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Anson Fundergurgh & Sam Myers

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ANSON FUNDERBURGH & SAM MYERS

Texas-based guitarist Anson Funderburgh and veteran Mississippi harpist and vocalist Sam Myers make for one of the most unlikely pairings in contemporary blues. Though Funderburgh's capable of balls-out rock 'n' roll aggression, he relies on well-crafted solos to anchor his style: he creates tension with sustained lines, builds in precise phrases that climb carefully but relentlessly through the registers, then lets it all fly in explosions of closely bunched notes. Myers, who cites Little Walter as an influence, blows with a primal rawness that recalls such backwoods savants as Louisiana's Slim Harpo. He sings in an artless Delta roar that's most effective on straight-ahead twelve-bar blues: for all its robust emotion, his stiff bellow can rob a rocker like "Oh-Oh" of its sensuality, and he also has a hard time doing justice to a ballad like "The Last Time Around" (both songs are on the pair's current Black Top CD, That's What They Want). But when the tunes hew close to Myers's roots--like his originals "That's What They Want" (patterned after "Hoochie Coochie Man") and "The Dew Is Falling" (a reworking of Elmore James's "The Sky Is Crying")--the creative friction between his down-home primitivism and Funderburgh's stylish grace strikes sparks from what could have been blues boilerplate. Whether this fusion is the ideal showcase for either Funderburgh's swing or Myers's Delta stomp is open to debate, but it's tough to argue with success: in a blues world of fleeting partnerships, these two have kept their audiences dancing long enough to qualify as an institution. Friday, 9 PM, Green Room at Macaw's, 175 N. Franklin; 312-630-7918. Saturday, 10 PM, Beale Street Blues Cafe, 1550 N. Rand, Palatine; 847-776-9850. DAVID WHITEIS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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