Sean Chambers Is Coming Out "Guns A-blazing" at the Sunshine Music & Blues Festival | County Grind | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Sean Chambers Is Coming Out "Guns A-blazing" at the Sunshine Music & Blues Festival

"I could have thought of hundreds of guitarists I'd put in front of me," blushed Sean Chambers when asked about the time the U.K.'s Guitarist Magazine named him one of the 50 best blues guitarists of the century. "We were in England touring with Hubert Sumlin, who was Howlin' Wolf's guitarist. Hubert took us all over the world. My band would open up for him, and then we'd back his set. I guess someone took a liking to me," he surmised.

Though Chambers may be humble about his place in the pantheon of blues guitar, he is a proud Florida native. Born in Melbourne, where his father worked at the Kennedy Space Center, he lived in the Tampa area for a long while and now calls Fort Myers home. In spite of being happily married, Chambers is still an expert in this sad genre.

Ask him who his favorite blues guitarist is and he'll ask you to be more specific. "If you're talking Chicago blues, then it's got to be Buddy Guy; Irish blues, then Gary Moore." It makes sense that Chambers would be so interested in the great guitarists who came before him. Blues traditions have been passed along faithfully from one generation to the next.

Chambers' globe-spanning guitar career leaves him two degrees away from just about any blues great. He might not himself have jammed with every legend, but chances are Chambers has shared the stage with someone who has. He was a guest on the aforementioned Sumlin's final solo album, About Them Shoes, which also featured licks by Keith Richards, Levon Helm, and Eric Clapton. Chambers' fifth and most recent album, The Rock House Sessions, was produced by Reese Wynans, who played keys with Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Chambers was 15 when he first caught the blues bug. It was the early '80s; he was driving around, and his friend stuck in a cassette. The muffled, slow, 12-bar song changed his life. The teenaged Chambers felt a sensation he can describe only as "the chill bumps." He asked his 16-year-old buddy, "What is this?"

"It's 'Red House' by Jimi Hendrix. It's the blues."

He was already playing rock on his instrument. His parents bought him a guitar for Christmas when he was 11 with the caveat that he had to practice every night. But Chambers took only four 30-minute classes. "The teacher wasn't what I expected him to be. He wanted me to play 'Row row row your boat,' which didn't make me want to practice."

But a promise was a promise, and his parents made sure he stayed true to his word. "I started fiddling with the guitar, and then they couldn't stop me. I started learning to play by ear. I was playing along to classic rock. I was getting into all these Texas blues guys like Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan. From there, I would learn about their heroes and influences, which led me to guys like B.B. King and T. Bone Walker."

Though Chambers was remarkably upbeat during our early-evening conversation, he's seen hardships that would give any man the blues. In 2004, his home was ravaged and flooded by a hurricane. Forced to relocate, he took his difficulties into the recording studio and created Ten Til Midnight, which struck a nerve with his biggest audience yet. The album gained wide radio airplay, earned rave reviews from the media, and landed a three-month residency on the charts of Living Blues.

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David Rolland is a freelance writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland

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