I was late gettin’ on the Sean Chambers blues train which has been rollin’ along since his first recording back in 1998. It was his 2017 album, Trouble and Whiskey, that grabbed my attention with a blistering guitar style that reflects what he learned playing with Hubert Sumlin for over 4 years and puts him in the company of guitar virtuosos Gary Moore and Alvin Lee. Sean also has just the right amount of gruff in his voice and conveys an honesty that makes him a natural born bluesman.
As a special tribute to Hubert Sumlin, long time band member for Howlin’ Wolf and one of the most influential blues electric guitar players of all time. Sean records 10 songs that he regularly performed with Hubert as part of the band from 1998 to 2002 and contributes one original about his life and times with the great bluesman, Hubert’s Song. The title for the recording, That’s What I Am Talkin’ About, reflects a phrase that Hubert loved to use according to Sean.
The tune on the album that best epitomizes why some organizations have rated Sean as one of the top contemporary guitar players on the planet is Rockin’ Daddy. He attacks this blues standard by Chester Burnett with gusto and the guitar solo right near the end is incredible. As many of you know, I love music with a beat you can dance to and Do The Do and Hidden Charms fill the bill nicely. Sean can also get into the lowdown and dirty blues as he did on Goin’ Down Slow. I have to believe that Hubert hearing Sean wear out the guitar on this song back in 1998 helped get him the permanent gig with Sumlin.
Also included on the album is a great version of the Roosevelt Sykes song, Forty Four, that was a mainstay of Howlin’ Wolf’s performances with Hubert back in the 1950’s. The martial cadence of the snare drum on this classic song is the perfect backdrop for Sean’s vocals and features some sweet guitar playing. Seans cranks out some badass roadhouse blues on the tracks Taildragger and Sitting on Top of the World. And Sean has the perfect voice to pull off a rousing version of the Howlin’ Wolf classic, Howlin’ for my Darling.
Throughout the recording, there are delightful performances on the Hammond B3 Organ by Bruce Katz and a favorite keyboard player of mine, John Ginty. John contributed to Sean’s last album and now is a mainstay of the Allman Betts Band. Drums and percussion are handled by Andrei Koribanics. And the insistent bass is played by Antar Goodwin.
The album closes with another Chester Burnett song that was a featured song for Hubert Sumlin’s shows, Louise. (The suggestion to include the song along with Taildragger came from none other than Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown!) From the first song on the album, an instrumental entitled Chunky, to the last one Sean provides an intense and artful rendering of tunes that are truly classic blues music that should please both blues purists and blues rock and roadhouse blues fans.
On a sad note, the producer of the album, Ben Elliot, passed away sometime after its recording in the spring of 2020. It was the last production by one of the greats of the blues rock genre. Ben had recorded or produced songs and albums by Leslie West, Rory Gallagher, Savoy Brown, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and…..Hubert Sumlin.
Sean dedicates the album to the memory of Hubert Sumlin and Ben Elliot. It will serve as a lasting tribute and is certainly one of the finest roadhouse blues albums released in 2021.
Sean Chambers – That’s What I’m Talkin’ About (Tribute to Hubert Sumlin) (2021 Quatro Valley Records)
Ben Vee started out spinning songs on terrestrial radio and at nightclubs back in the 1970’s in his home state of Louisiana. After a career in the construction business, he returned to DJing in 2011. He now hosts two shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and writes about the blues at http://www.benveeblues.com from his home in Connecticut. He also has a 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB