Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Warren Haynes, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph and More Pay Tribute to Hubert Sumlin in New York
On Friday night, an all-star lineup of blues guitarists and musicians gathered at New York City’s Apollo Theater to pay tribute to legendary bluesman Hubert Sumlin. Initially planned as a celebration of Sumlin’s 80th Birthday, the event turned into a tribute night, dubbed ‘Howlin’ For Hubert,’ following his death in December. Billed as a benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America, the event featured performances by Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Warren Haynes, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Elvis Costello, Jimmie Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Derek Trucks, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jimmy Vivino and many others.
The night began with a video tribute to Sumlin, before the lights came on revealing two large portraits of Sumlin behind the stage and his trademark sunburst Stratocaster sitting on a stand with his feathered hat perched atop its headstock. Moments later, Clapton and James Cotton appeared onstage to kick off the performances with an acoustic take on “Key To The Highway.” This first pairing set the tone for the historical evening, with numerous all-star musicians coming together on stage over the course of the next several hours to pay tribute to their fallen hero.
During the first set, Jimmie Vaughan, Big Head Todd frontman Todd Park Mohr, New York Dolls singer David Johannsen and Warren Haynes offered highlight moments; including Todd Park Mohr’s song composed specially for Hubert’s memory; Johannsen and Jimmy Vivino take on “Evil;” along with Haynes, Kim Wilson and Billy Gibbons’ versions of Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Asked For Water” and “Mister Highway Man.”
In the second half, all-star collaborations continued, featuring the stellar houseband consisting of drummers Steve Jordan and Jim Keltner, bassist Willie Weeks and pianist Ivan Neville. Early in the set, Doyle Bramhall II teamed up with Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi on “How Many More Years” and “Three Hundred Pounds of Joy” while Robert Randolph joined Buddy Guy and his 12-year old protege Quinn Sullivan on “Hoochie Coochie Man”. Shortly after, Clapton reappeared to join Gary Clark Jr. on “Shake For Me, Little Baby,” “Forty-Four” and “Goin’ Down Slow,” the last of which saw Keith Richards make his way to the stage to join on guest vocals. Richards then performed a take on “Little Red Rooster” with James Cotton, before Clapton reemerged for the set-closing “Spoonful.”
For the encore, more than 30 of the evening’s musicians joined in on two songs Sumlin had originally performed with Howlin’ Wolf, “Smokestack Lightning” and “Wang Dang Doodle.”
See below for more videos from the performance courtesy of Hidden Track.