And the Winner is…
By Blues Stalker (Monte Adkison)
Hector Anchondo always kept his eyes on the prize. Growing up on a Missouri farm, as a teen after high school his desire to play music called him and he hit the road. Taking his guitar to Omaha, he began to play and appreciate all genres of music. His passion and interest in the blues led him down the blues highway to Chicago where he brought those influences back to Omaha.
His dedication, talent, sacrifices, and determination finally resulted in recognition by winning numerous awards and the Nebraska State Blues Challenge. Representing the Omaha Blues Society in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) beginning in 2015, Hector competed three times placing first in 2020 in the solo/duo category as well as taking home the Memphis Cigar Box Award for best solo/duo guitarist.
Like so many talented artists, he has been patiently waiting to share his love of the music and demonstrate his skills in this post-pandemic period. He is ready to hit the road again and show why Hector Anchondo is a blues survivor and a fan favorite. As hurricane season is finally coming to an end in Florida, this is one you will welcome in his upcoming tour.
2020 International Blues Challenge
BS: As a veteran participant and the most recent winner of the International Blues Challenge, what advice could you give to future participants?
HA: The advice I’d give is be yourself and don’t worry too much about what others think. Some will like it, and some won’t, no matter the path you choose so why not just be yourself and truly find the ones that like you for you? You always sound better being yourself and you have a more authentic sound. Also, make sure you read the rules front to back and get plenty of metronome practice in.
BS: You represented the Omaha Blues Society in Memphis at the IBC. How important do you think blues societies are today in the music industry and what suggestions would you give them to be more relevant?
HA: Blues Societies are so important in the music industry, if it were not for them it’d be so much harder to get anywhere with your music and touring. Not only do they offer help with booking, but also setting up shows and extra gigs if needed and that can really save an entire tour. Blues Societies also connect artists with an entire network of Blues fans out there.
The Blues wouldn’t be what it is today without them. I can’t offer any suggestions to Blues Societies other than to make sure you’re on all the social media sites.
In the Market for Blues
BS: In 2015 you created your own local blues festival, In the Market for Blues, in Omaha. That festival has expanded each year to recently over 40 local, regional, and national acts at multiple venues. Can you tell us how that came about and due to current circumstances, when do you think it will happen again?
HA: That came about after my first year playing in the IBC, it was 2015 and walking down Beale Street I couldn’t help but think how the cobble stone streets and the buildings reminded me so much of the Old Market in Omaha, NE. I thought, Omaha’s Old Market would be perfect for a Blues festival and what better way to create a Beale Street, or Bourbon Street music experience right in Omaha?
The scene fit perfect. I brought the idea to Emily Cox of E3 Music Management and she loved the idea, so we worked together to make it a reality. Now it’s made possible by the Blues Society of Omaha and E3 Entertainment as well as all the wonderful sponsors. We’re hoping to get it started back up in 2021 but we will have to watch how things look at the time. It’s an honor to work with everyone and they deserve all the credit for all the hard work they do.
BS: Hector, your deep interest in the blues drew you to Chicago to learn and observe from the tradition of the old blues masters. Can you tell us about that experience and how it affected your music?
HA: That was a really great experience for me and my playing, it really got me out of my shell and help me discover more of who I am and what my sound is. I mostly observed and tried to soak it in as much as possible.
I played in jams with Mary Lane and Rockin’ Johnny and sometimes Johnny would get me up for a few songs at his shows too. Thankful for that. The person that played the biggest role in my Chicago music experience was my bassist Todd Fackler. He’d play bass for Tail Dragger at Legends and Todd would get me into the shows.
It was there I really got to soak up with the pros were doing. If Todd had not got me in on the guest list, I wouldn’t have never been able to afford to go. I also got to catch shows at Kingston Mines and lived in walking distance from Rosa’s Lounge. I learned a lot about music, myself, and life while I was out there.
Recordings and Gear
BS: Your chart-topping 2017 release, “Roll the Dice” was a real boost to your recognition on the national and international blues scene. Can you tell us what you are working on now to follow that up? Is a solo album a possibility?
HA: I’m working on my solo album now and I’m hoping for a release early next year. I have been wanting to do an acoustic solo album for a long time and with everything that’s happened this year and winning the IBC solo/duo category, it feels like the right time. So be on the lookout for the new album early next year.
BS: You are an endorsee of Delaney Guitars. For the gear heads out there, tell us about the custom axe that Mike Delaney created for you.
HA: To have Delaney Guitars endorse me is an honor and something I’m proud of, it was a big step forward in my career. My latest guitar is a Delaney Sonata, it is a beautiful guitar and I love it play it. It has a Mahogany body and a Birdseye Maple top. Delaney humbucker pickups and it is set up with a split coil feature so that I can get humbucker sound or a single coil sound. I love the versatility.
BS: Please introduce us to the Hector Anchondo touring Band…
HA: The one other full-time member of the band is Khayman Winfield, he’s been touring with me for seven years and has really hung in there. I’m thankful for his dedication and I don’t know how I’d do it without him. It’s been a lot of years since that I have had a full-time bassist.
BS: Speaking of touring, you are about to embark on a month-long tour of Florida. I know that Suncoast Blues Society fans are excited about your show scheduled for the Blue Rooster in Sarasota.
HA: I’m excited to get down to Florida and play for a while. We’re going to be living there for the winter and looking forward to meeting folks and playing as much music as I can while I’m down there. I’m also looking forward to the Blue Rooster show.
(Editor’s note: Suncoast Blues Society is sponsoring Hector Anchondo at the Hideaway Café in St. Petersburg. For tickets
BS: The pandemic has financially impacted Artists. How have you personally compensated by the loss of touring dates and gigs?
HA: I tried to drop my expenses as low as I possibly could with having a family to take care of. We moved full time in an RV to try to ride out the economic downturn. I have also been playing online shows and still playing in person shows when I can.
I try to be as safe as possible while playing and try to take every gig I can. I teach online guitar lessons too. It has been very hard to make ends meet but we’re getting through it one day at a time and thankful that I can still play some to earn a living, or at least for right now, just get by.
BS: Can fans follow you on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook?
HA: Yes, they can, and I welcome everyone to check out all the social media sites
Thank you, Hector. You are truly an inspiration for all those struggling artists who are attempting to survive doing what you love during these uncertain times. Best of luck to you!