Chandler is suffering financially for two reasons. Once a tree-trimmer by day, he had to stop that work in January, 2008 after a branch he was hanging from during a job broke, causing him to fall and severely injure his spine. Doctors, who had to build a little cage inside of his body to keep his spine stable, gave him a 20 percent chance of walking. He does walk now, but with a cane.
Chandler, 55, whose fourth CD, "Pickin’ In High Cotton," is now digitally available on his website, said the overall drop in income leaves him with little resources to promote his recordings.
"It’s basically because I haven’t been able to work like I used to, both in my tree business and my music business," he said.
Chandler said he is two months behind in his rent .A veteran of the Navy, he said his medical expenses are being handled through the Veteran’s Administration.
Over the years, Chandler has gathered international recognition as a blues performer whose music respects the genre’s traditional southern roots and emphasizes its themes of surviving in the face of adversity. In 2009, he appeared on the cover of Living Blues magazine, the nation’s oldest blues periodical.
"Memphis is a great guy and a real deal bluesman," said Living Blues Editor Brett Bonner. "When we decided to put him on our cover in February 2009 he had two well received records out and had been on track to jump-start his career when he had the tree trimming accident. His story is a fascinating blues story. He began, like so many others, learning music in the church, then as he expanded he schooled with some of the masters of early Memphis blues….He became an integral part of the Memphis blues scene including working with Big Lucky Carter and the legendary juke joint band the Fieldstones. Memphis Gold has a unique style and is a skilled guitarist and songwriter."
Big Lucky Carter was a guitarist first known around Memphis in the 1940’s and 1950’s who actually didn’t make a major recording debut until he was 78 years old. Carter, who died in 2002 at the age of 82, made the album after he was discovered by the British producer responsible for the success of the rock group Fleetwood Mac.
Howard Feinstein, who helped organize Thursday’s line-up, said area musicians were eager to participate, and that he had to turn some away. "It was easy. Musicians come through for each other in things like that. They all know how it is," said Feinstein, a onetime civil rights lawyer and federal prosecutor turned keyboardist who once played with Parker.
Kirk Jackson writes Beldon’s Blues Point, a music blog. It can be reached at http://www.beldonsbluespoint.blogspot.com. WI