You might be forgiven if you think Hector Anchondo just blew up out of nowhere. In the last two years, the Omaha guitarist has landed on everyone’s radar, with all the markings of becoming the “next big thing.”
He won the International Blues Challenge in 2020 in the solo/duo category. He’s been nominated for a slew of prestigious awards lately, including for a BMA for best acoustic blues album; a Blues Blast award for best acoustic guitarist and best acoustic album, and for an Independent Blues Award for best acoustic blues, all in 2021. And his most recent album, “Let Loose Those Chains,” debuted at 11 on the Billboard Blues chart last year. It all seems like it happened overnight.
It is said, though, that behind every overnight success is a decade of hard work. Behind Hector Anchondo is more than 25.
His band won the right to represent Omaha’s powerful blues society at the International Blues Challenge in 2015. They made the semi-finals. Then, the following year, they made it to the finals and won third place. Opportunities began to pour in. Anchondo got to appear on festival line-ups with legends like Buddy Guy and Tab Benoit, and he won endorsements from major music equipment makers including GHS strings and Delaney guitars.
Then, in 2020, Hector entered the International Blues Competition as a solo artist, just him and his guitar.
He not only won the IBC, but he also won the Cigar Box Guitar Award, given to the best overall guitar player out of the 400 or so acts from around the world who enter each year.
Joining the small, elite circle of IBC winners is a career-making moment. For Hector, it also validated that choice he’d made back in high school, to follow his passion no matter the cost, and all the tough choices ever since.
“Winning this feels like a reward for having stuck with music for 24 years,” Anchondo said. “I had flashbacks of all the journeys, sleeping on floors, years of sleeping in the van, overnight drives, no pay, credit card debt for the cause, broken-down vans, the list goes on.”
Now, is tours cover the entire US and Canada. He has been nominated for all of blues music’s top awards, include the BMA, the Independent Blues Music Awards, and the Blues Blast Awards. He cracked the Billboard Blues Chart with a #11 hit record with the most recent “Let Loose Those Chains.”
And in 2022, his hometown of Omaha showed their continuing love for the local guy who is becoming a legend, honoring him in the city’s Arts and Entertainment Awards as Artist of the Year.
“I’m proud that I never gave up,” Anchondo reflects now. “There were times of self-doubt and even a couple times where I questioned if I should change my path. My love of music and performing kept me focused on the blues path. My goals are to keep pushing myself to be a better musician, to push to keep growing so I can pay my bandmates more. Most of all, to keep making people happy so they can forget about all the day-in and day-out complexities that make up our daily lives.”