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Music community remembers blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin

Peter Mongillo, Music Source

Staff Writer
Austin 360

The blues world lost another great over the weekend with the passing of Hubert Sumlin,who died in New Jersey at age 80. Sumlin, who was best known as the guitarist for blues legendHowlin' Wolf,had a connection to Austin that began with a friendship with late club owner Clifford Antone.

He first arrived at Antone's in 1976, and he and Clifford Antone became fast friends. "Hubert was one of those people that when you left him, you always had a smile on your face," Susan Antone said Monday.

Over the years, Sumlin played with several Austin-based musicians, including Pinetop Perkins, with whom Sumlin recorded a 1998 collaborative album, "Legends."

Austin guitarist Derek O'Brien, who also played with Sumlin over the years, remembers when Sumlin first came to Austin. "We were excited to see Hubert, he was almost as much a part of the Wolf sound as Wolf," O'Brien said. "He had a really big heart and was generous almost to a fault."

Born in Mississippi in 1931 and raised in Arkansas, Sumlin moved to Chicago at an early age to play with Howlin' Wolf, making his mark on several recordings including "Wang Dang Doodle" and "Killing Floor." "He was a wild lead solo player," O'Brien said. "Everybody that tried to play the blues has been influenced by Hubert Sumlin."

That "everybody" included Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page and the Rolling Stones, who invited Sumlin on stage at Madison Square Garden in 2003 and have named Sumlin as an influence. "Rolling Stone" magazine recently named Sumlin No. 43 on a list of the greatest guitarists of all time.

SXSW keynote and more bands.Many members of the music world woke up to an early Christmas gift Thursday with the announcement that rock legend Bruce Springsteen will deliver the keynote address at the 2012 South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival. "He's been on our wish list for more than 20 years," SXSW creative director Brent Grulke said. "I have never found anything that Bruce Springsteen has done less than extraordinarily compelling. He already has added a level of excitement."

SXSW added to that excitement today with a mammoth list of bands scheduled to play the March festival, including Northwest rockers Blitzen Trapper and Built to Spill, Philadelphia's the War on Drugs and rapper Talib Kweli. The Young, the Ripe, Heartless Bastards, Frank Smith, Carolyn Wonderland, Amplified Heat and the Creamers are among the Austin-based bands on the list. Go to austin360.com/musicsourcefor the complete list.

Marcia Ball gets Grammy nomination. Marcia Ball's "Roadside Attractions" was nominated for a Grammy in the best blues album category, her fourth consecutive album to be nominated and fifth overall nomination. Ball is up against Keb Mo and solo/side projects from a good chunk of the Allman Brothers Band, including Greg Allman, Warren Haynes and the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Kanye West, Bon Iver and Adele were among the artists earning multiple nominations in other categories. The winners will be announced Feb. 12. Ball plays the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar on Dec. 20.

Steady there. Craig Finn of the Hold Steady will get ready for a tour to support his upcoming solo album, "Clear Heart Full Eyes" (yes it's a "Friday Night Lights" reference) with a show Saturday at Frank. The music was recorded in Austin over the summer with producer Mike McCarthy and Austin-based musicians Josh Block, Jesse Ebaugh, Ricky Ray Jackson, Billy White, and Will Johnson of Centro-matic.

In brief:Austin based singer-songwriter Ben Kweller has formed his own label, Noise Company, which will release "Go Fly a Kite," his fifth album and followup to 2009's "Changing Horses," on Feb. 7. ... Austin's the Heartless Bastards release "Arrow," the followup to "The Mountain," on Feb. 14. ... Ray Price and Lukas Nelson are among the friends that will be joining Willie Nelsonfor his Dec. 30-31 shows at ACL Live. The Gourdsjoin the lineup Dec. 31.