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Hubert Sumlin - Living the Blues

Hubert Sumlin - Living the Blues composed by Hubert Sumlin. For Guitar (Fingerpicking). Boxed, Concert/Documentary. Vestapol. Blues. DVD. 87 pages. Duration 87 minutes. Published by Grossman's Guitar Workshop (MB.13127DVD).

This DVD presents the film Hubert Sumlin - Living the Blues. The film traces the career of Hubert Sumlin, the legendary blues guitarist, who played for 25 years with the Howlin' Wolf Band. His distinctive sound shaped the songs made famous by the Wolf including Smokestack Lightnin', Killing Floor, and Sitting on Top of the World. After the death of Wolf in 1976, Hubert had to re-invent himself as an instrumentalist and as a bandleader. The film includes interviews with Hubert as well as with James Cotton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and is highlighted by archival black and white documentary footage from the 1964 folk festival tour of Europe which included Lightnin' Hopkins, Willie Dixon, Sugar Pie Desanto, as well as Hubert and the Wolf.

Born in the Mississippi Delta, Hubert Sumlin is a self taught guitarist whose musical roots originate in the gospel music of the Sanctified Baptist church, where he first played guitar. Listening to late night radio, he became aware of James Cotton, whose weekly radio show was heard in the area. When guitarist Pat Hare was unable to perform one night, Cotton approached the youthful Sumlin to sit in for him. "He got him a pencil", says James Cotton in the film, "and wrapped it with a wire on the guitar to act like a capo, he turned to me and said "I'm ready now. We went on and he hit it note for note. I couldn't tell that it wasn't Pat Hare sitting there. After we played together for a while the Wolf sent for Hubert to come to Chicago. I told him he should go, 'cause he'd make more money with Wolf than he would with me."

Rocker Stevie Ray Vaughan, in a 1985 interview from the film, says "Hubert's the heaviest, most original guitar player I've ever heard...and that's the truth!' Speaking candidly before a Boston concert, Stevie Ray credits Hubert as a major influence on his style. "Hubert's one of the guys who sat down and taught me stuff," agrees Ronnie Earl.

Bonus Material: From the Homespun Tapes instructional DVD, The Guitar of Hubert Sumlin several excerpts where Hubert talks and demonstrates his approach to playing the blues. He is joined by a stellar band that includes Jimmy Vivino, Levon Helm, Michael Merritt and Buster Poindexter. On the DVD you will find a PDF file of an article. Hubert wrote for Living Blues magazine My Years with Wolf.

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