Sean Chambers teams with Savoy Brown for Smyrna blues show

By Craig Horleman
Posted 4/17/24

Sean Chambers’ musical career has been a series of pinch-me moments.

After playing with blues and rock greats such as Hubert Sumlin, Kim Simmonds, Robert Cray, James Cotton, Pinetop Perkins and Pat Travers, Mr. Chambers sits back in amazement sometimes.

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Sean Chambers teams with Savoy Brown for Smyrna blues show


SMYRNA — Sean Chambers’ musical career has been a series of pinch-me moments.

After playing with blues and rock greats such as Hubert Sumlin, Kim Simmonds, Robert Cray, James Cotton, Pinetop Perkins and Pat Travers, Mr. Chambers sits back in amazement sometimes.

“I’ve had a lot of times where it’s like, ‘What is going on?’ I’ve definitely had special times where I’ve gotten my college education in the blues,” he said.

“We toured Japan with Magic Slim and Otis Rush and our band with Hubert, and we did like six or seven shows. It was unreal sitting there, waiting to get on the bus with Otis Rush or catch a train, and I’m thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’ I’m some young, White kid around all these giants in the blues world. It was pretty surreal at times.”

Over the years, Mr. Chambers has made a name for himself in the blues business. A native Floridian and a Florida Music Hall of Fame inductee, the singer, songwriter and guitarist recently formed a new band that features ex-Savoy Brown members Pat DeSalvo on bass and drummer Garnet Grimm.

Both Mr. Grimm and Mr. DeSalvo were part of the longest continuously running lineup in that British blues rock band’s history, until the passing of its co-founder and guitarist Mr. Simmonds in December 2022.

Now, Mr. Chambers is once again playing with part of a band he listened to growing up in an April 26 show at the Smyrna Opera House and hosted by the Central Delaware Blues Society.

He credits his main guitar-playing influences as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. And his early professional music experience was gained during a 1998-2003 tour with Mr. Sumlin, who had cut his teeth with blues legends like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.

It was during that tenure when Britain’s Guitarist magazine named Mr. Chambers “one of the top 50 blues guitarists of the last century.”

Also in 1998, Mr. Chambers released his debut album, “Strong Temptation,” heavily influenced by Mr. Vaughan’s style.

“When I got my first guitar, I was about 11 years old. At the time, I didn’t know anything about blues or anything like that. I was listening to a lot of the classic rock bands at the time, being from Florida, bands like (Lynyrd) Skynyrd and Tom Petty and, of course, Led Zeppelin,” Mr. Chambers said.

“Later on, a buddy of mine that was probably a year-and-a-half older than me — I was probably 14 or 15 at the time, and he just turned 16 — got his license, and his dad bought him one of those old, used Pintos.

“I was playing power chords and trying to learn all my favorite bands’ stuff. But I was still kind of searching. I hadn’t found what I was looking for on that guitar yet. He picked me up to go for a ride and put in a cassette tape, and it was the first time I heard ‘Red House’ by Jimi Hendrix. That’s the first time the hair on my arm stood up, and I was like, ‘Man, what kind of music is this? Who is this?’ And he said, ‘It’s blues.’”

Later on, his tastes turned to Texas guitar players like Mr. Vaughan, Johnny Winter and Albert Collins. That led him to explore the greats of the past.

A few years in a Vaughan tribute band followed, and then, some gigs with Mr. Sumlin led him to a full-time position serving as his bandleader. Mr. Chambers said that was an experience of a lifetime.

“He was the best storyteller. I have probably forgotten more than I remember. He lived every day to the fullest. He would tell a lot of stories about Howlin’ Wolf and the first time he met Hendrix. Wolf and him had like a father-son relationship. He would say, ‘He would hire me, and then, he would fire me, and then, he’d hire me, and he fired me.’ They had a good relationship. Hubert and I did, too,” said Mr. Chambers, who released a 2021 tribute album to Mr. Sumlin, titled “That’s What I’m Talking About.”

That work, his eighth album, consists of nine tracks that were frequently performed by the two together, along with one original song written by Mr. Chambers.

Years of playing with his own band followed, and in 2019, performing on the same bill with Savoy Brown at the Bowlful of Blues in Newton, Iowa, Mr. Chambers found his current music mates, Mr. DeSalvo and Mr. Grimm.

They collaborated shortly before the death of Mr. Simmonds from cancer.

“We also get along really good musically and off the stage. It’s just great chemistry all the way around. Our first tour together with me and the Savoy Brown rhythm section was October of 2022, just two-and-a-half months before Kim died. We would call him and put him on speaker, and he always wished us the best,” Mr. Chambers said.

Mr. Simmonds, the sole consistent member of Savoy Brown, which he created in 1965, gave the combination his blessing.

“That meant the world to me, and his wife comes to some of our shows here and there when we’re on tour. He was one of the guys I grew up listening to — one of my heroes. And he was just such a sweetheart of a guy — such a nice guy,” Mr. Chambers added.

“It was heartbreaking when he passed away, but the writing was kind of on the wall. As a matter of fact, they released two albums before he passed away. And he wanted to go out and do some shows and have me front the band. He got neuropathy in his hands from the cancer. He couldn’t really play guitar much. But he could play slide guitar. I was going to sing the songs, and he was going to come play a few on slide. But that never came to fruition because he just got too sick and passed away.”

Mr. Chambers said the Smyrna audience can expect a mix of Savoy Brown songs and his own repertoire.

There’s another album on the way, too.

“We’re doing a live album on this tour at (the club) Daryl’s House in New York, and it should be released sometime by the end of the year. This will be the first tour we’ve done through the U.S. We’ve been to Europe a couple times together, and we’ve done shows in Florida together. But we haven’t actually jumped in the van and done a tour through the states together yet. This will be a first for that,” he said.

Smyrna will be the second date of a 10-show tour that starts in Richmond, Virginia, on April 24.

Tickets can be obtained at or at the box office at 7 W. South St.

Doors open at 6:45 p.m., with the show at 7:30. There are a limited number of tickets available for a VIP party before the concert, which includes a meet-and-greet, food and beverages from 6-7 and VIP seating in the first three rows.

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