The time has come when I need to start letting a small cat out of what myself and a group of other people are hoping turns into a very large and diversified bag … and I can still let out only a small one.

Baron Chase and his gorgeous fretless bass

Do you — or at least any of you who’ve followed this blog for any length of time over the past three months — remember how I started the year 2012?  It started with a quickly planned flight for me to Oakland to take part in a 52nd birthday jam for my old Idaho State University college roommate, good friend, and dynamite bass player Baron Chase at his modest home in the Bay Area, north of San Francisco in an area that reminded me more of our old stomping grounds in Pocatello, Idaho.  It was a truly memorable way to celebrate New Year’s Eve, right on Baron’s birthday, with a house full of his friends — most of them musically talented in one way or another.

If you need a mental refresher, here’s the original post in the link below:

“The Church of Music” — Baron Chase’s 52nd birthday jam

It was also memorable because it involved a surprise “job offer” when I needed one the most.  You see, Baron’s had this idea for a business opportunity kicking around in his head for I don’t know how long.  Oddly enough, it also involves some things that have been kicking around in my own head for quite some time now.  Just as it was when Baron and I were as close as blood brothers when we were college roommates and friends who lived not much more than 40 miles or so apart over a 5-6-year period — only to be separated by hundreds of miles and up to 24 years or so without hearing from each other beginning in 1984 — we’ve seemed to have a similar vision.  That similar vision definitely hadn’t changed after 27 years of not seeing each other, until being physically reunited that New Year’s weekend.

Not exactly similar, but close enough to be … inspired.  Blending each of our visions together, along with the visions and talents of others, could make for a statement of great boldness.  There is a certain beautiful touch of grace to it, and it’s filled with a spirit of generosity.

The scope of how big this vision could become has boggled my mind ever since Baron started cluing me in when I got there that Friday to his own dream for the future, and talking late that Friday night about having me become a part of it.  Baron’s a dude with a mind as sharp as a tack, and I jumped at the chance to see where this big vision would take us.

It has to do with great aspirations, building up something very solid that will benefit the needs of many.  And the first brick in this foundation will be laid on February 25 from the Bay Area, when Baron as music director will gather up the Lester Chambers Blues Revue for a live streamed Internet “house party” — much like Baron’s 52nd birthday jam that turned into a whale of a show for a house full of invited guests — at 6 p.m. from the home studio of guitarist Chick Peterson.

Plenty of tickets, for whatever can be paid, to the online show are available at the link below:

TICKETS:  Lester Chambers and Friends, Live!!  Streamed To You Through Stageit.com!!  February 25

Chick Peterson is the guy playing guitar in the video below.  Baron, of course, is the one on the bass with the long-flowing but neatly tied dreadlocks (before he cut them all off).  Lester’s son Dylan — carrying on The Chambers Brothers tradition as he gets into a music career of his own — is the one on backing vocals and tambourine.  In this video, you’ll also see Neil St. Andrew on keyboards and Kenny Mo on drums.  Each one of them played at Baron’s 52nd birthday jam, and each of them helped to light up the place.  The video here is from Artista’s 4th annual Joyfest celebration on September 11, 2011, helping to bring some joy to an otherwise somber day on the 10th anniversary of 9-11.

Did you notice what Lester was saying at the beginning of that video?  He’s talking about God saying, “If you make one step (forward), I’ll make two.”  And he’s inviting people to “church.”  And he’s singing with as much heart and soul as he can muster.

He was singing with even more of it on New Year’s Eve as I sat five feet away from him in Baron’s family room and he sang a version of “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay” that sounded more like a gospel tune.  And when Lester sang from his heart on Bob Dylan’s (Dylan Chambers’ namesake) “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” it was sung with so much emotion that it brought tears to my eyes.

You see, Lester’s seen more than his share of hard times in his 70-plus years.  And he’s still not totally back on his feet yet, but he’s working on a comeback — something to put him squarely on the musical map.  He’s gotten some help from a non-profit organization like Sweet Relief Musicians Fund in the past, and now he’s trying harder than ever to “pull himself up by his own bootstraps.”

And I’m doing what I can to help Baron, to help Lester, and to help any other talented musicians there may be out there who have the kind of gifts that deserve and need to be heard but just can’t in this crazy world of creative artistry.

Chuck Steed on guitar and Steen Berrig on harmonica

It was an honor to meet Lester Chambers in person, to shake his hand, and to spend some time talking with him that New Year’s Eve.  He didn’t want to talk to me about any hard times in his lifetime that night.  He may have sensed the “old reporter” in me as he brushed any questioning from me along those lines aside, and that was perfectly fine.  He preferred to talk about the future, dwelling on the positive, the things he can do himself and with “a little help from his friends” to make his life and others’ lives better.  He preferred to sit in Baron’s comfortable love seat and watch some NBA basketball on the big screen while Chuck Steed on guitar and Steen Berrig on blues harp got warmed up as the other first guests to arrive, waiting for Dylan to bring Lester’s own harmonica to the party from their own place just a few houses down from Baron’s.

Lester Chambers, with eyes closed, singing "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay," gospel-style

It was sweet getting to know Lester in that time.  Lester is just one of those good, down-to-earth people.  And in this “church of music” (with Chuck Steed suggesting the name that night), it was pretty clear that Lester was the “pastor” of this particular “congregation.”  When Lester would close his eyes and start to sing, it was as though the voice of God was singing through him.

And that’s no stretch.

We’re talking about musicians here with some major talent, not just Lester.  Forgetting for a moment the fact that Baron is like a brother to me, he has written and recorded music that deserves to be heard on any smooth jazz radio station.  Baron and his friends and countless other musicians like them love what they do when they’re making music.  But that music doesn’t pay their bills, as much as they’d like it to.  Each of them has a full-time job outside of music.  And that’s a bit of a shame.  In a world where so much popular music is artificial, and flash-in-the-pan artists are the ones making the big bucks with studio tricks like auto-tuning that make audiences oooh and aaah, the ones making the real, live, honest-to-goodness talent-filled music are the ones struggling to pay their bills.

And that needs to change.  There is tons of talent that needs to be recognized, and it isn’t even coming close yet.  It’s going to take a movement.  It’s going to take something … BIGG! I’m stealing this from my own church pastor, Bernie Anderson, at Wasatch Hills Seventh-day Adventist from his sermon just yesterday (I was one of those in the congregation saying “Amen!”):  BIGG stands for Boldness, Inspired, Grace oriented, and Generous.

This is all just a small piece of the foundation that’s being laid by this particular movement.  Y’all are invited to see it being built, from the ground up!

It’s all about fulfilling the aspirations of many.

As the dust settles, see your dreams,
all coming true
it depends on you,
If our times, they are troubled times,
show us the way,
tell us what to do.

As our faith, maybe aimless blind,
hope our ideals
and our thoughts are yours
And believing the promises,
please make your claims
really so sincere.

Be our guide, our light and our way of life
and let the world see the way we lead our way.
Hopes, dreams, hopes, dreaming that all our
sorrow’s gone.

In your hands, holding everyone’s
future and fate
It is all in you,
Make us strong build our unity,
all men as one
it is all in you.

Be our guide, our light and our way of life
and let the world see the way we lead our way.
Hopes, dreams, hopes, dreaming that all our sorrow’s
gone … forever. — “Aspirations,” written by Kerry Minnear (vocals), Derek Shulman, Ray Shulman

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One thought on ““The Church of Music, Part 2” — The time has come!

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