Leo Matthew Chamberlain
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Leo Matthew Chamberlain

Richmond, Kentucky, United States

Richmond, Kentucky, United States
Band Blues Singer/Songwriter


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Leo Matthew Chamberlain (musician)

Leo Matthew Chamberlain (born Oct 20, 1966), is a self-taught musician who plays the guitar, piano, Hammond organ, bass, percussion, mandolin. Some consider him a musicologist when it comes to the history, players, styles and techniques of the blues.

Early Life
Leo grew up in Fort Myers, Florida. Parents John Sr. (1928-2002) and Goldie (1929-2002). He received his first guitar from his brother Mike at the age of 10, and by age 13 he was playing Jimi Hendrix tunes note for note.
Leo's dad, John Sr. was a piano prodigy who was playing at age 5. John Sr. had his own radio show at 16 in Louisville, Ky. He also performed for then General Eisenhower while in the Army and later at the Ryman (Opry) in 1952. It is only natural that Leo wanted to be a musician, there was always music in the house and his Dad was his hero. Leo's Mom had a beautiful singing voice and sang all the time.
Leo started piano at age 8 but lost interest when he soon discovered he could never play like his Dad. In middle school, Leo wanted to learn the trombone and be like Tommy Dorsey but the teacher refused to teach it. That was the end of Leo's interest in 'band' at school. At about 10, Leo heard Koko Taylor and discovered Alligator Records - the blues was all he wanted to study! Leo's brothers Mike and Jim would always play great music around the house and Leo discovered Rarre Earth with Peter Rivera, Allman Brothers Band (Dickey Betts in particular), Santana and many others. You can hear all of these influences in his melodic, very bluesy style, especially the Dickey Betts influence. In the 80's, Leo discovered the legendary Gary Moore. The bluesy style of Gary Moore is a main component of Leo's style.

In 1983 he formed a band called Grey Haven, who played blues, Hendrix, Dokken and the heavy rock of the day. About 19, Leo was gigging professionally with his Dad and brother. This band travelled frequently and had a great following in Ft. Myers and southwest Florida. and played for a "sea of people" at the Edison Pagent of Light. Dixie River Band (DRB) played many special events over the years including festivals, CMA gatherings and private parties. During his time with DRB, Leo was offered the lead guitar spot for Roni Stoneman of Hee Haw fame when she heard him play at GW's Roadhouse. This would have provided Leo access to other artists such as Charlie Daniels, but Leo was quick to turn down the job: favoring to play music with his Dad and brother instead. About this time, Chamberlain discovered George Lynch and Jimmy Dormire and they were a huge inspiration. For the last several years, Leo was playing lead guitar and keyboards in a band with his brothers, Flashback (see friends). In 2009, Leo decided to retire from performing other people's music and decided to concentrate on writing and recording original music in his private recording studio. Leo is also a Master Electrician and Recording engineer that utilizes the industry standard Pro Tools recording software. Leo is currently working on a follow-up demo cd for Mr. Bruce Iglauer at Alligator Records.

Musical Style
On guitar, Chamberlain's picking style is varied. From fingerpicking ala Albert Collins, to flamenco technique picked up from Roy Buchanan, to a flatpick. "I play with a flatpick," he says, "when I play alot of faster passages". One element not in his style is the two-handed tapping technique popularized in the 80's. "I am from the blusier school of players like Hendrix and Clapton and I just never found that technique all that pleasing to the ear. I can do it, but I avoid it!". Early in his musical career Chamberlain studied the various styles of his favorite blues players, including musicians like B.B King, Albert Collins, Roy Buchanan, Son Seals, Clapton, Hendrix, Son House, Howlin' Wolf, Mississippi John Hurt, and Sonny Terry. On piano and keyboards, his main influence is his father who Leo says: "Dad was the best piano player that ever lived, in my opinion." Influences such as Frankie Carle, Floyd Cramer and Mickey Gilley filtered down to Leo from his father.

Main guitar: 2009/1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard with faded finish, Takamine 12-string jumbo acoustic-electric, Custom Telecaster (built by Leo), Les Paul (blue), Mesa Boogie Mark IIB Amplifier, straight into the Boogie amp - no effects, Yamaha CP-70 piano, Hammond Porta-B organ.

Note from Leo:
"I would like to thank Barry Richman (barryrichman.com) and Mark Hanson (www.myspace.com/dejavoodoo1975) for the inspiration to continue playing. I am a huge fan of Barry and Mark's playing and I am humbled by their talents!"