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Time is looking up for Chambers brother

  • Lester Chambers of the 1960s band the Chamber Brothers now leads a new group, the Lester Chambers Blues Revue. (CHARLIE ELLICOTT)

At 70, Lester Chambers of the seminal '60s rock and soul group, the Chambers Brothers, still can rock out.

Back then, he sang, “Time Has Come Today,” and now he believes his time has come again.

But he doesn't play all night anymore. Instead, he rocks on Sunday afternoons, leading a weekly jam session at George's Nightclub in San Rafael.

It's a short commute for Chambers, who settled last summer in Petaluma with his son, singer and percussionist Dylan Chambers.

They moved down together from Copperopolis in Calaveras County to connect with one of Lester Chambers' longtime musician pals, only to discover that the friend had gone to New Orleans. And the contact who had offered to find Chambers a place to stay was out of town.

“Last summer was bad, bad, bad,” Chambers said. “I thought there would be a house or an apartment. I had cash to rent a place, but we wound up in a motel for about a month and a half. That kinda took care of some cash for me.”

After that, Chambers and his son spent some nights sleeping in a recording studio until they could rent a house.

“It wasn't like I was ever completely homeless,” he said. “We were indoors, but not the way we wanted.”

Just the same, the word went out into the rock music world that Lester Chambers had troubles, and some big names responded.

Yoko Ono donated money through the musicians' support group, Sweet Relief. Guitarist Steve Cropper, of Booker T and the MGs and the Blues Brothers backup band, offered to tour or record with Chambers. Those plans are still pending, Chambers said.

Chambers has also struggled for decades with health problems, but now he's feeling stronger. His colon cancer has been in remission for 15 years. He had surgery four years ago for a neck injury, which he believes was caused by decades of banging on his trademark cowbell on stage. And he's learning to cope with chronic hypertension.

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