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Bluesfest Review: Goddo

By Terry Steeves on July 23, 2014

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Ottawa braced themselves for the return of the pretty bad boys of hard rock on the River stage on July 13. This would be the last show I would see at Bluesfest this year, and what a way to go out…with high decibel power chord rock…just the way I like it!

Goddo is a Canadian 3-piece hard rock band originating from Scarborough, Ontario that formed in 1975. Greg Godovitz (bass/lead vocals), Gino Scarpelli (guitar), and Doug Inglis (drums) unleashed a brand of powerhouse arena rock featuring heavy riffing guitar and a thunderous rhythm section of bass and drums. They released their first single, “Under My Hat”, from their self-titled debut album in 1977 under Polydor Records which became a radio hit.

Several albums would follow, churning out a string of rock classics like, “Sweet Thing”, “Tough Times”, and “Pretty Bad Boy”…a song which became another top 40 hit and earned them a Juno nomination in 1982 for “Band of the Year”. After years of heavy touring, and financial woes, the band folded in 1983. The trio would later re-emerge on occasion to record another album, King Of Broken Hearts (1992), and again in 2000 to record a live album under a new label, Bullseye Records, who also re-issued their first three albums. In 2004, another studio album, Kings Of The Stoned Age rendered them the single, “Rock Star”.

In 2010, original band manager, John Power, came up with an idea to shoot a live concert of the band on DVD to re-introduce the public to the music of Goddo as part of their 35th anniversary. As a follow-up plan, his production company, All Access would also produce a documentary film about the history of the band using snippets of footage from past and present along with interviews and highlights accumulated over the years. Tonight, the lucky audience who attended the show would get to be a part of the making of this film, entitled: “In Goddo We Trust”.

The beginning of the show started with the usual introductory classical piece, “Anacanapanacana”, which added some initial drama as the boys took the stage to lock themselves in. At the precise moment they exploded into “So Walk On” followed by another classic headbanger, “Bus Driver Blues”. The crowd was a mix of diehard fans who had followed Goddo since the early days, all the way up to newer fans who’ve only recently discovered their music. And then there were the ones who just stayed put because they’d found themselves the perfect place to rock out.

Gene Scarpelli performing with Goddo on the River stage.

Gene Scarpelli performing with Goddo on the River stage.

They played their first hit, “Under My Hat”, a very flavourful number featuring some Latin beats, haunting guitar tones and a gentle-rockin’ bass groove…one of my favorites. Although I was disappointed to hear that Gino Scarpelli was unable to perform due to an injury from a fall, his son, Gene delivered every song masterfully. A few songs into the show he loosened up,\ and by the time the heavy muscled, “Quicksand” was finished he was left alone on stage where he performed a spectacular guitar solo and ate up the generous applause of the audience. There was no question…he’d pumped up the enthusiasm in the band, and the crowd loved him.

Godovitz took a moment to thank everyone for supporting the band over the years, considering the fact it had been many years since they’d played in Ottawa. Then he jumped back into his groove with the rockin’, “Dreams Of New York City”. The show ended with “Too Much Carousing”…slow and heavy, into some double-time madness and Godovitz’s vocals ripping right through it all.

After the show, the boys headed down to the autograph/merch tent where fans were lined up with their albums, DVD’s, and some with a copy of Greg Godovitz’s book, Travels With My Amp…a behind-the-scenes, no-holds-barred account of his rock star life on the road…definitely a must-read. For those not familiar with the music of Goddo, I would recommend viewing their concert DVD, Goddo: The Pretty Bad Boys Return (released in 2013). It features their live performance, played to a sold-out crowd at Toronto’s Sound Academy in 2010 with 15 tracks of the best of Goddo. The audio is spectacular, and if you’re into rock concert DVD’s, this is definitely one to add to your collection.

I more than experienced Bluesfest this year…I had the opportunity to immerse myself in it. The sights, the sounds, the smells, and the emotion generated from the artists to the crowd and back again. Every year has had something amazing to offer, with memories from each I get to carry with me the rest of my life. Happy 20 years to you, Bluesfest…I can’t wait for next year!

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