Sidemen: Long Road To Glory celebrates the contributions that Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Hubert Sumlin made to the blues musical genre.
Scott Rosenbaum came to direct Sidemen following the inclusion of the aforementioned musicians in a previous feature film of his, The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll. They were cast because of the authenticity they added for the evolution of rock and roll through blues. One thing led to another and soon Rosenbaum had an idea for a new film. Sidemen was supposed to be a “last waltz” type of film celebrating the lives of the former Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf sidemen but their deaths–all in 2011–changed the vision of the film. The three of them are interviewed along with Gregg Allman, Joe Bonamassa, Shemekia Copeland, Warren Haynes, Robby Krieger (The Doors), Joe Perry, Bonnie Raitt, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks and Johnny Winter. Comedian Marc Maron, known for his WTF podcast, narrates the film.
Because they died, we are treated to their final interviews and performances as they go on tour as The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll Blues Band, joined by Sugar Blue, Robert Stroger and Bob Margolin. They performed well into their 80s and 90s and are joined in their performances by those blues and rock musicians who they inspired. When you look at many of these classic blues musicians, they have inspired so many over the years. If you love the blues genre, it’s a fascinating documentary to watch. The soundtrack alone makes it worth your time as you listen to some of the people who played a key role in shaping the foundations of American blues music and later rock music that followed.
If anyone has taken a history of rock and roll course, they will have already come to appreciate just how much the blues genre influenced the early days of rock and roll. The great Eric Clapton is a musician that comes to mind. Granted, Clapton is more blues rock then rock and it shows through his musical selections.
The blues are a genre, with roots in the Missisppi Delta and Chicago, that I came to love following my first viewing of The Blues Brothers in the early 2000s. A clip of John Lee Hooker singing is shown in Sidemen. If you’re looking for other modern day films that celebrate the blues, there’s not much of a selection other than concert films. Outside of The Blues Brothers, the best I can think of is the recently premiered Chasing The Blues.
Following its world premiere at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival, Sidemen opened in New York on August 18, 2017. The blues documentary will open on Friday, October 20 at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.