The thrill returns for the eighth annual Blues & BBQ Festival

Blues guitarist and vocalist Sean Chambers will be the first to hit the stage at the eighth annual Winter Garden Blues & BBQ Festival.

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  • | 4:37 p.m. January 30, 2019
Sean Chambers began his music career in 1998 playing with Hubert Sumlin.
Sean Chambers began his music career in 1998 playing with Hubert Sumlin.
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Sean Chambers was a teenager when he discovered the blues. He got his first guitar at age 11 but didn’t hear the blues until he was about 15, when a friend introduced him to Jimi Hendrix.

“I heard ‘Red House’ by Jimi Hendrix, and that made me know that I wanted to play blues,” Chambers said. “My buddy … came and picked me up one day, and he put in a tape and turned it on and it was ‘Red House’ by Jimi Hendrix, which I had never heard before.When I heard ‘Red House,’ it hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s the kind of stuff I want to do right there. That’s what I’ve been looking for — that sound. Ever since then, I’ve been playing the blues and learning the blues.”

Chambers will be the first to perform at the eighth annual Winter Garden Blues & BBQ Festival Saturday, Feb. 9. The festival runs from 4 to 10 p.m., and Chambers will hit the stage at the start of the event. The city’s annual celebration is free to attend, and beer and barbecue will be available for purchase. Profits of the event will benefit various Winter Garden nonprofits and community organizations.

Born in Melbourne but raised in Tampa, Chambers, now 50, has had a long music career that has taken him across the globe. The singer/songwriter and guitarist has performed in countries such as Japan, Canada, Ireland and England. He also has played all over the United States — from New York to Los Angeles — and many other cities in-between. Although he’s been playing guitar since he was 11 and was in his first band at 19, Chambers has been playing professionally for about 20 years.

“I started my career in 1998 playing with Hubert Sumlin,” Chambers said. “I got the opportunity to play with him for four-and-a-half years, and he took me all around the world. … I’ve been real fortunate that I’ve been able to see a lot of the world playing the blues.”

Chambers taught himself how to play guitar when he first started playing. Although he was in band in middle school, he never took guitar lessons and learned by ear. He used to listen to tapes over and over and try to replicate the sounds he heard on his own guitar.

“Nowadays, you have the luxury of pulling a tutorial video on YouTube and you can do a lesson,” Chambers said. “When I was a kid growing up, I pretty much had a tape player — my cassette deck — and I would listen to something, stop it, try to figure it out, back it up, figure out part-by-part and pretty much played by ear.”

Chambers said one of the most enjoyable parts of performing is the energy he feels from the audience.

“Whenever you have got a good crowd, it’s kind of full circle,” he said. “You put out energy with the music and they’re into it and … you’re getting the vibe from them that they’re really into it, and it kind of makes us play better. That energy and feeding off the crowd is my favorite thing about performing live.”



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