Blues Blast was in the house when Blues fans in Berkeley, California, ascended upon the Art House Gallery on 11/15/15. We came out en masse in support of electric Blues lap steel guitarist Freddie Roulette. The celebrated Mr. Roulette lost all his possessions including his lap steel guitar in a house fire. Reports indicated that Roulette had actually cleared the fire with his guitar case aflame, its precious cargo intact. After setting it down, he went back into the house to retrieve his cat and rouse his roommates. When he returned some brazen hooligan had stolen the guitar.
Hailing from Evanston, Illinois, as a grade schooler Freddie Roulette became entranced with the steel guitar, took lessons, gained proficiency and eventually started playing Chicago Blues joints. In 1965 he joined Earl Hookers band with Pinetop Perkins, Carey Bell and Andrew Odom.
In addition to recording with Earl Hooker, Mr. Roulette has recorded with Charlie Musselwhite, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, John Lee Hooker, Don “Sugarcane” Harris, Willie Kent, Chico Banks and a host of others.
Roulette’s debut solo album, Sweet Funky Steel was produced by fellow guitar ace Harvey Mandel. His 1997 album Back In Chicago: Jammin’ with Willie Kent & The Gents, won the Living Blues Magazine for Best Blues Album of 1997.
The crush of people responding to Freddie Roulette’s need resulted in a standing room only situation at the Art House Gallery. Performers included Johnny Otis progeny Jon Otis, bassist for Merl Saunders and Randy Crawford-Michael Warren, guitarist Stan Erhart, guitarist Chris Cobb, harmonica player Will Scarlett from Hot Tuna, Jose & Eloy Najera from The Bernal Beat, Lester Chambers of The Chambers Brothers and his son Dylan, drummer Roy Blumenfield, 13 year veteran of the John Lee Hooker Coast to Coast Blues Band-Rich Kirch, David Aquilar from Lester Chambers Mudstompers Band, bari sax maestro Snooky Flowers who played in Janis Joplin’s Kozmic Blues Band as well as with Michael Bloomfield, saxophonist Brad Jenkins, keyboard and flute player Mindy Canter,drummer and promoter of the event and former bandleader for Country Joe McDonald- Michael Borbridge, harmonica player Walter Hand, Peter Albin from Big Brother & The Holding Company, bassist Henry Oden, singer song writer Nick Gravenites, famous for his work with Janis Joplin and Paul Butterfield, the legendary Harvey Mandel, Brad Jenkins on sax, Rick Baskin on harmonica, master percussionist Qiqe, Lady Bianca on keyboards and vocals and main man of the hour Freddie Roulette. There was also an open floor Blues jam for musicians as a finale to the event. It was a nostalgic finger poppin’ good time for a worthy cause.
Dylan & Lester Chambers