“March is Women’s History Month,” Lundeen said. “I thought this would be a great way to showcase all the great music that women have contributed to the blues, from Etta James to Koko Taylor. She cites James “I Would Rather Go Blind” as a particular showstopper. “Most of my stuff is danceable,” she said. “That song, on the other hand, is a slower, emotional song, but the crowds love it.” She’ll also include a few originals, including the crowd favorite, “I Need A Dog.” “That’s a grinder, a tongue in cheek song that shows my sense of humor” she laughed. “I’m not sure why that one caught on, but people ask for that song all the time.”
Lundeen arrived in San Diego via Reno, circa 1996. Though now a veteran blues singer, initially she was more mainstream. “When I was younger, living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, I’d always dreamt of playing music as a way to make a living. Later on, I took over a job in Reno, playing jazz and pop standards of the day, Jim Croce and Debby Boone, that sort of thing.” While she enjoyed what she did, in the early nineties she had an epiphany. “I used to get chastised a lot by band leaders because I was too expressive and would really belt out certain songs. I realized I gravitated towards a particular type of song, the blues. That’s where my heart has always ended up.”
Although Lundeen has plenty of original music, she hasn’t released an album since 2004’s “Song Inside Me.” “I have about 30 new songs, some of which are already in my set,” she said. The lack of new recordings is down to the usual “lack of funds, time and getting around to it,” she joked. “But I’m inspired, it’s definitely time to get some demos ready.” She notes she plans on making one change to her game plan for the follow up to her previous album. “If there is one thing I should have done at the time, it’s a tour,” she said. “I’ve done some small bits of touring, but for the next release I’d really like to get out there and get in front of new audiences.”
Beyond this Humphrey’s Backstage Live date, upcoming appearances from Lundeen include March 22 at the Blues Against Hunger Spring Fest in San Felipe, Mexico and the Gator by the Bay Festival on May 9. In the meantime, Lundeen is happy with her choice to sing the blues.
“If I can quote the great Charlie Musselwhite, “The Blues reminds us that we’re human,” she said. “People can relate to it, it’s accessible. It’s easy to see why the music has lasted and is still so popular,” Lundeen mused. “The lyrics and the mood of the song reach parts of us that people don’t think they can express themselves. I’m happy that I can share a passion and promote an art form.”
Michele Lundeen: Friday, March 6 at Humphrey’s Backstage Live, 2241 Shelter Island Drive. 5 p.m. $5. humphreysbackstagelive.com.