Hubert Sumlin

Howlin' Wolf's former sideman keeps it real


9:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, December 20-21. Tickets cost $20. Call 561-585-2583.
Bamboo Room, 25 S. "J" St., Lake Worth

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A common tendency among bluesmen today is to gain credibility by claiming that one's father was good friends with Muddy Waters, that one played guitar with Son House for a few months in the Delta, and so on. But why check out the namedroppers when you can see an original? Hubert Sumlin got his start the way any 70-year-old blues guitarist should, by playing pine-tops in the Mississippi Delta. He eventually made the pilgrimage to Chicago and got a gig as Howlin' Wolf's rhythm guitarist in 1954, taking lead duties by 1958. Those are his impressive chops on "Killing Floor," "Hidden Charms," and a great many of the big man's other tunes. His attacking guitar style, often soloing right through Howlin' Wolf's vocals, was as much a mark of the songs as Wolf's throaty wail. With Howlin' Wolf's death in 1976, Sumlin has had an on-again, off-again solo career. His vocals don't have even a shadow of Howlin' Wolf's presence, but his guitar has never slowed.

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