Gomes infusing rock into the blues
He comes to C2G after releasing the best blues album of the year
Photo by Stephen Jensen
March 12, 2020
More than two decades into his career, Anthony Gomes is riding high with his most successful album yet, Peace, Love & Loud Guitars, released in 2018.
Named the Best Blues Album of that year by Blues Rock Review, Gomes has been touring in support of it ever since.
Gomes returns to C2G Music Hall on March 21 to show off some of the songs from that album along with some of the hits that have spanned and influenced his career.
While Gomes and his music are deeply rooted in the blues, he has infused a true rock element into his songs to make them more modern sounding, appealing to a wider audience in the process.
While the blues audience tends to skew to an older demographic, you’ll find a lot of younger audience members at just about every Gomes show, rocking alongside the old blues guard and enjoying it just the same.
In a recent interview with Whatzup, Gomes said the blues/rock he performs is a reflection of the way the industry is trending, despite what you may have been told.
“Everything is more rocked up now,” Gomes said. “Country music is more rocked up. You go see the symphony and they do the music of David Bowie or Led Zeppelin instead of traditional classical music. I think the rock edge is appealing to people. The essence of our music is blues and is based on soul and emotion and feeling, but it’s rocked up. It’s loud. It’s in your face, too, which in many ways is everything the blues was in the ’30s and ’40s, but just with modern technology.”
When confronted by the recent headline-grabbing phrase, “Rock is dead,” Gomes refutes the notion by looking at what is happening in the industry today.
With Def Leppard and Motley Crue, groups that haven’t had hits in thirty years, selling out stadiums, he says, it’s impossible to say that their isn’t still a strong heartbeat in the genre. It’s simply that rock music is not being pushed on us in the way other genres are being presented.
“The powers-that-be have decided they don’t want to market this music or that it’s not in vogue,” he said. “It’s lifestyle music that gets marketed, like country or rap music, that talks about how you should live your life. Rock music to me is a bit more cerebral and it gets you to think about deeper issues, not that Mötley Crüe are necessarily cerebral, but there are a lot of bands out there that definitely are.”
Still just beginning
Gomes has accomplished a lot in his career and has played with the likes of his hero B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Robert Plant, Jonny Lang, Robert Cray, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, but he is still surprised when people ask him to reflect back on the past instead of discussing the future.
“It’s funny because I feel like I’m just beginning,” he said. “I’m in my late 40s and I feel like the party’s just getting started. It’s just taken that long to get here.
“Some careers are like that. Bonnie Raitt’s was like that and Buddy Guy’s was like that where it wasn’t until they were in their 40s or 50s that they made the music that defined their careers. So while it’s great to have accomplished a lot of things so far, it’s exciting to feel like you’re still relevant and yet you’re experienced. It’s an amazing combination.”
Because his guitar playing and songwriting have always been the centerpieces of his music, Gomes seldom gets the attention he deserves for being a great blues singer as well.
While he was a reluctant vocalist at first, he finds it is now just a natural extension of his guitar.
“When I was 26, I opened my mouth for the first time to sing because I was in a rock band and I wanted to play blues and nobody wanted to sing in my blues band. I was a big fan of Albert Collins and he wasn’t necessarily Pavarotti or anything, so I felt like I could give it a shot. If Albert Collins could sing and do it with a lot of soul and emotion, maybe I could do it too.”
It seems to have worked out just fine.
“I look at my voice and guitar as an extension of the same thing these days.”
New music coming soon
There is new music on the horizon for Gomes. He is about half way through recording his 14th album, which is slated for release in November. It will be similar in style to the last two albums as he seems to have really found his groove with that sound.
With the best album of his career now settling into the rearview mirror, the question becomes, how do you top it?
“A lot of hard work and dedication,” Gomes said. “You try to do the best that you can. It’s great after 20 years to have had the best album of your career, but then following it becomes a challenge. I feel really positive about the next release though. I feel like fans of the last one are really going to dig the new one.”
Oh, there’s one more thing. Gomes loves Fort Wayne. There’s no doubt about that fact as you can hear the excitement he has in his voice when asked about playing here.
He credits Doc West with being one of the first people in the country to play his music.
“When there was like seven people in the world who knew who we were, Doc was one of them and he has been in our corner ever since,” Gomes said. “He’s such a wonderful, wonderful person in the community for Fort Wayne and we love to play C2G because it’s just such a first-rate, wonderful facility with amazing production.”