Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Meet my newer friends, Lester and Dylan Chambers

I told you yesterday about a trip I made last New Year's Eve to help my old college roommate/good friend/brother Baron Chase celebrate his 52nd birthday with an annual birthday jam at his place in the Bay Area.

I told you about how Baron serves as music director for Lester Chambers, a musician with a long and colorful history to tell from the world of music with many stories coming from his days with the iconic 1960s soul/psychedelic/rock/gospel group The Chambers Brothers and songs like "Time Has Come Today," "People Get Ready," and "Love Peace and Happiness."

I told you about how Lester lived just a few houses down from Baron at the time.  It was quite a rush to me to sit in Baron's kitchen that afternoon, look out the window, and see a part of music history walk up the sidewalk to Baron's front door.

After he came in, we were introduced and shook hands.

"Hi, I'm Lester Chambers."

"Oh, yeah, I know who you are," I responded.  "It's an honor to meet you."

From there, we kicked back and watched some NBA on the television before more guests arrived and the jamming began.

Lester Chambers sings "Dock of the Bay"  (Photo By John G. Miller)
I sat in an easy chair.  Lester sat on a love seat less than five feet away from me.  When the people who were there felt like getting into the music and they launched into the Otis Redding classic "(Sittin' On The) Dock of the Bay," and Lester Chambers was singing it five feet away from me, I felt the need to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming.  I grabbed my camera to record the moment.

It was a night to remember for sure.  Lester is about the most decent, kind, gentle guy you'd ever want to meet.  He's genuine.  There's no "rock star aura" about him.  Having him pull out a blues harp and start playing that is a treat all by itself.  Vocally, he sings like a man who's traveled a few hard roads in his life and lived to tell the tales.  He sang "Dock of the Bay" like he was telling a hard story about his life, and he sang it with love and care.  When he sang Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door," with the guest musicians jamming and singing along, it was like a prayer coming from Lester's heart.  Everyone was captivated.

Dylan and Lester Chambers perform together.
Speaking of Dylan, there's Lester's son Dylan as well.  Lester would love to come back strong in the music business himself, but he doesn't think so much of himself these days as he does promoting the career of Dylan Chambers.

Dylan's got some vocal talent himself, and he put it on display the night of the birthday jam.  He's carrying on a family tradition.  Dylan also rattled off tons of information about Lester and the rest of the Chambers Brothers for those more unfamiliar with them.  He is an amazing historian when it comes to his famous father and uncles.

Lester and his brothers gave Dylan some great material of musically historic significance to work with.  Songs like "Time Has Come Today" don't come around all that often and have the kind of lasting impact that tune has had.

Lester's still trying to leave his mark on the music world in his early 70s.  He and Baron turned what was known as the Lester Chambers Blues Revue into a group called The Mud Stompers to note Lester's Mississippi roots, and they played two live shows online earlier this year on stageit.com.  I tuned in to both of them and tried to help get the word out to anyone who wanted to tune in.  Both stageit.com shows were top-notch in terms of musicianship and tightness, and Lester showed he still has the chops vocally and on that blues harp.

We can't forget Dylan Chambers either.  He's determined to make people remember his father and uncles and the musical heritage they created.  And he's working on doing something with his talents himself, with his group The Midnight Transit.

Dylan Chambers and The Midnight Transit on reverbnation.com

Lester Chambers' bio on Wikipedia

It's a family affair.

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