Sorry President Obama, I think last night’s tribute to the blues, in the form of a memorial concert for late bluesman Hubert Sumlin, might have your recent event at The White House beat. A who’s who of legendary musicians including Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Jody Williams, Henry Gray, Eddie Shaw and James Cotton came together with younger stalwarts Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Todd Mohr, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Gary Clark Jr., Quinn Sullivan and Susan Tedeschi to pay their respects to Sumlin at the Apollo Theatre.
[The Encore via LadyMusic777]
The show – billed as Howlin’ For Hubert – started with a video tribute to Sumlin, who passed away in December. Clapton delivered an acoustic Key To The Highway with James Cotton to kick off the actual performances. Next, Cotton welcomed Todd Mohr out and then the Big Head Todd singer played a song with improvised lyrics about Hubert. This was followed by a segment featuring Jimmy Vaughan singing Six Strings Down and then Kenny Wayne Shepherd took the stage with Chicago bluesman Jody Williams for a version of Williams’ Lucky Lou. Second generation bluesman Ronnie Baker Brooks and Louisiana native Lonnie Brooks combined powers for Sweet Home Chicago before Chicago blues tenor saxophonist Eddie Shaw and piano player Henry Gray tackled Sittin’ On Top of The World. Gray and Shaw stayed out and brought on Elvis Costello for a take on Howlin Wolf’s Hidden Charms. Up next was HT fave Warren Haynes, who teamed up with harmonica player Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds for You’ll Be Mine. For the grand finale of the first set, Haynes was joined by Gibbons and Wilson on Wolf’s I Asked For Water and Mister Highway Man.
Wilson returned to kicked off the second set with Who’s Been Talkin’, backed by the house band of Ivan Neville, Billy Flynn, Steve Jordan, Danny Korchmar, Larry Taylor, Willie Weeks, Kim Wilson and Barrelhouse Chuck Goering. Keb Mo made his Apollo debut next on Howlin’ With My Baby and Commit A Crime. From there, Derek Trucks came out with Jimmy Vaughan to lead the band through Meet Me At The Bottom. Derek’s wife Susan Tedeschi got in on the act for How Many More Years and Three Hundred Pounds of Joy. After that, Guy was joined by his 12-year-old protege Quinn Sullivan before Robert Randolph and Wilson performed Hoochie Coochie Man with Buddy. Guy’s segment concluded with Beggin’ You Please featuring Shemekia Copeland on vocals.
Gary Clark Jr. stole the show at The White House last week with Catfish Blues, so it was no surprise the Austin-based musician led off his segment with the Robert Petway tune. Towards the end of the set Clapton returned to accompany Clark Jr. on Shake For Me, Little Baby, Forty-Four and Goin’ Down Slow. Keith Richards took the stage at the end of the set for a Little Red Rooster with Cotton and then a Spoonful featuring EC and Cotton.
The encore saw the evening’s performers, over 30 musicians in all, combine their talents on two songs Sumlin played often with boss Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Lightning and Wang Dang Doodle. Howlin’ For Hubert was a benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America. While it didn’t have the sitting president singing, last night’s show featured many of the same musicians who performed at The White House on Tuesday night and then some. What a fitting send off for the blues legend.
- Videos: Eric Clapton and James Cotton – Key to the Highway, Big Head Todd segment, Jimmy Vaughan – Six Strings Down, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and James Cotton – Spoonful, Buddy Guy w/ Robert Randolph - Hoochie Coochie Man, Keith Richards and James Cotton – Little Red Rooster, Warren Haynes and Kim Wilson – You’ll Be Mine, Buddy Guy, Shemekia Copeland and Kim Wilson – Beggin’ You Please, Eric Clapton – Forty-Four, Warren Haynes, Kim Wilson and Billy Gibbons – I Asked For Water, Warren Haynes, Kim Wilson and Billy Gibbons – Mr. Highway Man, Eric Clapton and Gary Clark Jr. – Shake For Me, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Gary Clark Jr. and Kim Wilson – Goin’ Down Slow, Kenny Wayne Shephard and Jody Williams – Lucky Lou, Buddy Guy, Quinn Sullivan, Kim Wilson and Robert Randolph – Going Down,
- Photos: Kevin Mazur for WireImage