Queen of steam

Michele Lundeen & Blues Streak

There’s something hugely satisfying about seeing a woman full of confidence, soul and sass belting out the blues. Michele Lundeen is one such woman. They call her the “Queen of Steam,” and whether that’s due to the sultriness exuding from her body and vocal chords when she’s onstage or for the steam she shows no signs of running out of, it’s hard to say. There’s a line from Lundeen’s “Song Inside Me” about how she was “afraid to speak her mind.” It’s hard to believe she’d ever fear that. She lets it all out—the pain, disappointments, challenges and put-downs of life—and turns it into a joyous thing.

Lundeen lived in Reno for 20 years before moving to San Diego in 1997. Before she left, she helped co-found the Reno Blues Society and edited their publications for the past 15 years. She and her band, Blues Streak, were nominated by the San Diego Music Awards for Best Blues in 2007. She’s also been teaching at-risk kids about blues and its history through the Blues in the Schools program.

“The kids are shy, so my big thing is promoting confidence,” says Lundeen, who says she was a shy kid, too. “They talk every day, so they can make up stuff of their everyday life, which is what the blues is about—good things, bad things and healing through the music.”

Lundeen has been described as a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin. It’s a fair comparison, but don’t box her into the “white blueswoman” mold. She’s simply good at the blues.

“I wear my heart on my sleeve, and people react to it and relate to it,” she says.

She opens for Norton Buffalo on July 25. With her will be guitarist Reuben Vigil, bassist Len Rainey, sax player Walter Gentry and drummer Tony Peterson.

“We’re going to rip out the roadhouse blues, Memphis soul, roots rock and jump swing,” she says. “I like to mix it up and offer as much energy along with my heart, just to reach out and move people.”

If her deep, rich, forceful voice doesn’t bring you to your knees, it will likely bring you to your feet.