Fort Wayne is one of the best places to play in the U.S. And that’s according to Anthony Gomes, a veteran of the blues rock scene who has played more than a few places during his 20-plus year career.
“I’ve been there probably a half dozen times,” Gomes said in a recent interview. “You know there are certain little pockets, like Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; Ashville, N.C.; these little pockets where people really get music, and Fort Wayne is one of these pockets.
“I feel like (WXKE Radio Personality) Doc West has a lot to do with that. He has been a great supporter of mine and he is a great patriot of blues and rock n’ roll music. Because of his hard work and dedication, it has allowed the city to have a wonderful, vibrant music scene with great music fans. It’s something that’s pretty astounding actually. The city is lucky to have this guy and he is lucky to have the city. I feel like Fort Wayne gets music. We really enjoy playing there.”
Supporting Album No. 13
Gomes is currently on tour supporting his 13th album, Peace, Love and Loud Guitars, which highlights everything fans love about Gomes — great songwriting, amazing musicianship, and an energy that permeates through the speakers with the force of a speeding freight train.
“It was released on Oct. 19,” he said, “and it was just announced that we were named number 1 album of the year by Blues Rock Review and the top album of the year by Rock and Blues Muse, two of the leading publications in our genre, so that’s quite an honor. We’re starting to pick up a lot of steam now that people are finally getting to the album and these accolades are really helping us.”
The success of the album is likely due to the approach Gomes has taken with it. While some artists are content to “stay in their lane,” with few variations in style from album to album, Gomes thinks differently, welcoming the challenge of stretching his boundaries as a musician. That challenge is one of the things that continue to motivate him.
“I treat every album like it’s the first album I’m making,” he said. “You know, with a lot of artists, their first couple of albums are their best. They are excited and haven’t lost the passion for music. But then they start to fade. With every album I make I try to challenge myself in some way to keep that same passion going. I do things to challenge myself as an artist and I try not to make the same album I’ve made before. I don’t want to do a formula or cookie cutter kind of thing. I think that makes for good albums.
“God bless AC/DC, they’re one of my favorite bands, but they joke that they’ve been making the same album for forty or fifty years. I’m not an artist that can do that and necessarily create excitement.
“As a musician you never want to end that discovery,” Gomes continued. “That idea of being inspired. And inspiration can come from anywhere.”
Passing on the blues history
The opportunities Gomes has had to meet and play with some of his famous predecessors has not only helped inspire him, but it has given him a unique perspective on the history of the blues genre and what his role should be in advancing it.
“I think the blues, more so than any other genre, being a roots music, creates a feeling of playing on the shoulders of my predecessors. B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Robert Jordan, they laid the groundwork.
“You know, like a father passing things on to their sons and mothers passing them on to their daughters, I think that we’re going to inspire another generation to carry it on and they are going to play on our shoulders. That’s the beautiful thing about the blues. It’s greater than any one artist. It’s the legacy of the genre and it’s a very powerful thing.”
Ever the self-analyzing professional, Gomes finds he hasn’t fully adjusted to being famous.
“Sometimes, I have to remind myself that fans are just like me when I’m with someone I admire, but it all seems a little awkward to me sometimes because we’re all our own worst critics. People say very complimentary things to me and I’m like, ‘I suck, man, what are you talking about?’ It’s uncomfortable but I know how it is. We have to inspire one another so anything I can do, especially for up-and-coming people, to inspire them in the way that B.B. King did to me, I would like to do.
“It’s not easy being an artist, so I want to give courage and hope to these young men and women coming up. They’re going to take a lot of crap along the way but they need to keep going.
“I feel like I’m in such a wonderful place in my career because I’m not an old man, but I’m not a young man, either. I can still look up to my elders, but I can also inspire the rookies out there. So it’s a pretty wonderful place to be.”
Gomes is looking forward to his show at C2G Music Hall on Jan. 19 with enthusiasm. When asked what fans should expect, he was again complimentary of The Fort.
“We’re always excited to play at C2G,” he said. “It’s a wonderful facility with first-rate sound and visual capabilities that are just awesome. It’s going to be spectacular. It’ll be a high-energy rock and blues spellbinding night of intense emotion. I’ll give it my best, man.”