An Interview with Sean Chambers

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Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with the talented Sean Chambers. Among other things, we touch on what he’s been up to during the lockdown, his newest music, his opinion of the music scene today, and what he’s looking forward to the most once COVID-19 breaks.

If you would like to learn more about Sean Chambers, you can head over to Sean’s Facebook page and dig in. Once you’ve done that, check out this interview with Sean. Cheers.

Andrew:
Sean, I appreciate you taking the time today. How have you been holding up over the last year or so? What have you been up to?

Sean:
It is my pleasure and thank you for having me. I’ve been trying to stay positive and waiting for this nightmare to come to an end. It’s been like a bad movie. At the beginning of COVID, I did some live stream shows like so many others, but it isn’t the same playing in front of a camera or an iPhone. I need that energy from a live crowd, that’s where the magic happens. I’ve been practicing a lot and am very much looking forward to getting back out on the road, sharing, and playing my music with the people again. I’ve been spending some of my time working on some new songs, my wife and I go fishing when we can, take walks occasionally, visit family, etc.

Andrew:
Before we dive into your professional career, let’s go back a bit. What first got you hooked on music?

Sean:
I was hooked on music from a very young age. I always loved the sound of loud guitars and great music, whether it’s Blues, Rock ‘N’ Roll, Classic Rock, Jazz, or whatever. I have always listened to a diverse style of music, but the Blues is what really grabs me when I play, and when I am listening. It’s the only music that makes the hair on my arms stand up and gives me chill bumps, still to this day. When I was ten years old, I got my first guitar and spent a few years working with power chords and trying to figure out a lot of the Classic Rock music that I was listening to at a young age before I discovered the Blues. It wasn’t until I was about 15 years old that I heard Jimi Hendrix play “Red House,” and that was a life-changing experience for me. I knew at that moment that was the kind of stuff I wanted to play. I asked my buddy who put in the Hendrix cassette, “What kind of music is that? Who is that?” He said, “It’s Jimi Hendrix and it’s the Blues.” That day changed my life.

Andrew:
Who were some of your early influences?

Sean:
Once I discovered the Blues, I would have to start with Hendrix, Robin Trower, Gary Moore, and Rory Gallagher. Also, most of the great Texas guitar players like Albert Collins, Freddie King, Johnny Winter, Billy Gibbons, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Then delving into their influences, I started listening to the older Blues guys and originators, like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, BB King, Buddy Guy, Lightnin Hopkins, Bukka White, Robert Johnson, Son House, and lots more.

That’s What I’m Talkin About (A tribute to Hubert Sumlin) (2021)

Andrew:
Let’s talk about recent events first. Your most recent record was 2018’s Welcome to My Blues. Tell us about your newest effort which dropped in July.

Sean:
Of course my new album, That’s What I’m Talkin About (A tribute to Hubert Sumlin) was just released July 9th on the great Quarto Valley Records label. I was Hubert Sumlin’s Guitar player and bandleader for a little over four years, and I’ve always wanted to do some sort of tribute to him, hence this new album. He taught me so much about playing the Blues, life on the road and so much more. Hubert was also the best storyteller I’ve ever met. I think Hubert would be happy with this new album. “That’s What I’m Talkin About” was a phrase Hubert used to say a lot, so we thought it to be a fitting title for the new album. It is comprised of eleven songs. One original called “Hubert’s Song” that I wrote about some of my times and experiences with Hubert. The other ten songs are songs that I played while I was with Hubert, mostly written by Howlin’ Wolf and Hubert Sumlin, some by Willie Dixon, who wrote a lot for those guys back in the day.

Andrew:
What lyrical themes do you tend to explore with your music? Is your music intensely personal, or are you only telling stories, so to speak?

Sean:
A little of both. Some are personal and about someone, or something I went through or experienced in my life. Some others are just based on a concept or idea I might have come up with. Also, could be something I’ve witnessed or seen someone go through. With that being said they are all personal to me.

Andrew:
How about the production side of things? Do you self-produce, or do you bring in outside voices?

Sean:
Well, for my first four albums I didn’t have a producer. For my other four albums, I had some great producers that I was lucky enough to work with, such as Resse Wynans for my fifth album, and the late great Ben Elliott for my last three albums which includes my new album That’s What I’m Talkin About. Ben passed away shortly after we recorded this last album which was recorded back in March of 2020. Ben was not only a great producer but was a wonderful person and a great friend. My latest album was his last project after almost thirty years of being in the same studio. This new album was in limbo for lack of a better term, after he passed away. I am very thankful that Quarto Valley Records signed me and picked it up, and released the album. I feel like I found a new home with Quarto Valley Records and they have an incredible team put together, they really know their stuff.

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Cassettes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? What are a few of your favorite albums and why?

Sean:
I am into Vinyl, that seems to be coming back. Not so much cassettes. I would say mostly digital since that is the world we’re living in now. Some of my favorite all-time albums are anything by BB King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf, mostly because of the realness and rawness of the sound. It’s hard to pick a single album, I like them all. A few others are Showdown with Albert Collins, Johnny Clyde Copeland, and Robert Cray because that is just a great album, highly recommended for any Blues lover that hasn’t heard it. Anything by Hendrix, Gary Moore, Rory Gallagher, Savoy Brown, Robin Trower, Johnny Winter, Albert Collins, Albert King, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, ZZ Top, especially their earlier Blues albums. Again, it’s impossible to pick just one, they are all great and it depends on the mood I’m in. My favorite could change in an hour depending on what’s going on with me and where my head is at. These are a lot of the players that make the hair on my arms stand up and give me chill bumps. I could truly go on and on with this question.

Andrew:
What other passions do you have? How do those passions inform your music, if at all?

Sean:
My OTHER passion is cooking, and especially cooking BBQ on my smoker. I love BBQ and I love using my smoker to cook ribs, brisket, chicken, pork and sausage, etc. It’s funny because there are so many Blues and BBQ festivals out there, they just seem to go together. But, I truly love to cook, and cooking BBQ. When I was a youngster before I had my first band I was seriously considering going to culinary school. I think that might have taken some of the joy I have for cooking away though. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted it to remain a passion and not a job. Ten hours in a hot kitchen every day might be pushing it a bit. I can throw together a pretty mean red sauce as well. Love Italian food.

Andrew:
In your opinion, what is the state of the music business these days? Should artists be hopeful? Scared? Both

Sean:
I feel like playing music and the music business are two different things. With modern technology at our fingertips nowadays, that has changed the business of music. It is one thing to have a band and play some gigs and enjoy doing that. The music “business” per se has changed a lot since I was a kid. When I was a kid I learned how to play guitar by ear with my tape player. Now you can go to YouTube and learn how to play whatever you want, note for note. Streaming didn’t exist back when I was young. When I wanted new music I had to go to the record store and find what I was looking for. I can remember spending hours sifting through all the albums back then and just getting lost and forgetting where I was. I miss those days, it’s sad kids these days can’t experience that. Streaming is convenient, but most people I know these days will stream a song and not even listen to the whole thing, and click “next” before it’s over. It is entirely different than putting on an album and listening to it all the way through while looking at all the pics in the album and reading the liner notes while listening like we did growing up. Those days are gone, sadly.

I think live music will always be there, however, and I think musicians coming up these days should be hopeful and still chase their dreams. We will ALWAYS need music, no matter what form it comes in. I don’t think they should be scared at all, just be smart and realize that music is a passion, and something we should pursue because we love it, and we appreciate and love the way it makes people feel, not because it’s necessarily the best career choice financially speaking, although it could be if you have that “one song” that hits!

Andrew:
Last one. We seem to be nearing a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of COVID-19 restrictions. That said, what’s next on your docket? What are you looking forward to most in the post-COVID world?

Sean:
Yeah, it’s been a crazy last year and a half, to say the least. I’m looking forward to getting back out on the road, mostly playing for an audience again! We are getting ready to tour starting this September through the Midwest, North, Northeast, and Canada. Then in October, we’re scheduled for a European tour. I am very much looking forward to getting back on the road and bringing the music back to the people in a live setting. We did some streaming shows during COVID, but I strongly believe music is meant to be played live in front of an audience. You feed off of the energy from the crowd and they feed off of our energy. It comes full circle in a live situation. Playing at your house to an iPhone, or a camera just isn’t the same, even if there are a bunch of people tuning in on Facebook or wherever you’re live streaming. I did that a handful of times and just couldn’t keep doing it. I think it drained me more than playing a real show. With that being said, I know people appreciated me/us doing that at the time because that’s the only way they could experience any type of live performance. 

Interested in learning more about Sean Chambers? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Andrew has always felt himself to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of person. With an immense passion for music, a disposition for writing, and an eagerness to teach and share both, Andrew decided to found Vinyl Writer in 2019 as a freelance column under the column Stories from the Stacks. Over time, the column grew into a website which now features contributors who further the cause of sharing both a love of music and the art of journalism with the world through articles and interviews. While Andrew enjoys running the website, his real passion lies in teaching and facilitating others to do what they do best, and giving them the opportunity to explore their passions in the process.
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