Des Moines – Java Joe’s

Java Joe’s is one of the coolest coffee shops I’ve ever been to. The vibe in the brick walls and art was absolutely splendid, and I couldn’t think of a better place to play. They had a stage next door that had some of the best acoustics that I’ve ever heard, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I got to see alot of people that I already knew and one young girl who heard “Pocket Change” on Pandora and checked my tour schedule. (How awesome is that?)

I had a little bit of a tough day however. Some of you guys know that I battle with depression sometimes. Yesterday was a pretty rough day, as I haven’t had a lot of sleep on the tour, and sometimes, it’s just difficult. I don’t say this to make you feel sorry for me or anything, I just want to share this because of the story I’m about to share. I think it’s important to be transparent about your problems because you never know who could be reading and need to know that they are not abnormal/that people understand and go through things just like they do. 

I had a good friend who went on tour with me in this area last year. His name was Matt Ryd. He committed suicide a few weeks ago, and it just started hitting me as I was getting into Des Moines, and it really affected my day. Matt was kind of the opposite of me in every way imaginable. Tall, Skinny, Dorky, but lovable. He was kind to everyone, and incredibly talented. I on the other hand am short, stocky, undercover-dorky, and definitely not lovable… ;-P He likek music. LIVED for singer/songwriter tunes. He liked cats. (LOVED cats.) I live for sports and hate cats. That’s just the first couple examples that come to mind.

Matt ran sound for me at Uncommon Ground in Chicago my first time playing there, and we had been friends ever since. I even had him open up for me, and he brought out a good amount of people. We decided to go on tour together, and I won’t lie… we definitely got on each other’s nerves, but we were still friends. (Shoot… everyone gets on my nerves… and I probably get on all of theirs… haha!) It was just a normal friendship of two guys with super different interests trying to coexist. 

Matt and I toured the midwest/great lakes area and had a good 2 weeks of working hard on the road. I met his parents at a show, and we played shows that had 70+ people and shows that had 1 person show. It was definitely the gambit of feelings those weeks. With a busted radio and a gas guzzling SUV, we traveled a good amount together, and I don’t think we’d do it again if you paid us… hahaa! (I’m telling you… we were SOOOO different.) 😀

Matt had some internal issues, and had a hard time with them, and they eventually consumed him and he lost the battle with his demons a few weeks back. Seeing all of the places that he and I traveled before brought back a lot of the things that we talked about on the road. Bonding over bi-polar disorder wasn’t what I thought a good time was made up of, but it was a common ground for us. I told him how I dealt with my issues and he told me how he dealt with his. 

So this leg of the tour has been a little rough, and it had me down yesterday. THEN when I got off stage, I found out that a good friend of mine, Jeb Milne from Witzend Live in Venice (Where I just played LAST week) passed away in his sleep. Jeb was one of the good guys in LA. He and I had an arrangement, and he always paid me for exclusively coming to his club and not going to Hotel Cafe, Room 5, etc… and he always had room for me at his shows. Even though my draw in LA wasn’t the best, he believed in me, and told me that he saw me going really far. It meant a lot coming from him. He was maybe in his early 40’s and he LOVED his venue. He was even going to put in a “burlesque show” aspect that he was incredibly excited about. I’m really going to miss him.

As I got off of the stage and saw the text about his passing, it was really hard. I talked to my friends Kenton, B Willing, and Angelique, that were all mutual friends of his, and that helped a bit…. but I was too tired to drive, and went to a hotel on the way to Minneapolis. Sometimes, all you can do is give yourself a break… even if it’s only a night off.

So where do I go from here? I think a little bit of sadness and reflection is required, but to dwell on it too long would be the opposite of what Matt and Jeb would have wanted. My goal is to miss them, tell their stories, and live my life in a way that they would have been proud to have played with me /booked me. 

That’s kind of the short version, because I don’t want to dive to deep, but tonight I’m playing at the Daily Dose. It’s a pretty sweet spot, and if you find yourself in Minneapolis, you should definitely check them out! 

I’ll blog again about my day today and tonight’s show in a bit. Go Patriots! 😀

Love you Matt and Jeb. You guys will be missed.


About Josh Damigo

Josh will cheerfully admit that he averaged less than a dozen people a show when he first began playing San Diego coffee houses. But he garnered diehard fans in the process, sold a few thousand copies of his homemade EP, Pocket Change, and picked up few awards along the way. After a traumatic family incident, Damigo retreated inward, and he ended up writing what would ultimately become his breakout debut, Raw. The album was true to its name and people noticed - Josh picked up two San Diego Music Awards for “Best Acoustic” and “Best Local Recording,” opened for the likes of Zac Brown, Jason Mraz, Eric Hutchinson, and Matt Nathanson, and had enough money and momentum to tour the country a few times over. A few years after Raw, there was his third release, Hope. Whereas Raw was a mostly acoustic, vulnerable affair, Hope was a celebration. Pleading and poignant, heartfelt and heavy hearted, it segued effortlessly from orchestral to alt-country, eventually landing him in the top 25 on the country charts. One of the hardest working indie singer/songwriters in Southern California, Damigo spent much of year with producer Mike Butler, gathering up some of the finest musicians in town, shaping his songs and sound further still for his latest album, "Just Give Me a Call", available now, on Randm Records. From the up-tempo single, “Just Give Me a Call”, to the simple sincerity of the ballad “Tennessee”, Josh’s songwriting skills are clear, his voice rings true and his goals remain the same as when he started - to keep making the best music he can, and to share it with all.
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