Editor’s Note: “In depth at Utalent Records” is a weekly column highlighting the 2018–2019 student artists under the UT record label, Utalent Records.
To most college students, the countless fliers and posters lining campus and city streets have long since blended into the background. For Thomas “Tommy” Sanchez, a Utalent Records flier pinned to a light post on his way to class was the difference between a simple hobby and a childhood dream.
Business freshman Tommy Sanchez is one of five student artists signed to Utalent Records, UT’s only student-run record label, during this school year. After seeing a flier for Utalent on a light post near his dorm, Sanchez auditioned with the hope it would serve as an open door to Austin’s live music scene. A self-described old soul and “musical mutt,” Sanchez’s musical style is a mixture of country, jazz, blues and rock.
Sanchez’s main musical influences — Stevie Ray Vaughan, Blues Brothers and The Beatles — were first introduced to him by his father at a young age. He said the songs he listened to growing up helped inspire his aspirations to perform onstage.
“(‘Johnny B. Goode’) was one of those songs that I would sing, but I would change it to ‘Tommy B. Goode’ when I was a kid,” Sanchez said. “That became the dream, to be like that little boy who grows up playing guitar and maybe one day my name will be in lights.”
Sanchez began playing piano and guitar before age 10, and although he also played the saxophone in high school, he’s remained most passionate about the guitar. Much of his guitar skill was self-taught, but Sanchez said Tony Morales, his high school jazz band director, was his musical mentor and helped expand his horizons.
Morales taught him throughout his four years of high school. He said Sanchez was an astute musician and had a refreshing outlook on the classic rock styles people know and love.
“There’s still so much for (Sanchez) to uncover about himself as a musician, frontman and as a singer-songwriter,” Morales said.
Sanchez plans on releasing an original three-song EP in March that will showcase his versatility by including rockabilly, soul and 1960s pop musical stylings. He said the goal of his music is to build upon his musical influences in order to keep those genres alive.
Aerospace engineering freshman Robert Estrada is Sanchez’s songwriting partner and the two have been close friends since high school. He’s helped write for Sanchez’s upcoming EP and said Sanchez has evolved into a more confident artist both on and off stage.
“(Sanchez has) become more charismatic and less nervous,” Estrada said. “(He’s) gaining inspiration from his experiences, and it’s changing him for the better.”
Sanchez regularly performs Monday nights at the Cactus Café & Bar’s Open Mic. He’s also looking to form a stable band that will allow him to perform his original songs and covers.
Upon graduating, Sanchez hopes to use his business degree to help run and maintain venues that keep regional genres like Texas blues or western swing alive for the next generation of artists and fans.
Sanchez said he doesn’t have to be the world’s most famous artist to know success.
“(Success is) playing with one of my heroes in one of my favorite venues,” Sanchez said. “Or when the crowd goes ‘Go, Tommy, go.’ Then I’ve made it.”