ANTHONY GOMES – “…BEFORE THE BEGINNING”
With his latest album, “…Before The Beginning”, Anthony Gomes offers a powerful collection of unplugged compositions, promising to be the artist’s most compelling work to date. “On this CD I wanted to show that there is more to our music than loud, ripping guitars. By stripping everything down, we could feature the voice and songs. I wanted to capture the spirit of the old field hollers and get back to where the music came from,” says Gomes, “We only used acoustic instruments – drums, piano, acoustic guitars and acoustic bass. The most powerful of all the acoustic instruments is the human voice. When you put the harmonies in there, it’s just soul shaking.”
Born in Toronto, Canada to a Portuguese father and a French-Canadian mother, Gomes began playing guitar in his early teens and was drawn to the blues sounds of B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. While he honed his skills in the blues bars at night, Gomes earned a master’s degree from the University of Toronto focusing on the racial evolution of blues music. He relocated to Chicago in the late ’90s to learn from the blues masters. During his brief stint as a sideman for Magic Slim and the Teardrops, Gomes put together his own group and won the first annual Buddy Guy’s Legends “Best Unsigned Blues Band” competition in 1998. Later that year, Gomes released his debut CD, “Blues in Technicolor”, which introduced him as a guitar-slinger loaded with impressive firepower.
On 2002’s “Unity”, he accomplished the album’s title with a heavy mix of styles leading Bandit Blues Radio to name it one of the Top 30 Essential Blues CDs of all time. Gomes was elevated to the top of the blues field just one year later when BluesWax Magazine named him “Artist of the Year,” an award he would claim for several years in a row due to his endless commitment and touring. “Music Is the Medicine” (2006) peaked at number four on the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart, only to be outdone by 2008’s “LIVE” debuting at number one. Last year, Gomes received critical acclaim for his release of “Up 2 Zero”. The album claimed “Best Blues CD of 2012” (A1 Blues.com) and “Best Blues Rock CD of 2012” (Blues Underground Network). Art Tipaldi, Editor of Blues Revue, declared Gomes “at the forefront of modern blues.” Anthony recently climbed to the number one position on Reverbnation’s Global Blues Chart.
Instead of following up with more of the same, Gomes boldly steps back to deliver an acoustic recording showcasing his vocals, songwriting, and acoustic guitar work. “I feel like this is my most soulful release to date. The album has a lot of weight to it. The theme is the cycle and circle of life.” The disc opens with the title track, “…Before The Beginning,” a stirring field holler equally rooted in the gospel tradition as it is the blues. Gomes follows with the upbeat “Blues Is Good” and the powerful first single “Lady Soul”. “The song was written about Aretha Franklin and how her music helped me get through some tough times. She really has been a light when the world can sometimes get dark,” says Gomes. The album includes the haunting slow blues of “Rescue Me,” the inspiring “Love Is Everything,” and the ominous “Sinner’s Song.”
The CD features another first for the singer-songwriter – his first recorded duet. “I wrote this song called “Let’s Fall in Love” and I thought it would work best as a duet. My favorite singer is Minnie Murphy from Nashville, and I thought she’d be perfect for the song. I am delighted she agreed to sing on the CD.” With the exception of three co-writes, Gomes penned the album in its entirety; a gesture he feels gives his listeners a direct line to himself as an artist. The most personal tracks on the CD are “Golden Wings” and “Beautiful Goodbye.” The former was inspired by Gomes’ survival of a massive vehicle fire while on tour this past fall, and the latter chronicles the last conversation between the bluesman and his grandmother. “My grandmother took sick when we were on the road in the middle of Montana. There was no way I could get to an airport quick enough to fly and see her. We talked on the phone and when we said good-bye we both knew it would be last time we’d speak. The world stood still for a moment.”
Releasing an acoustic album is a gutsy move for Gomes who is seen in the music community as a high energy blues rocker. The artist, however, believes that the source of the blues comes from the same place, regardless of presentation. “Musically, most people try to look ahead for inspiration, seeking out the latest cutting edge soundscape. I seem to go in the opposite direction. In awakening the sounds of Muddy Waters or Robert Johnson, I hear the future of the blues tradition. This time, we went way back. This album is so yesterday, that it’s today.”