You don't miss your water
New Year's Eve gigs are plums for musicians and bands. Banner business nights, they usually pay quite well, and the band that lands one close to home can usually minimize road expenses while spending most of the holidays with friends and family. So when Moon Under Water folded faster than one of Mike Tyson's sparring partners, it left blues guitarist Anson Funderburgh, his Rockets, and vocalist Sam Meyers in more than the usual canceled-gig lurch.
It's easy to get tired of the blues here in Dallas, a locale so crowded with clubs, jam nights, and acts that if you had a powerful enough listening device you could probably treat yourself to one unending version of "Sweet Home Chicago." I myself must confess to a certain blues fatigue, but every time I stroll past The Bone and roll my eyes, I remember when I lived in Oklahoma City--home to the nicest people and the dullest evenings of any city its size.
Several clubs struggled valiantly against flatland ennui, but the best of the bunch was VZD's, a nice bar on OKC's north central side. Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets--featuring Sam Meyers--would make it up there every couple of months, bringing an eagerly awaited blast of professional blues. The band could swing enough to keep the dance floor packed, yet pound away with enough force to keep the stool-sitters entranced. Up in OKC, Funderburgh's stinging guitar lines--betraying an early love of Freddie King and Albert Collins--could come damn close to salvation.
The bull-like presence of Sam Meyers on harp and vocals sealed the deal. Many can master blues technique on the guitar, but bands stand or fall on the power of a good frontman--coin not nearly as common. Meyers--who played with the great Elmore James and Robert Junior Lockwood--is an authentic breath of the Chicago scene from the '50s, back when that town's blues were still vital and hammering backwoods expressionism into urban soundtrack. Meyers takes the band to that higher level, whether on a standard like Otis Rush's "All Your Love" or one of the group's many original songs. After a few weeks of inept wannabes, young country cover bands, and a healthy dose of nothing at all, a hot, sweaty night at VZD's with Funderburgh, et al, was deliverance, if only from boredom. Sometimes that's enough.
Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets featuring Sam Meyers will play at Poor David's Saturday, January 4.
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