Epic moments in apres-ski history-Jonny Mogambo
1. What makes a good entertainer?Entertainer (as compared to a musician) is someone who can read a crowd and relate to them in some way. An entertainer has to engage the crowd and bring them on-stage with them, not physically but through what they are doing.2. You intersperse original songs with covers. What is your inspiration for writing originals?I have an inner need to express myself through music, lyrics and song. When I see or hear something that moves me I will write about it. Sometimes the muse just shows up and I get great ideas and I sit down and write music and it just comes out of me naturally.3. Who are your influences musically?My Grandmother Charlotte Reid (who sang professionally on the Breakfast Club and was also in Congressl for the state of Illinois. And I would see pictures of her singing with Ford and Nixon), my mom and dad, Bob Marley, James Brown, George Clinton, Peter Tosh, The Stones, The Allman Brothers, Culture, Miles Davis, Jimmy Ibotsen from the Nitty Gritty Dirt band, who used to be married to one of my dad’s best friends in college and sang Mr. Bojangles one night at one of my dad’s parties when I was 9 years old. I knew at that point in time that that is what I wanted to do in life. And finally, and mainly, my eighth-grade music teacher Mrs. Popadolias who made music fun and really got me into singing.
4. Where and when did you develop your apres show? How has it changed over the years and where has the show taken you?I started playing acoustic shows in Boulder when I was in college and everything musical just went from there to bands, to solo shows to après shows to my company, All Occasions Music, and all the parties we play. Up here it all started at Garfinkles. I used to just play mostly originals and a few select covers of old obscure blues and funk tunes. But after a few seasons of doing the après ski gig, you hear a lot of similar requests and you see these other guys around town playing the same requests every day. They are all songs I learned in high school, and I figured if I have to play some of those songs to get people to listen to my originals, then that’s OK.At first I really didn’t like playing songs that I felt I had already moved past musically, but in the end après ski is all about the people there, it’s not about you, so you give them what they want and hope that you’ll be able to turn them onto something new they like. I have done this, and I have sold over 12,000 CDs of my own music and that tells me that people are liking what I am doing originally. My show changes nightly really. If there are a lot of families around I will play a lot of good music with a lot of fancy guitar work and songs that everyone can sing to. If it is a lot of men,, which happens in these ski towns, I’ll play a lot of songs about drinking and women. And, if it’s a good mix of the party crowd I’ll play some good dancing music so people can let loose and just party like the ski crowd likes to do. My music has taken me around the world. I have had people fly me to San Fran, Fort Worth, Chicago, Clevland Ohio, Richmond Va., Canada, Philly, New Jersey and Austin Texas to name a few, and I have toured to Turkey, Greece , Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and lived in St. Croix and Seville, Spain, playing music full time. I have opened for Steel Pulse and Dave Mason and played with Steve Bruton (Bonnie Raitt band), Michael Anthony (Van Halen) and the rhythm section with the Taj Mahal trio.5. How is playing in the five-piece funk band different than your apres show? Which do you prefer?
With my five-piece funk band, we play a lot more old school funk, originals and jazz/funk/reggae/blues inspired music. I love playing solo, but there is nothing like it when the band is on and it’s tight and clicking. It is powerful, and it can really lift the soul and take everyone higher. I believe that is the purpose of music, to lift the soul and enlighten you and take you to a higher place. If it does that, everyone is better off after experiencing it.6. You also own a productions company that puts together musicians to play events. What makes you the perfect guy to run a company like this?It is simply sales. I’m good at getting gigs by talking to people and letting them know we have a lot to offer musically and can do whatever they want to make their event a musical success. I also have a good business sense with an education from CU. Most musicians are very creative and are great on their instruments, they just don’t know how to convert that creativity into getting gigs.7. In the 10 years you’ve been doing your show, what is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen?I don’t think you can print the craziest thing I have ever seen. But, one day after many shot-skis (that’s usually how all the crazy stories start) during the time when the torch for the last winter Olympics ran through Lionshead, I was playing at what used to be Trails End (Gravity,The Lions Den) and everyone was just plastered, and there were about five or 10 people with their clothes off on stage (including me I think), someone bought the whole bar about five rounds of tequilas, people where doing the shot-ski left and right, everyone was on the tables dancing, and I convinced some lady in her underwear to go out and tackle the person carrying the torch. It was an epic moment in après ski history.8. What do you love most about music?
I think music elevates the soul. It brings people together in a positive way and makes everyone higher. It can be a very enlightening experience for everyone involved.9. You have two kids now, Marley and Kingston, how have they changed your music career?Mainly, it has just made me work harder because I want my children to have the same opportunities I did. I have tried to stay more local and regional with my gigs because going on the road sucks when you have to leave your kids at home. I miss them too much when I am gone, so I have tried to develop my business close to home. Also, instead of driving to gigs like I used to do a lot, my business has developed to where people mainly fly me in and out of places.10. Tell me the origin if the shot ski? (a ski with several shot glasses attached to it.)My wife’s cousin Jonny “Highsides” Cantamessa and his friend Mike Radar, who I think have the patent on that thing, just started bringing it to gigs and everyone started doing it. “Ski on it all day, party on it all night,” is the motto. It was really just a joke at first and now it has turned into part of my show. People show up and they want to party on the shot ski. It just makes me laugh because it’s so beer-bong, shot-ski college-party-girls-gone-wild kinda thing. But hey, whatever gets you in the mood to boogie to the music, I’ll be there to lead the way.Vail, Colorado