SXSW Film 2016: Brilliant 'Sidemen' worth your time
Sidemen, by the very nature of the job description, rarely get the type of attention and acclaim heaped upon the bandleader. All sidemen, however, are not created equal.
And guitarist Hubert Sumlin, drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and pianist Pinetop Perkins -- the three subjects of documentary film "Sidemen: Long Road to Glory" -- are certainly worthy of much celebration.
"There wouldn't be any rock 'n' roll if it wasn't for those guys," bluesman Johnny Winter says in the film. "They've had a huge influence."
"Sidemen" does a brilliant job backing up that claim, showing how their electrifying Chicago blues work of the '50s and '60s would influence countless early rockers and alter the course of popular music history.
That's especially true of Sumlin, the mighty guitarist from Howlin' Wolf's band.
"It blows my mind that Hubert Sumlin is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," blues-guitarist Lance Lopez says. "You can hear Hubert Sumlin in every modern lead guitarist today -- he's every bit as important as Chuck Berry in that respect."
Sumlin, Smith and Perkins -- the latter two being best known for their work with Muddy Waters -- all died in 2011. But all music fans should know their stories, so please give "Sidemen" your attention. (Also Bay Area fans should get a kick out of seeing the wonderful performance footage from the lovely Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.)