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Sound Circuit

Anthony Gomes embraces his own style


Photo by Stephen Jensen

As a musician, Anthony Gomes has been categorized as being “too rock” in the blues genre or “too blues” in the rock and roll scene. Music critics struggled to label his music.

When he finally ditched the notion he needed to be either blues or rock, his latest album and career took off. He embraced his own style of equal parts of hard rock and equal parts blues through his shredding guitar and raspy vocals. His style, dubbed “Mississippi Delta meets AC/DC,” reflects his genre.

“People told me I didn’t fit into a box. When I stopped looking at it as a weakness, all of a sudden the floodgate opened. What people think of as a weakness is now my superpower,” he explains.

Gomes’ musical journey began when he first picked up a guitar at age 14, not because he wanted to be a rock star, but because he loved playing music. In college, he attended a jam night in Canada, receiving a free beer for jamming. 

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“If you jammed, and you were hot, you got two beers,” he recalls. “It was a two-beer night.”

While at the jam session, a stranger asked Gomes who his favorite guitarist was. At the time, Gomes admired several greats, but he named B.B. King. “The stranger said, ‘I thought so.’ He told me that he was B.B. King’s bus driver.”

After that jam session, he was introduced to the legend, and King became Gomes’ mentor. He performed opening acts for him. 

“It was a tremendous experience,” Gomes said. “He was a true mentor in all facets, both on and off the stage. He was the most gracious and humble person in my life.”

Later, in Chicago, Gomes won a contest by Buddy Guy, and this win opened the door to his musical career. 

“It was a big thing — when I could quit my day job and make a living doing this,” he says.

Since then he’s recorded 14 albums. His current album, “High Voltage Blues,” has been on the Billboard charts for 34 weeks in the top 10-15. Typically albums only last a few weeks.

“I’m like the little train who could. For whatever reason, things have taken off.” 

He was acknowledged by Guitar World as a top-30 best blues guitarist. He takes the accolades lightly. 

“If you believe the good, then you have to believe the bad things you hear,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the fans and if we’re touching people’s lives. That’s the biggest and most important part, aside from any award.”

Gomes is proud of a foundation that he created 15 years ago called Music is the Medicine. He started it as a way to impact small and modest changes by helping veterans, kids with cancer and other charitable concerns. Fans assist with donations. 

“It’s near and dear to my heart,” he said. “You might think, what is the album doing on the charts? Did we sell enough tickets? It’s a lot bigger than that. I’m proud that we can make a small difference,” he says.

He cites his core fan base supporting him over the years as his success takes off. 

“We couldn’t have made it without our core people sticking with us. I’m surprised that I’m still here 25 years later. I feel like I’m just getting started,” he reflects. “I’m a late bloomer. There’s something to be said for sticking it out this long.” 

Anthony Gomes performs at Lefty’s Sept, 22.  Tickets cost $25 in advance; $30 day of show. ♦

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