Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Hubert SUMLIN with David JOHANSEN - Howlin' for Hubert (Live) 2004
Live, Chicago Blues Festival June 10,2004
Hubert Sumlin, now 78, is used to playing concerts like “Howlin’ for Hubert,” at the Jazz Standard through this weekend. He was the guitarist who played the silvery leads on Howlin’ Wolf’s great Chicago blues records of the 1950s and ’60s. On Thursday every tune was from Howlin’ Wolf’s songbook, and Wolf’s name scarcely needed to be mentioned. It’s a Hubert Sumlin gig now.
It helps if Wolf’s voice can be invoked, though, and that explained the presence of David Johansen. Mr. Johansen, who has worked with Mr. Sumlin before, is naturally comical with his baritone. His version of Howlin’ Wolf got at the broad humor that was always there, no matter how many times Wolf has been compounded into a feral myth.
Mr. Johansen also has a healthy sense of shtick: In songs like “Three Hundred Pounds of Joy” and “Who’s Been Talkin’,” he was full of eager petulance, a skinny man trying to fill out an extra-large suit.
But the real action arrived a little later. The guitarist James Blood Ulmer joined the band halfway through the set, and now there were three guitars, including that of Jimmy Vivino, of late-night television’s Max Weinberg 7, who acted as the evening’s musical director. And at the luckiest moments, there were triple-deckered guitar solos through slow music, showing completely different approaches to the instrument.
Mr. Sumlin — who sang, in a thin voice, on one song, “Sitting on Top of the World” — plucked his leads with his fingers, mostly restricting himself to the three higher strings. He was playing a Fender Stratocaster, and he made the most of that guitar’s vocal-sounding tones, with glottal stops and throaty cries.
Hubert Sumlin- Guitar
David Johansen- Vocals & Harmonica
LeVon Helm- Drums
Jimmy Vivino- Piano
Mike Merritt- Bass
01. Built for Comfort
02. Little Red Rooster
04. Backdoor Man
06. 300 Pounds of Joy
07. Tail Dragger
08. Sittin' On Top of the World
09. Where Did My Baby Go
10. Who's Been Talking
12. Killing Floor