Singer-guitarist Anthony Gomes lives by that credo of truth as an artist, constantly challenging himself to expand his explorations of heart and sound. His latest album Music Is The Medicine will arrive in stores on August 8th and will be followed by an extensive North American tour. The new collection of songs raises the bar and reaches beyond it, taking all he’s discovered in enduring American sounds and applying that knowledge and experience to create a vibrant, contemporary masterwork of blues-based rock, soul and R&B.
“I wanted to find my way with roots music,” Anthony says. “When I started playing, I was a purist. In this journey I have come full circle by fusing roots and contemporary sounds. It’s like studying philosophy and going from Descartes back to the start with Aristotle.”
Growing up in Toronto, Canada, Anthony’s musical sojourn began unexpectedly. “For my 14th birthday, I wanted a computer and I was doing well in school, so my Dad got me a guitar as a surprise. Then, I surprised him. I fell in love with music and became very dedicated.” Like many teen boys, his fire was fueled by what he calls, with a twinkle in his eye, “testosterone rock.” His first stage appearance came in high school on band night, his group cranking out the likes of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. He also was inspired to start writing original songs. The band won a local radio station contest, earning prize money and a chance to open for Bon Jovi, but Anthony decided it wasn’t his path to follow. “I quit the band before that. My heart wasn’t in it. I want to get more into a roots thing.”
Anthony headed to the US in the late 1990s, first settling in Chicago and winning Buddy Guy’s Legends 1998 “Best Unsigned Blues Band” competition. After several years Gomes traveled down south to Nashville for yet another perspective on music. He explains, “I moved to Chicago to be a better musician and moved to Nashville to learn more about songwriting and be in that community.”
Anthony also released his first three albums, all varied with a genuine personal vision of the blues and beyond. His 1998 debut, Blues In Technicolor introduced him as a guitar-slinger loaded with impressive firepower. Instead of following up with more of the same, Gomes boldly stepped back for an intimate acoustic offering in 2000 with Sweet Stringin Soul. And on 2002’s Unity he began to achieving the album’s title with a heady mix of styles that led Banditbluesradio to name it one of the Top 30 essential blues CDs of all time.
Produced by Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana,) every one of the 12 tracks on Music Is The Medicine bristles with that thrill of discovery and exploration, a testimony to the healing power of music to uplift, console, move and motivate the spirit. Most of the songs are Anthony’s collaborations with other gifted writers, including Mark Selby (Dixie Chicks, Kenny Wayne Shepherd), Bruce McCabe (Jonny Lang, Bonnie Raitt) and Tom Hambridge (Susan Tedeschi, Johnny Winter) and Jim Peterik (founder of both Ides of March and Survivor and hit-writer for .38 Special, Sammy Hager and many more.)
One of the key songs on the new CD is the searing, yet thoughtful “War on War.” Comments Gomes, “We actually recorded it last summer and Jim Gaines said, ‘y’know, a protest song, you’ve got to be careful.’ But it’s not coming from a political perspective as much as a spiritual one. I played it for him and he said ‘let’s start rolling-tape.’ Almost a year later, the song’s theme couldn’t be more topical. Protest songs are in vogue now, yet this is a testament to the true spirit of being honest to your art. I’m very proud of the statement behind it.”
Another track central to the album’s essence is “Bluebird.” “Every CD an artist makes has a breakthrough song and ‘Bluebird’ was the song that came out in this session,” Anthony says. “It set the tone for the CD; when it was born, it opened up the rest of disc. Bluebirds are a symbol of happiness and one can take it on many different levels—in relationships, as a spiritual thing—the idea of flight, the underlying theme of flight and the quest of a person to find that happiness in their own life through a relationship or spiritually and those are not mutually exclusive.
“We have a mission statement with our music,” he says. “For us, it’s a new twist on old ideal, the stuff John Lennon was talking about as well as Woodstock. Music IS the medicine. It holds together a community. I believe that music can change the world. It’s a powerful soul sonic force.”