Three influential Delta bluesmen are affectionately given their long overdue time in the spotlight in Scott Rosenbaum’s fittingly soulful “Sidemen: Long Road to Glory.”
With almost 200 years of gigging among them, piano player Pinetop Perkins, drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and guitarist Hubert Sumlin would have shared a legacy confined to the liner notes of old Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf albums had it not been for music’s cyclical nature.
Thanks to such British disciples of American blues as the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, who would subsequently pass the torch to Jimi Hendrix and the Allman Brothers, and, later, the White Stripes and the Black Keys, the trio of surviving Waters and Wolf sidemen suddenly found themselves in demand.
Although Rosenbaum’s original plans for a “Last Waltz-style” concert film with Perkins, Smith and Sumlin backed by many of the musicians they influenced had to be scratched following the 2011 deaths of all three, he has cobbled together enough performance snippets and tributes from the likes of Clapton, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt and the late Gregg Allman and Johnny Winter to set a warmly reverent tone.
It may have been a long road to glory, but seeing Perkins (then 97) and Smith (75) enthusiastically accept a 2011 Grammy for their album “Joined at the Hip,” it’s readily apparent that it was worth the trip.
‘Sidemen: Long Road to Glory’
Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood