My one glimpse of blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin in action was an unexpected pleasure — he appeared onstage during Elvis Costello’s 2005 performance at the Beacon Theatre in New York, and the two performed “Hidden Charms” with the widest possible grins on their faces. It was already a sensational concert, but it was elevated even further by their obvious pleasure in each other’s company and musicianship. The above clip was made only a few weeks ago in Montclair, so Sumlin was clearly making a habit of it.
Sumlin, who just died at the age of 80, was right-hand man to the larger-than-life Howlin’ Wolf, who for obvious reasons tended to suck up all the attention in any room. But you can glimpse him at work in some of these clips.
I hope Sumlin got the chance to see himself played by Albert Jones in the 2005 film Cadillac Records. That’s the formidable Eamonn Walker playing Wolf.