Coming to theatres this Friday, August 18:
SIDEMEN: LONG ROAD TO GLORY
Scott D Rosenbaum
Nashville, Gold Coast, Woods Hole, Calgary
A tribute to unheralded blues musicians who supported stars Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.
Rosenbaum’s reverent portrait is one in the growing subgenre of music docs that aims to finally give due to talented but previously unrecognized background or supporting performers. In this case, the focus is on African-American bluesmen Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, and Hubert Sumlin, who contributed piano, drums, and guitar, respectively for luminaries like Waters and Wolf. While falling on rough times after these band leaders died, the sidemen experienced a resurgence of interest in their later years as their music was rediscovered by younger audiences interested in the roots of rock and roll, and finally received some of the industry accolades that had long eluded them, including Grammy Awards for Perkins and Smith in 2011. Drawn from interviews conducted before the deaths of all three in that year, the film offers an unfortunately conventional biographical portrait, livened up somewhat with music and performance footage, as it charts their careers and the influence they had on musicians who followed them.