Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Doors: 6:00 PM; Music: 7:00 PM
Advance tickets: $20 (Will Call Only)
Tickets also available at Forde Nursery or Alumni Club
Day of Show: $25 at door
Growing up on a Missouri farm, Hector Anchondo soaked up roots music, Latino music, bluegrass, and old blues. He picked up the guitar as a teen and when he graduated from high school Hector headed for Omaha to make a life playing guitar. The young guitarist started hitting Omaha jam nights every single week, where older musicians recognized his prodigious talent and took him under their wings. Within only a couple years, he had a hot original Latin and reggae band and songs on local radio.
Anchondo toured with that band almost non-stop for the next 10 years. He lived on the road, and when he wasn’t on the road, he lived on couches. He got jobs as he needed them, but quit as soon as he could get back on tour. He put off having kids. He put off marriage. Instead, he played guitar. “It was a lot of sleeping on floors, or in the van, or just driving on through to the next show,” he said.
When the recession of 2008 happened, work dried up in the music scene, and the stress took its toll on the band, which parted company. Anchondo found himself without a band, working as a dishwasher in a Cuban restaurant. That year tested his resolve more than any other. “I was kind of floundering personally.” said Anchondo. “I was like, what do I do? I had put all my eggs in that basket, into music.”
Anchondo knew his mind though. It was guitar or nothing. And, he realized, this could be the moment he finally got to do a thing he’d wanted to do all his life. He had loved the blues since he was kid and had been sneaking in blues songs at his concerts for years. He wanted to play blues full time. So he started looking for other musicians who could help him make the hard-partying kind of blues he’d always loved.
When you put your mind to doing the thing you were born to do, the universe helps. Anchondo got an unexpected call from an old friend in St. Louis. He’d been a fan of Anchondo’s Latin music but he had always loved those blues songs Anchondo snuck in even more. “He had his own little record label. He was like, ‘I have this crazy idea, tell me what you think. I want to help you put out a Hector Anchondo blues album,’” the guitarist said. “I said hell yeah, let’s do it.”
Anchondo wrote 30 songs that summer, narrowed it to five, and put out an EP called Kicking Up Dust. The album did well and he recorded Young Guns two years later. Omaha embraced Anchondo’s new direction and his tight, powerful band and sent them to the International Blues Challenge twice. In 2015 they made the semi-finals and in 2016 they made the final nine. “It felt like we won.” said Anchondo. “It was cool the amount of hype we had that whole week.”
The band started sharing stages with the biggest names in blues including Coco Montoya, Magic Slim, and the Royal Southern Brotherhood. When he went into the studio to make his most recent album, Amanda Fish joined him for what would be the opening track.
The album, Roll the Dice, was the best thing Anchondo had ever done. It was saturated with his history of blues, with flavors of latin, rockabilly, and Americana. It showcased the flawless, fluid, and brilliant style that he earned in 20 years of love and discipline. There was buzz around his band, he knew. He was on the verge of breaking onto the national scene. He wanted to release the album and make it count, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it.
Then a guy at a booking agency suggested he see if Keeping the Blues Alive winning blues publicist Frank Roszak would accept him as a client. Roszak was delighted. With the help of the high-powered publicist, Anchondo released Roll the Dice worldwide. The results were overwhelming. The album leaped to the top of blues charts, including the top 25 on the Living Blues chart, and spent many weeks on the Roots Music Report blues and blues rock charts. Critics fell over themselves to heap the album with praise, calling it “fabulous”, “inventive”, “magnificent”, and “absolutely beautiful.”
Already another album is in the works, and Anchondo is expanding his tour base. Soon audiences all over the world will get a chance to experience what Omaha fans have loved for so long: the smooth smoky voice that can make you smile even as tears fill your eyes, the audacious grooves of his powerful band, and the lyrical mastery of Anchondo’s guitar, telling the story of a life lived for the love of music.