Select Page

Blues Bands: Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets with Sam Myers

Anson Funderburgh

This is one of my favorite blues bands. They are tight and each musician plays within themselves. That’s a key to a really tight band. You never see any over-playing and Anson Funderburgh is the epitome of that simple guitar style where every note counts and there is plenty of space.

You would almost say that Anson is simplistic in his guitar playing. But just try to play like him. It takes great restraint and taste to be able to do what he does with a song and a guitar. In fact, one of my criteria for a great blues guitar player is that they play the song first and the guitar second. Anson always seems like he is playing just what the song needs.

“Funderburgh remains a musician’s musician. He’ll explode into a fiery and melodic solo, and then seamlessly recede into a song at just the right moment to propel the rhythm…he makes sure the songs both breathe and burn…a band that truly understands the essence of the genre.” – Blues Revue

The band plays very simply too. Each part is designed to be the minimum but when you put all the parts together you have a great song. That’s me, Anson and Gentleman John Street, the pride of St. Petersburg, in the picture up there to the right. That’s from a gig they did at The Ringside in St. Pete Florida. I still remember when John Street got the gig with Anson. You’d think he won the lottery. Before that he played in various bands around the Tampa Bay area, including Rock Bottom, The Telephone Kings, and others, always providing amazing keyboards. He also toured with the Greg Allman Band.

Sam Myers Passes

Unfortunately when Sam Myers died in 2006 the band changed. The band stopped working regularly and started playing more locally around Dallas Texas where they are based. Thankfully there’s some great videos available online from before he died. Here’s some of my favorites.

Here’s a recent bio from http://www.piedmonttalent.com. Go here to see more. They don’t seem to have their own website.

Anson Funderburgh and The Rockets, have earned the reputation as one of the most outstanding blues ensembles touring today. There is no question that when you speak of American blues music Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets are at the top of the list.

Despite a lengthy hiatus from touring Anson’s current configuration of the Rockets is comprised of his long standing band members Gentleman John Street on keys, Wes Starr on drums, John Bradley on bass and the latest Rocket, Greg Izor on vocals and harp.

Anson Funderburgh, a native of Texas, has spent the majority of his adult life playing the blues, with influences from blues legends such as Freddie King, Albert Collins, Jimmy Reed and Bill Doggett. Anson has earned the respect of artists like Delbert McClinton, Boz Scaggs, Jimmie & Stevie Ray Vaughan and Ronnie Earl. Over the years, these musicians have called on Anson to lend his tremendous guitar talents to their projects.

Funderburgh recorded with the Fabulous Thunderbirds on their Butt Rockin’ album, and went solo in 1981, when the New Orleans-based BlackTop label released Talk to You by Hand, the label’s first release. Funderburgh added Myers on harmonica and lead vocals in 1986. Myers had traveled for years on the chitlin circuit, where he had the chance to accompany people like Elmore James and Robert Junior Lockwood. Funderburgh admits that adding Myers on vocals and harmonica was a turning point for the Rockets, partly because of the image they project from the stage, a big towering black man and three white guys backing him up. Funderburgh continued his association in the ’90s with Black Top releasing Tell Me What I Want to Hear (1991), Live at Grand Emporium (1995), and That’s What They Want (1997). After releasing nine albums on Black Top, in 1999 Funderburgh changed record labels with the release of Change in my Pocket for Bullseye Blues, a cd which won several W.C. Handy Awards.

Since the passing of long time musical partner Sam Myers, Anson has concentrated on raising a family, working very local gigs and performing at a smattering of festivals around the world. Now Anson has caught a renewed dose of the performing bug and will begin to perform more regularly with the distinct possibility of regular tours in the coming years.

What the press has said:

“Funderburgh’s lightning licks are searing, right on target and virtually egoless a rarity in these days of guitar heroes who live for their pyrotechnic-packed solo.” –The Cleveland Scene

“Funderburgh remains a musician’s musician. He’ll explode into a fiery and melodic solo, and then seamlessly recede into a song at just the right moment to propel the rhythm…he makes sure the songs both breathe and burn…a band that truly understands the essence of the genre.” – Blues Revue

“None of the younger crop of blues guitarist come close as Anson does to achieving the classic Stratocaster tone defined by Otis Rush in the ’50’s and Magic Sam in the ’60’s. The Rockets have landed and Anson is at the bridge.” —Guitar Player

“Funderburgh & The Rockets continue to manipulate classic blues styling better than most, delicately balancing reverence with passion and creativity with economic burst of power. But what really clears the table… is Funderburgh’s inimitable guitar finesse.” – Illinois Entertainer

If you ever get a chance to see Anson Funderburgh don’t pass it up. Here’s a video of him sitting in with Duke Robillard at Chan’s in Rhode Island. Very cool chance to see two masters in action.

Here’s a couple of my favorite Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets albums.

Click To Watch A Free Lesson

2 Comments

  1. I saw him a couple of times, before you even had mentioned him to me, but while Sam was still around. Absolutely amazing how he is so melodic,bluesy, sounds so good, and is totally just in the box. How does he do it?

    Reply
    • I agree Mike… he is so tasteful!. It helps to have a great band behind him so there’s not much space that has to be filled.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *