Blues guitarist Josh Gooch first earned local notice after winning Guitar Center’s 2009 “King of the Blues” contest, while he was still in high school.
“At Humphrey’s, they used to make me hide out back behind the Dumpsters because I was too young to be in the bar,” says Gooch, a working blues guitarist since he was a freshman at Westview High School in Rancho Peñasquitos. “I would have to walk in straight to the stage, play, and then head right back to the Dumpsters.… I can honestly say I’ve never been thrown out of a bar, but I’ve been forced to stand outside a bunch.”
Gooch was 7 when his family relocated to San Diego from Seattle. “I started on guitar around 13 years old, but I didn’t take any lessons until two years later. I learned mostly on my dad’s Kramer electric guitar and a 1960s Yamaha nylon-string acoustic.”
By his senior year, he was playing around town with Chet and the Committee and Will Street Blues. Having graduated last year from Westview High School, Gooch currently plays guitar with the Alabama-based band the Highly Kind. “I was first invited out there to play with them by Johnny Sandlin, who produces for my favorite band, the Allman Brothers. My mom and I flew out there…my first time in the Deep South. The drummer [for the Highly Kind] is Duane Trucks, whose brother Derek is in the Allmans too.… Johnny recorded and videotaped one of our gigs, and then an album, and I just kind of ended up in the band for good.”
So how does a Rancho Peñasquitos teenager meet the Allman Brothers’ producer in the first place? “My dad [James Gooch] is a guitarist, and he knew Gregg Allman.… What can I say, talent doesn’t hurt, but who you know helps.”
Gooch was 19 years old in 2010, when he toured Japan for the first time. “I always miss being away from San Diego, especially skateboarding. Except, I’m not supposed to skateboard anymore. If I break something, I break the band too.”