Hear Max Gomez’s Take on Blues Standard ‘Key to the Highway’ [Exclusive Premiere]
Max Gomez has been known to break "Key to the Highway" out during his live shows, but on Friday (July 30), he'll release his own studio version of the blues standard. It's premiering exclusively on The Boot; press play below to listen.
Recordings of "Key to the Highway" date back to 1940, when Charlie Segar first recorded the song; versions by Jazz Gillum and Big Bill Broonzy released around the same time feature nearly identical lyrics, but with different arrangements. It was Little Walter who made the song a hit in 1958, however, and Eric Clapton has also recorded the song several times, both with Derek and the Dominos and solo.
It's with Clapton's recording of another Broonzy song for his Unplugged album that Gomez's fascination with the musician and this song begin: "When Clapton recorded Big Bill's "Hey Hey" ... I started digging," he shares.
"After getting my hands on a few Big BIll records, it was clear to me that this man was an important figure in American music. His folk-blues songwriting and effortless guitar mastery immediately made him one of my heroes," Gomez adds. "I listened to Big Bill, then and now, with utmost respect, and hold him in the highest regard as an American folk hero."
Gomez hadn't planned to record his version of "Key to the Highway," but as he and his band were casually jamming it in the studio, his recording team got to work.
"I'm proud to be releasing this song because blues music like this always has been and always will be a big part of my life," Gomez says. "The cherry on top is that I get to pay homage to the late great Big Bill."
A native of Taos, N.M., who splits his time between his hometown and Los Angeles, Calif., Gomez released his debut album in 2013. An EP followed in 2017, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, with no tour dates to attend to, he focused on his sophomore album, the details of which are forthcoming.
In addition to making his own music, Gomez produces the Red River Folk Festival, an annual event in Red River, N.M. Fans can keep up with him at MaxGomezMusic.com.