Harmonica ace and vocalist Mark Hummel’s Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue is a congregation of veteran California and Texas blues men who can jump-start dancers with swing-flavored shuffles and enrapture entire audiences with a smoldering roadhouse grind.
The Revue was nominated for four 2017 Blues Music Awards (Best Band, Traditional Blues Album, Instrumentalist-Bass, and Instrumentalist-Harmonica) and will perform songs from their self-titled 2016 album and beyond at the Torch Club on Sept. 3 and The Palms on Sept. 9.
Original Revue members Hummel, guitarist Anson Funderburgh, local luminary guitarist Little Charlie Baty, bassist R.W. Grigsby, and drummer Wes Starr first started touring in 2012. Baty reportedly left the band last December and guitarist Mike Keller, who has played with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Doyle Bramhall, and Marcia Ball, now fills that slot.
Joining the Revue was part of a resurgence of sorts for Funderburgh who, after over 35 years of turning amp knobs, took a sudden musical hiatus that stretched to seven years. During a recent phone call, Funderburgh talked in a laid-back, gentlemanly drawl about those years that include such musical milestones as backing Lightnin’ Hopkins, playing on a Delbert McClinton album, garnering numerous W.C. Handy Blues Awards, and performing on David Sanborn’s Night Music TV show with Boz Skaggs.
The 62-year-old Funderburgh, who now resides near Dallas, grew up in Plano, Texas. A family photo at age 3 captures him strumming a Roy Rogers guitar. By age 15, he was playing Texas clubs with college student musicians.
“It was just an acoustic round-hole guitar that my mother bought from a friend’s daughter,” said Funderburgh of his first “real” axe. “And the woman gave me a bunch of 45s along with the guitar. In that box of 45s was ‘Linda Lu’ by Ray Sharpe, Freddie King’s ‘Hideaway,’ ‘Honky Tonk (and) Hold It’ by Bill Doggett, and some Jimmy Reed songs. It was pretty wonderful.”
“Seemed like, to me, people played blues to have fun,” said Funderburgh. “It was a bunch of different things for people. It was dance music. It was letting off steam. It was Friday night. It was having a blast. Leaving the workweek behind.”
By 1978, Funderburgh had formed the Rockets. He met former Elmore James drummer Sam Myers in 1982 and the fabled Myers became the band’s vocalist and harmonica player in 1986. They were more than bandmates. They were family.
After nearly 2 decades of touring and recording with Funderburgh, Myers was diagnosed with cancer in February 2005.
“So we took care of Sam pretty much that year,” said Funderburgh of his subsequent hiatus. “The next year, while I was home, my wife got pregnant and we had my little boy in ’06. Then Sam passed away in like July of ’06. And in ’07 I found out I had cancer. So for the next year I kind of fooled with all that and then, ah, I don’t know, I enjoyed being home with my family and my kids, and I just kind of did that.”
In 2012, he had started playing again with the Rockets and instrumentalist Eric Lindell, and the opportunity to join the Revue surfaced.
“We have our own little twist. Our own little sound,” said Funderburgh, who will be using the same Super Reverb amp he bought in 1969 for his upcoming shows. “Our own interpretation of blues music. ... I just kind of try and keep it simple and from the heart.”
Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue
When: Sunday, Sept. 3
Where: Torch Club, 904 15th St., Sacramento
When: Saturday, Sept. 9
Where: The Palms, 13 Main St., Winters