Bluesman Hector Anchondo was born in Omaha, Nebraska and raised in the hills of the Ozark Mountains near Salem, Missouri. Anchondo has been rapidly emerging as one of the mid-western blues artists to watch for. His influences range from Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Lee Hooker to the stories told by legendary country players like Hank Williams Sr. and Johnny Cash.
Anchondo has been writing and performing since he picked up his first guitar when he was sixteen, playing shows for family, friends, pageants, premier concert halls, festivals, live radio, and live television. After graduating high school he moved back to Omaha to pursue his career and in 2000 he started the band Anchondo, his namesake. With his band he toured the country playing thousands of shows and also putting out four albums and an EP. Hector also performed many times in the prestigious South By Southwest music festival, as well as several times on the Vans Warped Tour. Hector is living out his love of music with the Blues.
A few artists Hector has performed with: Styx, CCR, Johnny Winter, Magic Slim, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Indigenous, Rockin’ Johnny, Spearhead, Blue October, Big & Rich, Fishbone, Devon Allman, Mike Zito, Cyril Neville, Shawn Holt & The Tear Drops, Samantha Fish, Hamilton Loomis, Mr. Sipp and many more. Some of his career highlights so far: -Winner of the 2013 “Best Blues Band of the Year”, award by the OEA’s – Finalist of the 2013 Nebraska State Blues Challenge -Winner of the 2014 Nebraska State Blues Challenge – Nominated for the 2014 “Best Blues Band of the Year” award by the OEA’s – Participating in the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
Hector and I have a mutual friend, Leah Koch, who has been telling me about him since I’ve known her. I checked him out, and was impressed with his dedication and tenacity, not to mention his natural chops. Hector’s got a way of making you care about his music, and about what happens to him.
In October Hector tried a KickStarter Campaign to fund a new album which didn’t work out, so they started a fundraiser with donations through Paypal. Hector also sold his car, and one of his amps to raise extra funds to make their album, which is due out before the end of this year.
I reached Hector through email for his FIVE QUESTIONS:
1) How much time do you spend practicing? How much time do you spend on the business of music?
HA – I’m on a quest to become a master musician so I spend a large portion of my week practicing, physically as well as mentally. It’s my livelihood, so it’s my job, but it makes it easy since I love it so much. I keep my guitar by my side when I’m not practicing so that I’m tempted to pick it up at any given time to get more play time in. There’s no time stamp on practice, be it a quick five minutes here or four hours there, any practice is good practice. I also study and read to find new ways to become a better musician and to hopefully take myself to the next level. There’s the technical side of becoming a great musician, but there’s a spiritual side too that I’m continuously looking for new ways to tap into on a deeper level. I’d love to be a master of the craft one day before I die. I practice all the time.
When I’m not practicing I’m on my computer, but at times my guitar is still in my lap. This is my life, everything I do is for my music and to make sure the guys in my band, and the fans are happy. I have a home office and when I’m not on the road I’m managing my social media sites, booking shows, writing, studying, and teaching my students. My friends and family get frustrated at times because I have trouble stopping my work, while hanging out I have a bad habit of answering emails, remembering a club that I need to contact, touching base on a current project, or reconnecting with an old contact. I have attention deficit disorder and I have to work that way because I’ve learned over the years that if I don’t do something the moment it comes into my mind it’ll never happen. I have to write things down or put a date in the calendar right at that moment. My family doesn’t know this, but sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night just to check and respond to emails. I feel I have to be that way because in such a competitive market you have to strive to go above and beyond to even make a small dent. I’m just a mixed Mexican Irish kid that grew up in Missouri that’s had to fight for everything I have.
2) Will you speak about your influences? How’d you develop your sound?
HA – My influences range very widely, I’ve always tried to never be a music snob and be open minded to all styles and levels. Brilliance exists everywhere and if you have a closed mind so much beauty and learning will pass you by. I grew up listening to Mexican bands like Los Tigres Del Norte and classic country music like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, and Merle Haggard. It still shines through my playing. When I was around sixteen, I discovered blues; Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Lee Hooker, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. I also pay attention to top forty pop music and think about how it taps so profoundly into the minds of the masses. Besides the repetitiveness that lodges it in peoples’ heads, I ask myself what about it is so intoxicating and how can I add that to my own music without turning it into your average run of the mill pop song? I even listen to Celtic, African, Asian, South American, and Spanish styles of music. Ieven pay close attention to novice players. You never know who you can learn from or what inspires you next. Lastly, my family, friends, andband mates influence me constantly. I pay attention to what they enjoy and how it affects them and try to learn from that and apply it to my own music. They all have good taste in music!
I’ve developed my sound by never mimicking another artist. If I learn someone else’s song, I change it up and sing or play it my way, although that really annoys the purists out there. One time when I was living out in Chicago, I was having band practice and auditioning a drummer and the guy got really mad at me cause I wasn’t playing “My Babe” by Willie Dixon exactly the way it was recorded, needless to say I opted not to go with that drummer. I believe by keeping an open mind to everything around you from big to small the music will develop itself.
3) What’s your set up and rig? What guitar(s) are your favorite?
HA – I try my best to stay true to the real sound of my guitars, I don’t like a lot of effects. I keep it simple. I have a Delux Reverb Fender 68′ reissue amp and my pedal board consists of a TS9, OCD, Crybaby, tube preamp, and sonic maximizer pedals. I love the real tone of any guitar.
My guitars are a custom Fender Strat that I’ve hand carved, a 1966 Dobro Resonator 12 string guitar, and a custom telecaster built by Joel Edison. My favorite would have to be the 66′ Dobro, it sounds like the 60s, the sound is mesmerizing and it was left at my door anonymously with a letter that said “this is yours, just play it and not hang it on a wall” I’ve been playing it ever since and its become a permanent part of my live shows.
4) What’s your personal life like? Have a family or are you a single man?
HA – My personal life is not very exciting. I work and practice all the time and my dog Hannah keeps me company. I do make it out at times to hang with family and friends, but wish I had more time with them. Again they get frustrated with me. I do I think about them all the time, I hope they don’t ever give up on me and know that I wish I could spend more time with them. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to give back to them.
I don’t have a family of my own and have never had children. My love has only ever been my music. I’m single and have mostly always been so. I love music so much that there’s not much room left in my heart for someone. Maybe one day I’ll meet the right girl and be able to have the best of both worlds. Until then I’m going to stay the course.
5) You’ve got a new project in the works. Can you tell us about that? How is it dealing with fund raising? Goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
HA – Yes, my new album “Young Gun” is in the works. I’m really focusing on the vibe and feel of this album rather than have a shiny picture perfect album. The most important part of a good record is how it feels, because if you can’t move the listener then it’s not going to make much of an impact, in my opinion. Not trying to be fancy, just letting the music sound like it does when it’s played live. My band and I went in, set up, and recorded the record in one day like the old school guys and gals used to do. We’ll see how everyone takes to it.
The fund raising has taken some getting used to, I can’t help but feel like somewhat of a failure because I wasn’t able to raise the money myself to make it happen… but I’ve tried to get past that and remind myself that I’m trying to compete against bands that have record labels and endless resources. When I think about that I realize that I need my community’s support in order to take on the big boys and girls. One day I hope to give back to my community in a big way. I couldn’t do it without them and they all mean so much to me.
Making new music, keep hitting the road, more festivals, finally cracking into that next impenetrable blues club, making new friends, and rolling around in a new van. A nice van is a musician’s Cadillac, I get so excited when I see a nice van.
Five years from now I hope to be making new fans, be a much better musician, touring with some big acts gaining mass exposure, a European tour, and rollin’ in my new caddy! We’ll see what happens!