Words and pictures by Duane Clawson
With the amount of live music I have seen in my lifetime, it takes something really special to get my attention. Last Sunday night at BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups, I knew I had witnessed something special but there was a problem. I could not figure out how this show stacked up against other great shows I have attended over the past 32 years. So I took five days to think this over. Conclusion: Anthony Gomes (AG) easily takes a spot in my list of top ten favorite guitar players. Now with that being said, I have seen some of the best: Eddie Van Halen, Rik Emmett , Tony Iommi, and Keith Richards, to name a few. So, for Mr. Gomes to move into my top ten list, he must be pretty good. What makes Anthony special is that he borrows a little bit from the blues, as well as the rock guitar gods and shapes these pieces into something that is uniquely his own. A vast majority of Anthony’s live show was dedicated to his own large catalogue of original tunes but he does take the time during his set to pay tribute to those that have influenced his musical career. AG is touring currently in support of his forthcoming album Up 2 Zero.
Anthony began his journey in Toronto, Canada followed by a relocation to Chicago in the late 90’s. When Anthony takes a break from his relentless touring schedule, he now calls St. Louis home. As Anthony walked into BB’s, it was clear that he has been well received by St. Louis as the place was packed. After about 15 minutes of handshakes and hugs, Anthony finally made his way to BB’s stage. With little delay, the makeshift but very polished band of Roger Femali (drums) and Scot Sutherland (bass) backed AG on “Back to the Start” and “Love Sweet Love”, both songs from the new album. Anthony produced the first Jimi Hendrix tribute of the night with a darn near perfect version of “Purple Haze”, complete with Mr. Gomes using his dental work as a replacement for a guitar pick during the solo. With the fire and brimstone of a sidewalk preacher, AG kicked off “Loves Got the Power”, a song that would be at home in any church of soul. “Bluebird (Flyaway)” is an extended blues jam that encourages much audience participation and a brief breakdown that included “Amazing Grace.” Just to make sure everyone would stick around to see what happened next, AG closed out the first set with “Testify.” This song features machine gun guitar riffs that nicely warm the tubes in a Marshall half stack.
If you can, think about the sound of Hendrix on a wah-wah pedal and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar. Between those two guitar styles you would hear the song “Painted Horse,” which led off the second set. Following up, a song that spoke to me on a personal level and a phrase that couldn’t be more true, “Music is the Medicine.” Anthony pulls out all the stops to finish up set number two. Producing a slightly abused looking white Fender Stratocaster for his take on “Voodoo Chile”, Anthony stretched this guitar and his abilities to the limit. The guitar, at one point, wound up face down on the stage of BB’s, begging to be spared. Anthony then placed this wailing guitar on its back and proceeded to poke and prod every imaginable tone known to man from this dying instrument. Just as one would think this guitar was going to find its way into someone’s wood pile, Anthony slowly revives this classic American six-string but not before tweaking out a few more weeps and wails. Anthony and the band then took a well-earned break before retaking BB’s stage. To cement his place in my top ten list, Anthony played an extended version of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” As the night was finishing up, AG recognized the talents of a 15-year old guitar prodigy from Schaumburg, Illinois. Sean Ryan McKee joined Anthony, Roger, and Scot onstage. Anthony gave the kid full run of the stage as he put down his guitar and let the youngster show St. Louis what he was capable of. Anthony demonstrated that he was a class act, a musician putting his ego aside so someone else can shine, let alone a 15-year old kid, is about as cool as it gets.
A huge round of thanks to Rhonda Pierce, for inviting me to cover the show. Rhonda has a sixth sense of timing and composition when behind the camera and she is Anthony’s designated live performance photographer. Thanks also to Anthony for allowing me to cover this show as well as BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups. Pictures of the show are below:
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Anthony Gomes @ BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on 4:09:00 PM Rating: