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Visiting blues artist helps veterans, mentally ill through music

June 7, 2018 –Anthony Gomes will be bringing his own style of blues to Wabash on Saturday, June 16.

“When people say blues, they think of jazz,” Gomes said. “But we are more of a classical rock, high-energy, blues-based, hip-shaking, fist-pumping, beer-drinking good time.”

This won’t be Gomes’s first time playing at Wabash. He’s been to Excelsior Springs to play his music before and enjoys both the area and the food.

“We love it there. It’s awesome,” Gomes said, mentioning his admiration for Excelsior Springs. “We eat a lot of barbecue, because when you play blues, it goes hand-in-hand. And every place we play, the owner says it’s the best barbecue you’ve ever had. But It’s actually true when Mitch says it.” Mitch Dickey, along with Cheri McCullough, owns the popular Wabash BBQ and Blues Garden.

In addition to being an award-winning performance artist and obvious barbecue connoisseur, Gomes founded a non-profit called Music is the Medicine, an organization devoted to bringing the healing power of music to those in need.

“We’ve done several things,” Gomes said. “We’ve given to guitars and guitar instruction to war veterans suffering from PTSD. We’ve given iPads to kids at St. Jude Children’s Hospital so they can listen to music to help them through stressful times.”

A choir in Montreal, made up of mentally ill patients, has also been the beneficiaries of Music is the Medicine. The organization first purchased a PA-system, so the group could sing live. The non-profit then outfitted the hospital with a recording studio, in a program so successful that Quebec is considering taking the program province-wide.

Gomes had the chance to perform with the choir at one point. The choir learned two of his songs, and in turn, Gomes learned one of theirs. They came on stage with him, and they all sang together in a moment that Gomes said was full of healing and beauty.

“It resonates with me because my mom dealt with paranoia and schizophrenia,” Gomes explained. “So when I heard about this choir, where people with mental illnesses are dealing with challenges through music therapy, it really resonated with me.”

Since its inception, MITM in addition to directly helping children with cancer, young adults with Autism and war veterans with PTSD. The organization has funded songwriting scholarships, offered musical education programs and donated musical instruments.

By Samantha Kilgore • samantha@leaderpress.com

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