Venue: Mojo’s Kitchen, 1500 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville Beach 32250
Date/Time: September 4
Tickets: $10 (2-for-1 entry details at folioweekly.com)
Contact: 904.247.6636, www.mojobbq.com/mojo-kitchen-bbq-pit-blues-bar
Sean Chambers was a 14-year-old kid riding shotgun in his buddy’s car the first time he heard the signature wail of the Hendrix classic, ‘Red House.’ He’d never heard anything like it before. It was different than the rock ‘n’ roll power chords he hammered out on his guitar, but it felt like home.
“I listened to a lot of rock ‘n’ roll as a kid, all the classic rock bands that were popular back in those days. When I heard Hendrix play Red House, that’s what really turned me on to blues guitar. I’d been playing guitar for a couple years and kind of trying to find myself and what I wanted to do on the guitar. I knew when I heard that song, that’s what I want to do right there.”
Chambers recently returned from two weeks in Canada and is headed back down south to Florida for a performance at Mojo’s Kitchen in Jacksonville Beach and up into the Carolinas before closing out the road dates for the year. His performance kicks off Mojo’s Labor Day weekend with a BOGO discount on the $10 admission price. Visit folioweekly.com for details on their discount offer.
Last year, Chambers released The Rock House Sessions recorded at Rock House Studios in Franklin, Tennessee, which was nominated for Best Blues Rock album of 2014. It was produced by legendary keyboardist Reese Wynans, known for his lengthy tenure as a member of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band. He’s toured pretty steadily since, breaking to work on record slated for a spring release. The new record is a return to where it all began, with a stripped down interpretation of the blues. It’s an honest representation of his musicianship with the grit and intensity of a hungry young guitar player eager to bleed his fingers in tribute to those who paved the way.
That early blues education provided a blueprint for Chambers to develop his own sound. “A lot of times when I try to play something traditional, it still comes out as sort of blues rock. It’s just how I play,” he says. “It’s like a melting pot of my rock and blues influences. And of course, being from Florida, I was surrounded by a lot of southern rock bands. Coming up around music like that, it just comes from everyone that’s inspired me.” As Chambers absorbed the Hendrix catalog, he discovered his influences and was turned onto the Texas players like Freddy King, Albert Collins, and Johnny Winter. “I kind of started back-tracking and got into a lot of their influences, like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King, and that’s how I really started learning about the blues.”
From 1999 to 2003, Chambers played guitar with Hubert Sumlin, who was a side man with Howlin’ Wolf for 25 years. “He took me on, and I used to really fight it when I was touring with Hubert. He was real traditional and one of the innovators. Guys like Clapton, Hendrix, and the Stones copied his licks in the songs that he and Howlin’ Wolf wrote together. I would always talk to Hubert about how I felt I should be more traditional-sounding backing him up. He said, ‘Man, you can’t change how you sound. It’s like your voice. You can’t really change your voice, so just play what comes from your heart.’”
Chambers still feels like a work in progress, always thinking a solo could be better or the vocals stronger, but as an artist, he knows when to wrap and move on to the next song. “I’m always searching, but overall I’m happy that my sound is unique. I don’t think my band sounds like all the other bands out there, so that’s a good thing. We play for the fans that like what we’re doing.” Chambers has made his mark in the blues world and is a permanent link in the chain he followed as a kid from a small Florida town who dreamed big.