FRANK GOMEZ - Under the Influence
Big Frank Gomez takes it back. Way back. The unsung Austin, Texas blues hero has been a working musician since childhood, when he was taken under wing of one Sergeant Venible, a gentle, Black bluesman who taught him guitar. Hitting his stride roughly 40 years later, he issues his first major solo album and offers advice gleaned from Seinfeld.
“There was one show where he [Seinfeld] said, "If you’re not a genius, surround yourself with geniuses.” And on his latest salvo, he delivers a straight-ahead dose of Texas rhythm & blues laced with a healthy load of Tex-Mex funk & soul that includes guest turns by Ruben Ramos of the Texas Revolution, Texas Tornados' Augie Meyers, Los Texmaniacs' and Producer Max Baca, David Farias of the famed La Tropa F, and five-time Grammy Award-winning accordion maestro Flaco Jimenez. Produced at Blue Cat Studios, Under the Influence, as the record is aptly called, gives newcomers and old fans a pitch-perfect glimpse at a rollicking Texas barnburner bluesman who has finally called in his chips and reunited with his musical brethren on both sides of the radio dial.
Raised on military bases throughout the U.S. and Europe, Frank Gomez and his younger siblings —encouraged by their father who bought them instruments and inspired by an uncle who played sax in the Tejano orchestras of the big band era—built on the adage that a family who plays together, stays together.
Having lived in Austin during high school, the Gomez family eventually made it back to Central Texas in the mid-’70s touring across the country to play in juke joints, bars and army base canteens, Big Frank also absorbed the music that surrounded him at home. “I always loved Tejano,” he says. Hooking up as an occasional sideman with the Ramos clan, perhaps Austin’s most notable Tejano export, Gomez also heard and admired the music of Little Joe y La Familia, Shorty & the Corvettes and Augustin “El Guti” Ramirez. Falling under the influence of the music that was in his bones as deeply as were the blues and soul, he actively sought out Tejano heavy-weights, among them Jay Perez, Freddy Fender, David Lee Garza and the late Randy Garibay, the artist he is most often compared to.
When his brothers retired from music in 1998, about five years after the death of their father, Big Frank continued to play. While he was in consistent demand as a guitar slinger, he was also busy composing. The album is a testament to the length and breadth of his career and his talent as a songwriter. Featuring what has become his signature song, the Bobby Bland hit, “Stormy Monday,” Under the Influence also features six original songs, an Augie Meyers-penned tune called “Hey Sarita” and three covers. Among the latter are the Wilson Pickett hit “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool Ya” and “Barranquillero,” a traditional cumbia sung by none other than the legendary Ruben Ramos. Tejana sweetheart Stefani Montiel leaves her incomparable mark with background vocals on four of the album’s tracks.
Although Gomez is proud of the company that has joined him on his triumphant solo debut, he is also pleased that he was able to coax his brothers, Joe and Danny Gomez, out of retirement for a guest appearance on the record as well. The album has the smooth consistency of a slow, mellow buzz, the drift of its horns, steel strings and solid bass lines like an aged brandy. Compelling and playful at the same time, Under the Influence is a delicious blend of vintage legends and the edgy, as yet unseen energy emanating from the hollow body electric Gibson 333 guitar Big Frank Gomez lays into time after time.
Still going strong, he admits that when his mother, now a proud cancer survivor, began radiation treatment, he shuttered his successful auto garage while he drove her to and from chemotherapy sessions. As a result, he began playing music again full-time. “In a way, I was lucky. I was forced into doing what I’d always wanted to do when I was young, play music,” he says. “I’m very proud of this record. And I look forward to going on the road behind it.”
Frank Gomez Music
P.O. Box 17606
Austin, Texas 78760
Under the Influence
Executive Producer: Frank Gomez
Producer: Max Baca
Recorded, Engineered and Mixed By: Joe Trevino, Blue Cat Studios, San Antonio, Texas
Mastered By: Billy Stull, Masterpiece Mastering, South Padre Island, Texas