Most long time readers of B&V know that we love our rock and roll around here. As I’ve often admitted to all of you, most of the rock and roll that I love and that I consider to be the greatest is built on the roots of the blues. Whether it’s the Stones, Cream or the Allman Brothers, I can still hear the blues in the music. While I focus most of my attention on rock and roll in these pages, I still need that blues fix now and again. I tend to agree with what John Belushi said, “I suggest you go out and buy as many blues albums as you can.”
I like to think I have a pretty thorough lay of the land when it comes to rock and roll and frankly, the blues. Kansas City has some great blues clubs and in more normal times I used to hang out at places like Knuckleheads listening to live music. I like to think I know whose out there currently playing the blues. Although admittedly I only just recently got into Joe Bonamassa (Concert Review: Joe Bonamassa & The 4 Horsemen of the Salinapocalypse Slight Return). When reviewing an album I tend to talk about my longstanding experience with the artist and their music. In this particular case, a friend of mine just turned me onto Anthony Gomes, an artist I hadn’t stumbled across yet.
I went to a wedding in Vail a few years ago. It was a friend of my wife and daughter’s and I didn’t know anybody there. I was really just there for the party, I had no emotional investment in the affair. After being in 14 weddings in my life merely attending a wedding is old hat. I had no expectations going into that weekend but what a great time. On the Saturday before the wedding a group of us went down to sit on the patio of the Red Lion, my favorite Vail tavern. Amongst the many great people I met that day was a woman who sat down next to me while I was sipping a martini. It turned out this woman, who I’ll call Karen (name changed to protect the guilty) was a huge music fan too. Karen turned out to be one of my favorite people on the planet. Months later, I met her main squeeze, a man I’ll call Lenny (again, name changed to protect the guilty). Lenny and Karen had me over to their home one night for a party and the evening ended up inspiring me to finally start this blog (“No Hassles Guaranteed”, the Ozark Music Festival of 1974, How did I not know about this?). They’ve become very good friends and I’ve even traveled down to Florida to the Villages to see them. It was Lenny who texted me a few weeks ago asking for my address. A few days later I got a CD…
I am constantly humbled and thrilled when my friends and readers turn me onto great music. I had heard both Karen and Lenny mention a musician named Anthony and I always thought it was someone’s nephew they spoke so familiarly about him. There might have been drink involved with my confusion. Karen and Lenny like to party. I finally realized they’d been talking about a great guitarist/singer/songwriter from Canada, Anthony Gomes. I’m not sure but I think Lenny even played some Gomes for me the last time I saw them down in the Florida Keys. I remember hearing a lot of Lynyrd Skynyrd that weekend but I’m getting off track here.
I have to say, I really dig this new Gomes LP, Containment Blues. The title track may be the perfect statement on today’s pandemic-era. It’s a tasty little acoustic guitar fueled blues track. Playing with Anthony on his new LP, just out October 16th are: bassist Jacob Mreen, drummers Bobby Stone Jr & Chris Whited, keyboardist Gabriel Crespo, and harmonica player Hector Ruano amongst others. I love that Anthony writes all his own stuff – this is all original material. I know people think of blues albums as being cover heavy. It was a thrill to hear a blues guy writing new, original, timely material. This is the perfect album for those of you out there who are in self-containment lockdown like me.
The first two tracks grabbed me right out of the chute – “Make A Good Man (Wanna Be Bad)” is a rollicking blues-rock track that sets the tone and “Hell And Half Of Georgia,” is a rocking Black Crowes-y kinda vibe. I look forward to the day when I can hear that one live. Gomes doesn’t just confine himself to the blues idiom… “This Broken Heart of Mine” is a soulful ballad reminiscent of something Sam Cooke would have done. “Praying For Rain” is a track that will be guaranteed to start a singalong and needs to be added to our B&V Rainy Day playlist (B&V Playlist: Rainy Day Songs (Or, All The Rain Songs)). Speaking of getting outside the pure blues idiom, “Praying For Rain” even features a banjo.
“No Kinda Love” is a straight-up, dirty blues song. I love Ruano’s harmonica on this track. “Let Love Take Care of Love” is a single to my ears. As a man who has a mother, wife and daughter I am totally in agreement with the sentiment of “Stop Calling Women Bitches and Hoes.” I’d have liked to hear Koko Taylor sing that one…ah, what could have been. “Tell Somebody” starts with drums and handclaps and it’ll grab you. It’s got a swampy vibe that I really dug.
This is again, the perfect lockdown album. I think to describe it as merely a “blues” album might be misleading. This is a well-played, textured LP. Yes, it’s blues-centric but I hear soul and rock and roll in some of these tracks. I would urge everybody out there to do what I’m going to do now that I’ve been turned onto Anthony Gomes – check out this album and the rest of his extensive 20+ year catalog. I look forward to sitting down with Lenny and Karen in Florida sometime in the not too distant future and turning this one up loud with them.
Be safe out there. These are crazy times. And yes, “buy as many blues albums as you can.” Cheers!