking out from the wilds of Toronto for fame and fortune on global shores, Danko has done it all in spades. Whether sharing arena stages with the likes of Axl Rose and Lemmy Kilmister, topping rock charts in Europe, or adding the titles of “Spoken Word Artist”, “Music- magazine Columnist” and “Internationally Syndicated Radio Host” to his formidable list of aliases, Danko Jones has made it happen on his own terms.
Danko also has a regular column in the Huffington Post. Last year he wrote an article about Jeff that received numerous cheers of support while simultaneously rankling some at Canada’s Walk of Fame. Read it HERE (Contains language that might not be safe for work. Just sayin’).
…and be sure to check out Danko at the links below: