Hector Anchondo won first place for solo/duo performance at the 35th Annual International Blues Challenge (IBC), held in Memphis, Tenn., by The Blues Foundation.
Anchondo, representing the Blues Society of Omaha, competed against over 200 acts Jan. 28 – Feb. 1, to take home first place in the solo/duo category. He also garnered the Memphis cigar box guitar award for best acoustic solo/duo guitarist.
His previous appearances at the IBC included a prestigious finalist performance in the band category (among the top eight vote-getters performing in the IBC finals in 2016). The Hector Anchondo Band also made it to the semifinals in 2015. The International Blues Challenge finals are judged by a panel of blues industry professionals according to criteria established by The Blues Foundation.
“I’m so honored by this award,” Anchondo said. “I love what I do, music in my passion and not very many people get this recognition. It’s truly an honor and I’m just so happy right now, overwhelmed with pride and thanks to all my fans and the people that support my music.”
Growing up on a Missouri farm, Anchondo soaked up roots music, Latino music, bluegrass and old blues. He picked up the guitar as teen, and as soon as he finished high school (Salem High School class of 2019), he headed for Omaha, to make a life playing guitar. When the recession of 2008 happened, work dried up in the music scene, and the stress took its toll. Anchondo found himself without a band, working as a dishwasher in a Cuban restaurant.
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.
Anchondo wrote 30 songs that summer, narrowed it to five, and put out an EP called “Kicking Up Dust.” The album did well; he did “Young Guns” two years later. The band started sharing stages with the biggest names in blues, including Coco Montoya, Magic Slim and the Royal Southern Brotherhood. “Roll the Dice” is saturated with his history of blues, with flavors of Latin, rockabilly and Americana. It showcases the flawless, fluid and brilliant style that he earned in 20 years of love and discipline. The album leaped to the top of blues charts, including the top 25 on the Living Blues chart, and has spent many weeks on the Roots Music Report blues and blues rock charts.