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Anthony Gomes - Up 2 Zero

Up 2 Zero Entertainment

11 songs; 39:29 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Blues Rock

In 1997, I attended a show by Too Slim and the Taildraggers in the Chicago suburbs. An opening act played on stage while Tim “Too Slim” Langford and I chatted out back on the open-air patio. Trying to concentrate on our conversation, I kept getting distracted by the great music coming through the open door. I finally mentioned how good the guitar was, and Too Slim agreed, telling me he was well aware of the talented young Canadian as an up and comer. The opening act: Anthony Gomes.

Since that time 15 years ago, Anthony Gomes has reached stellar heights playing shows world-wide and earning a reputation for great music. He has ventured into Rock and recorded an intimate acoustic offering, but his seventh and latest album represents a full-circle return to the style of Blues Rock music that originally caught my ears. “Up 2 Zero” contains eleven tracks of which Anthony Gomes is credited either as writer or co-writer on all of them. Co-writing credits also go out to Tom Hambridge (1 Track), and Jim Peterik (5 Tracks). Here is Gomes’s love of high energy, guitar-driven Blues Rock combining straight ahead Power Blues compositions with tracks that incorporate soul-injected melodic moments.

Sending that message plainly is the opening tune “Back To the Start.” Gomes comments from his website, “I wanted to begin the CD with a powerhouse shuffle to set the tone of where we are at musically. Lyrically, the song says it all. As simple as it sounds, you have to follow your heart and I had to get back to where I started. For me, it’s the blues. I can always try different things, but I always find myself going back to where the music started.” The meaning of the album’s title, “Up 2 Zero,” is going back to the beginning touchstone for today’s performing.

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 Blues sounds from B.B. King to Stevie Ray Vaughan. While he honed his skills in Blues bars at night, Gomes earned a Master’s Degree in history 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 and to establish himself as a musician and artist. 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. Three years later, he moved to Nashville to sharpen his skills as a songwriter.

After the opening track, our next spin on the Friends of the Blues Radio Show will be Track 5, “Room 414.” Gomes explained the meaning: “... what’s the significance is of that room?” Anthony laughs, “It is actually the room number at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio where Robert Johnson recorded all his material.” Strong with Blues influences and growling vocals, this up tempo shuffle will bring both smiles and dancing feet. By overdubbing, Gomes gets to play call and response with himself in some killer guitar work.

Next up, some slower Blues in “Voodoo Moon” featuring deep Blues imagery. In the song, Gomes claims he saw “the ghosts of Clarksdale” with his own eyes. It’s a wonderful track with tasty guitar work and unearthly vocals.

“Up 2 Zero” is expertly paced with a nice mix of hard-rocking Blues and easier numbers. For example, try the slow burner “One Last Time.” “Love Sweet Love” is reminiscent to what you’d expect of something from the 1970s Southern Rock scene. And, “Darkest before the Dawn,” which updates Gomes original version on 2002’s “Unity” album, is a ballad with tender vocals ala his love of Soul and Gospel music.

Yes, Anthony Gomes is “back,” although I’m not sure he ever “left.” Talent that good does not just go away. But, in the ebb and flow of careers, Gomes is definitely back on an upswing!

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL.

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