The Rocks Off 100: Ramblin' Chase Hamblin, the Man Who Will Be Paid
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too.
Who? Who? The very idea that I even have to tell you who Chase Hamblin is makes me feel all weird inside. On the other hand, maybe you just woke up from a coma or something. So first off, congratulations and we wish you well on the road to full recovery, and second, you've got to hear this cat.
Photo by Jeff Hunter
He's a talented troubadour in the classic fashion, a singer-songwriter with an uncanny knack for wedding folk melodies to cutting, introspective lyrics. His 2009 EP A Fine Time made many, many best-of lists for its pop power and deep digs at the modern world. Plus it's only $5, so open a new tab and come back when you're living in a better world for clicking that link.
Luckily, Hamblin is due to release a full-length affair early this year, so keep an eye out for more information when a date for VAUdeVILLE is announced.
Home Base: When writing, you can find Hamblin in the extremely haunted Elder Street Lofts channeling brilliance over the bones of old Confederate soldiers. Once it's time to whip his band, The Roustabouts, into shape, they move over to the Sterrett Street Studios, which they share with the Sideshow Tramps. You can also find him at laying down tracks at SugarHill.
Hamblin has probably played every available venue in the city, but he holds Fitzgerald's and The Continental Club most dear. The Continental he enjoys for the built-in audience and the atmosphere, while Fitz's has a greatly improved sound system that has made it more than one Houston musician's new favorite haunt.
Good War Story: "One of the best war stories I have comes from a gig I did with my '60s British Invasion cover band, Picture Book," Hamblin opens. "We played the anniversary of a fancy steakhouse in the Galleria, which I cannot name for legal reasons."
The World's Most Interesting Man was there, a lot of photographers and a ritzy, upscale crowd. We played three sets over four hours and management said we were doing great. The crowd loved us; we were playing requests and doing them well.
At the end of the night the owner, whom I had never even met, came up to me cursing and threatened not to pay us because he said we played way too loud. Keep in mind we were booked to play The Who, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, etc. He took me to a back room to try to intimidate me. I tried to explain that we have a contract, that he could have told us at any point over four hours to turn down, that his customers and managers loved us, etc.
After he continued to belittle and insult me, I finally broke. I got up, spat on his floor, told him to copulate with himself, and then marched back into the bar area where we played. I jumped up on my amp and yelled out, 'Hey, who here enjoyed us playing tonight!?' Everyone in the joint cheered. 'Oh yeah, well the owner of this place is trying to not pay us for a four-hour gig!'
People starting looking around going 'What? What?' The photographers started shooting me. The assistant manager came running over pleading for me to come down and be quiet. I said, 'Not until you pay us. I know all the press in town. I'll tell everyone if you try to screw us!'
Sure enough, they took our bassist outside and paid him. I gained a lot of respect from my bandmates that night. Haven't been asked back, though, and was advised to not speak.