Covid-19 is dangerously impacting the social-economic category of musicians. No concerts, poor political and social consideration, uncertain earnings. As a consequence, an ever-growing number of musicians, especially those from the experimental area, are trying to promote their music on BandCamp in digital format only. It is increasingly difficult for me to follow and review this incredible flow of music. I therefore decided to open this section on my blog Neuguitars where I propose music in digital format that I consider particularly interesting and worthy of attention. I hope you like it. Let’s support musicians. They need it.
Crawling Kingsnake b/w Hubert’s Boogie by Hubert Sumlin, BandCamp, 2020 on #neuguitars #blog
The word “legend” is often applied easily to honor those whose work may be of greater or lesser significance. However, as bestowed on the late guitarist Hubert Sumlin, “legendary” is only the first of many superlative accolades. Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, and others in Chicago bridged the gap between acoustic country blues styles and electric innovation. In Wolf’s band, Hubert’s playing was an adrenaline-fueled counterpoint that elevated the songs and their attendant riffs to iconic status. As a child in Arkansas, Hubert knew Wolf and his music and would sneak out to hear him play. In 1954, Wolf sent for him to join his band and within that format, Hubert developed a personal style using his fingers instead of a plectrum to create an intensely vocal sound full of sweeping lines, shrieks, scrapes, and pungent melodies. Hubert’s licks became the defining riffs for many classic songs, touchstones for all guitarists who played blues and rock with his DNA strongly evident in the work of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Robbie Robertson, Jimmy Page, as well as yours truly.
Terraplane had the honor of backing Hubert at a show at NYC’s Knitting Factory in 1994 which led to my producing a session for Hubert at a small studio in Chinatown as well as recording his solo show at the Terra Blues club in the West Village. For various reasons, the finished album was never released and the tapes went missing. Working through boxes of archival materials on one dreary covid afternoon during this summer of 2020, the DAT tapes were discovered and soon converted to WAV files. While sonic limitations in the recordings were revealed, it was still possible to create a full master for the album, New York ’95, (with two extra tracks!) to be released by the end of 2020.
In advance of the album release, the extras are here presented for your listening pleasure. “Crawling King Snake” originated as a Delta Blues in the 1920s but in its modern version was first recorded by Tony Hollins in 1941 and soon covered by Big Joe Williams and then John Lee Hooker for whom it became a huge hit on the 1949 Billboard R&B charts. In Hubert’s version, he adds humor to leaven the dark menace of the lyrics and plays extroverted and sparkling guitar with a strong groove throughout despite the lack of rhythm section. This groove is brought to the forefront in “Hubert’s Boogie” where Hubert generates a relentless and hypnotic pulse with variations kept tight and terse but no less thrilling for it
released November 6, 2020
Produced by Elliott Sharp
Recorded at Seltzer Sound, NYC, by Carl Seltzer, June 1995
Remix and mastered at Studio zOaR, NYC, August 2020.
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