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<NO1><NO> in Calaveras<NO1><NO> 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.
"For a long time, I tried to perform, but I just felt so down and out, I couldn't. But now I feel better and better," he said.
About a year and a half ago, Chambers finished and released "Do You Believe in Rock 'n' Roll?" — a CD he had been working on for four or five years. He sings songs from that album at his Sunday sessions in San Rafael.
His son Dylan backs him on those dates, along with guitarist Chick Peterson,<NO1><NO> keyboardist Kim Roy Berry,<NO1><NO> bassist Baron Chase<NO1><NO> and drummer Joe Provost.<NO1><NO>
Chambers still does believe in rock &‘n' roll, and the peace and freedom message of the '60s.
"Yes, it's all still true. I still feel that way," he said.
Looking back on his career, Chambers is still proud of the music he made with brothers Joe, Willie and George,<NO1><NO> and the band's fifth member, Brian Keenan.<NO1><NO>
"Of course I'm gonna say it was one of the greatest psychedelic gospel rock groups there ever was," he said. "We were the trailblazers. We made a lot of roads possible, and we opened a lot of doors.
"Our song, &‘Time Has Come Today,' is still one of the most requested songs on the radio, but they don't play it a lot, because it's 11 minutes long," Chambers said. It's still received well every time I play it. People get on their feet."