Plano Master of the Stratocaster
This is the soundtrack to my life. Even when I’m not listening to it, it’s playing in my head – Anson, maan! --Gminor7
Anson Funderburgh has been called: “The Prime Rib of Texas Guitar” - yes he’s that cool a player. Pure Smoothness! If you haven’t sampled Anson's meaty fare, and you consider yourself a blues fan, or even just a guitar fan, then consider yourself undernourished. Not just a local hero, anyone that knows anything about the contemporary blues scene has heard of him. With his clean, no nonsense sound and bravura biting tone, Funderburgh resides where West Side Soul Meets Dallas Groove.
Anson got his first electric guitar at age 15, and with it, an unexpected bonus – a box of blues singles that included Bill Doggett's Honky Tonk, Albert Collins' Sno Cone 2 and Freddie King’s Hideaway. "I heard 'Hideaway' and I knew this was the kind of stuff I wanted to play”, recalls Funderburg. "It hit me right where I needed to be hit. So Freddie was a big influence. So was B.B. King. There was a record (of his) called 'My Kind of Blues,' and you'd find every lick that I know on it." Meeting B.B. King at a Dallas club as a teenager had more than a musical impact. "I met him backstage," he gave me a pick and he made you just feel like you were very important. He's just one of the most gracious guys I've ever met in my life, and I always felt that if could not learn anything else, I wanted to make people feel like they were welcome in my life. "So I've always wanted people to feel that way. I never felt it was phony with B.B., and it's not with me.” That’s what strikes you instantly about Anson is just that – real to the core.
He has been a serious fan and student of the blues and it shows in his mean tonal attack, his taste and his vast knowledge of electric blues-guitar styles. "I like Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Magic Sam and all those Texas guys--Albert Collins, Freddy King, Lightnin' Hopkins. T-Bone Walker! How can you forget him?!” His first musical experiences happened in the clubs in Dallas. A young Anson had already taught himself guitar mostly from listening to classic blues records, but he developed his approach to blues music while learning from his heroes: Freddie King, Jimmie Reed and Albert Collins, when these great bluesmen were passing through Dallas-area clubs. He became a fixture on the Dallas nightclub scene by the time he was 16. In the '70s, he released a few singles on his own, recorded with a group called the Bee's Knees, formed The Rockets in ‘78 and recorded with the Fabulous Thunderbirds on their album, Butt Rockin', before signing with New Orleans-based Black Top and debuting with its maiden release. Funderburgh plugged away with the Rockets for several years, and then in 1986, his career took off when blind Jackson, MS bluesman, Sam Myers joined the band. Myers, who released his first record in 1957 (when Funderburgh was 3), had traveled for years on the Chitlin Circuit where he had accompanied the likes of Elmore James and Robert Junior Lockwood, gave the band instant credibility on the blues scene. Together they gained a national reputation effectively blending its Texas blues roots with the Chicago sound of its acclaimed vocalist. On stage and across several albums, the duo paired off, Myers, the iconic front man holding the audience's attention with his dry wit, slurry vocals and hornlike harmonica and Funderburgh, his blonde diffident, younger brother, emphasizing emotion over flash. In 1999, their Bullseye CD: Change in My Pocket, garnered several W.C. Handy Awards. Seemingly worlds apart the chemistry between them and example were both captivating and edifying. "We all play the parts that need to be played and there are no showboats in this band--hear what I'm saying? I think people misunderstand the simplicity of it all--the economics of this music.”
Anson has earned the respect of fellow 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. Collaborator Eric Lindell bears witness attempting to put his technique into perspective: "Anson plays with such great feel and never over-plays. His solos aren’t pyrotechnical, they’re careful, well thought out and melodic, championing feel and musicality over flash.”
Critics echo the praise of his peers: "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
Along with admiration for Anson’s note selection, finesse, phrasing, and fabulous strat tone add TV star looks. Among Rockets who have passed through over the years include a scruffy-looking bass player with a wicked sense of humor. Mike Judge, after leaving the band to pursue a career in animation, became a huge success with "Beavis and Butt-head" purporting basing his Beavis character on former band mate Anson’s appearance.
Sadly Sam Myers passed away in 2006. Since the passing of his musical partner, Anson retreated from the limelight and constant touring, concentrating on raising a family, working local gigs, performed at a smattering of festivals around the world, but has reportedly caught a renewed performing bug bringing Funderburgh to Longview for this welcome return to the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest. Anson is so darn good at what he does! There is a difference between "playin' a blues" and "playin THE blues". Playin THE blues is something that has to be earned and Anson walks the walk and has earned it… You can hear the blues in his tone and he knows how. Muddy Waters said "Blues is tone". Anson can define blues tone! but he remains humble with tongue firm in cheek: "I still wake up every morning wondering when I'm going to have to get a real job."