If you go
What: Dave Alvin and Max Gomez radio taping
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: eTown Hall, 1535 Spruce St., Boulder, 303-443-8696
More info: etown.org
Max Gomez has been playing in bars since he was 15, playing at a higher professional level since he was 20 and now, at 25, he’s released his debut album and will be part of an eTown show.
His story is unique in the details, but as these things usually go, his path was combination of hard work and meeting the right people. He’d travel the country, playing gigs and making connections, waiting for the right thing to come along.
“It’s a crazy, crazy world and you have to be real cautious about where you end up and who ends up working with you or influencing you and who allows you to be yourself,” Gomez said.
One of the right places turned out to be Nashville, Tenn., and the right people were a manager and Shawn Mullins (think “Rockabye”).
“I’ve had a manager in L.A. who always helped give me direction and kept me busy coming up with new songs. I did things like travel to Nashville and wrote songs with other songwriters. I met Shawn Mullins, who became a friend of mine and we worked together. I got some of my songs recorded and released on some of his latest records. We actually co-wrote together. That was my first little big break, if you will.”
“I remember listening to him play on eTown years ago and hearing him say some nice things about me and just being on cloud nine.”
Austin was a helpful place, too. Gomez has played official showcases at South By Southwest for the past two years, but it was the year prior that helped get the ball rolling. A small, unofficial gig would put him in front of his record label.
“I loaded up my car with my guitar and a bunch of friends of mine. I had one gig booked at little dive bar that sold out at 45 people or something,” he said. “The story goes that during my last song, during my short little set at that dive bar, this fella named Gary Briggs walked in and heard my last song, which was this song of mine called “Rule The World.” And Gary, he’s the A&R guy for New West Records and allegedly the song stuck in his head, and six months or so later, I was staying in a hotel in L.A. and having dinner meetings with New West Records and I signed a deal with those guys. It wasn’t such a bad trip.”
With New West’s help, Gomez’s debut record, Rule The World, was released in January, on a night that he happened to be playing in Denver. The folk music on the album showcases his charming voice, intricate guitar work and lyrics that are a bit more abstract than the modern folk rock genre he works in.
“I don’t know if I do it consciously or not, but to me, all the best songwriters write songs where you can interpret your own story or just about any story into the lyrics, and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Gomez said.
The single “Run From You” is one of his more direct songs, but Gomez said that when it came time to make the video, the director wanted to give it that everyone’s-story appeal. The director was Kiefer Sutherland — more famous for his acting, but also a guitar player.
“That song kind of has somewhat of a straightforward story to me. It’s about a person that I should have, you know, to put it bluntly, I should have run from,” Gomez said. “[Kiefer] wanted to incorporate a different story into it than just my own story. Basically, based on something that other people can put their own story into … Kiefer doesn’t get out of bed for very many jobs.”
Gomez was worth it. He has talent that’s carried him to this point, but his story shows just how much friends have meant along the way. When he takes the stage at eTown Hall on Sunday, he’ll be backed by his friend and producer Jeff Trott. If you can’t get tickets to the taping, check Gomez out at Albums on the Hill for Record Store Day on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.