Art & Culture

‘The Voice’ contestant rocks Hollister coffee shop

Be True Cafe hosts Johnny Sanchez for a two-hour performance.

Local musician and “The Voice” contestant Johnny Sanchez rocked Be True Cafe on Oct. 11 with a two-hour set. About 50 people showed up to tap their feet and nod their heads to the beat.

Sanchez, 30, began playing guitar at age nine and was performing at street festivals by age 10. Over the last several years, he has built a local fan base that has only grown since his Oct. 1 tryout for “The Voice.”

Under orange Halloween lights, amid the scent of pumpkin spice, Sanchez sang a selection of classic rock, soft rock and a little reggae. He performed covers of hits from The Beatles, The Eagles and more. He closed out the set with Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away,” giving everybody the beat to free their souls. 

Sanchez said he went on television to inspire others to follow their dreams and take risks when needed. Of the 40,000 artists chosen to try out for the show as it toured the country looking for contestants, Sanchez was one of 80 musicians invited to Los Angeles to audition for the judges.

“When I tried out for ‘The Voice’ it was such a community thing,” Sanchez told BenitoLink. “Which was the big win for me. It was not so much about a chair turning around, it was more about just going for it. I hope my little cousins, nieces and nephews will see that one day and think, ‘I should go for it too.’” 

It was a surreal, yet great experience, Sanchez said, noting that the contestants were well taken care of. He said he’s always been a fan of Gwen Stefani, one of the coaches on the show, and was happy to meet her. 

“We did about six hours of interviews and when you see the final product, you get just a little snippet of this whole thing.”

When he is not performing, Sanchez takes care of his three-year-old twin sons and works for the city of Hollister. “The Voice” summed that up as, “he fills potholes.” He said he was happy to play at Be True Cafe because, like him, its proprietors are chasing their dreams.

At the show, local Elvira Busttillos told BenitoLink she was there to support local business and community. She said the cafe is always “comfortable, calm and relaxing,” and looked forward to hearing Sanchez perform.

Cindy Shear, another local, said she saw Sanchez’s television audition and thought he sounded a little nervous and that that held him back. After the Be True performance, asked if she enjoyed the show, Shear said, “Oh God yes! Yes, yes, yes.”

Be True co-owner Luis Gutierrez called Sanchez’s local performance “awesome.”

“He did a great job following the dream,” Gutierrez said.

Sanchez’s Oct. 1 audition can be seen here. He performs Wednesdays at The Grillin & Chillin Alehouse on McCray Road in Hollister.

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Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.