Music Musings – Danny Gochnour

Danny Gochnour is the lead guitar for Joe Grushecky and the House Rockers, a successful Solo Artist with his release “The Despair of Summer,” a great guy, and a personal friend.

Danny Ripping it up with the House Rockers

LM: Being that we are both guitar players that is the topic du jour. First, I would like to ask a little about you and your background.  How long you been playin’ guitar?

DG: I started when I was 9. I hate to reveal my age but here ya go. 53 years!!

LM: Who was the first influential guitar player that caused you to say, “I’m gonna do that?”

DG: I wanted to start playing after watching The Monkees on TV. The first guitarists to rock my world were Alvin Lee, his Going Home solo at Woodstock was mind bending. Then Peter Frampton with Humble Pie and Jimmy McCarty with Cactus. Of course Page, Clapton, and Hendrix were major.

LM: Do you have a particular source of inspiration for most of your songs or does it just strike without warning?

DG: I wanna be Jason His writing, along with guys like James McMurtry are always inspirational. As far as my songs go it comes from anywhere I can find it. A lot of my writing, in some ways, is deeply personal.

LM: Time for the cornball, slow-pitch, Castaway question…1 Desert Island Album?

DG: Easy. Steely Dan Aja. Perfection.

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LM: I’m going to be a bit of a “fan boy,” now. I know you have experienced things that most of us can only dream of, so I would be remiss if I did not ask the question: What is it like to trade licks with a guy like Bruce Springsteen in front of a roaring crowd, with all those eyes on you? Most of us will never get to experience that, so as much detail as possible is great.

DG: I’m not gonna lie. It’s the best feeling on earth. I first played with Bruce in 2006 at the Starland Ballroom. Honestly, I wasn’t the biggest fan. I knew of his work, his success and status but at the time I didn’t own a Bruce Springsteen record. It wasn’t until I stood beside him that I realized and recognized how really good he is. He is a remarkably good guitarist. Not technical in any way but he has a great energy to his playing. Once on stage I tend to be focused on the task at hand so at that point he’s no different than anyone else I’d be on stage with. Plus the fact he’s really easy to work with.

Danny with the Boss

LM: Knowing that musical distribution and artist exposure has really changed over the years, what is the best way to find your music?

DG: The best way is to go on Spotify, CDBaby, Amazon, Apple Music etc. 

Check out Danny’s Music at –

LM: This is a long one, so sit back for a bit, while I explain: There is a particular sound that I liken to a flavorful and robust Gumbo; it was a stew of Jazz complexity, Folk lyricism, and In-Your-Face Rock-n-Roll that could be found in places like New Jersey and Pittsburgh, let’s call it “Industrial Gumbo,” for the sake of clarity. Then, during a very specific time in CBGB history, some of the bands that played “Industrial Gumbo” found themselves sharing the stage with the Punk bands of the day. Many of these bands picked up some Punk influences and tossed that into their mix, for good measure. Once this Punk spice was tossed into the Industrial Gumbo, then it created a sound that you seem to have mastered. Do you find this to be true? 

DG: I know what you’re saying and referring to. I definitely get that in the Jersey music. The Wrecking Ball and High Hopes records from Bruce, albeit newer, definately have the gumbo thing happening as well as a lot of his early works. Joe Grushecky’s first couple records had a definate punk influence that combined with Joe’s roots and blue collar background made for an interesting combination. As far as my work goes I don’t think I have the urgency of the punk influence. There’s definitely a lot of influences: Jazz, Blue Grass, Americana, Blues. It’s more chicken soup than an industrial gumbo.

LM: Obviously, you have unbelievable tone (a quick listen verifies that) and it seems that you have a “Hi-end audio approach an sensibilities” to your signal chain, meaning you seem to understand that everything matters in music reproduction, such as resonance control, cables, etc…; therefore, my question is: “Are you an audiophile?”

DG: I’m an audiophile wanna be. It’s a long story. Somewhere around 1978 I wandered into Opus One, a stereo store in downtown Pittsburgh that sold hi end audio stuff. They were playing Miles Davis Kind of Blue on a Linn Sondec turntable through Dalquist DQ10s and a MacIntosch amp. It literally changed my world in an instant. The purity,  depth and clarity was like nothing I’ve experienced. It sounded ‘live’ but better. From that moment I set out to try to achieve that experience at home. On a limited budget I bought the best components I could afford. I got a NAD 3020 integrated amp, a pair of Magnaplane MG 1s, and a Regaplanar Turntable. While nowhere near what I heard in Opus One it allowed me an appreciation for purity in sound.

That transcended into my guitar playing and my live rig. I don’t want to get into an argument about how things like cables DO matter. I mean, you either get it or you don’t but I’ve always chased that purity and clarity. When I started trying out cables I was amazed at how different each cable sounded. I was using, nah, I won’t say the brand, but I was using one top brand cable and one day I switched and it was like removing a blanket from the front of my speaker. That put me on a search much like my seeking out the best HiFi equipment I could find within my budget. You could drive yourself crazy with the search but I think I’ve found the best I need to find in Audience Cables. I can’t describe what it is. It’s just ‘more’ of everything.  It’s a whole different conversation that causes much debate but again, you either get it or not. Then I meet guys like Tim Schroeder and play through one of his amps and I’m taken right back to Opus One again and down the rabbit hole I go. It’s life changing.

LM: Are you familiar with MoFi’s catalogue? If so, have you heard the amazing “One Step,” and how it can bring forth the unresolved layers and nuances of past recordings?

DG: I’ve been a MoFi fan since my early days and my short venture down that audiophile rabbit hole. I own my desert island record ‘Aja’ on MoFi Original Master Recording vinyl and on Ultra Disc as well as anything else I could find. My turntable has been packed away for years. I recently fired it up again and was reminded how glorious vinyl sounds. I have not heard the One Step recordings. In fact, I hadn’t even heard about them until I met you, Lenny. I looked at the catalog and there are some amazing titles in there that I’ll be ordering once this lock down let’s up.

LM: We are all going through a tumultuous time where music has become paramount to our daily lives, so my question is: Are you able to get out new songs for your audience? And, if so, is there a way to purchase your music, while staying in quarantine?

DG: Unfortunately work on the follow up record has come to a halt. I’m still writing and hopefully once life gets back to normal I can finish it. I haven’t done any online on Facebook shows yet. There are so many of my friends who are much more talented than me doing sets almost daily that I couldn’t begin to compete. We’ll see.

LM: Finally, you really have a way with words, so I would like to ask if you can lend any words of comfort for the people, during this time of upheaval?

DG: I struggle daily myself. I know when this is over, and it will be over, I’ll have a new appreciation for friendships and for standing on stage making music again. My words of comfort would be to limit your social media time. I see so much negativity and arguing that it tends to really bring me down. There really are good people out there trying to do good things in these hard times. Goodness starts within. With goodness comes comfort.

LM: Well, I would like to personally thank you, Danny, for taking the time to complete this interview. I look forward to more of your wonderful music.

DG: Thank you, Lenny. My pleasure.