On his first meeting with Howlin’ Wolf, young Hubert Sumlin was sent home, not quite in shame, but close enough. Drop the pick, Wolf told him, and you’ll find your voice. Since that day, Sumlin, who will turn 80 in two weeks, has been tearing a sound out of the strings that only one man can replicate, and that man is Hubert himself. It’s the sound of his soul.
One doesn’t usually muse on the minutiae of Hubert Sumlin while listening to Lindsey Buckingham, but perhaps one should.
Buckingham is, of course, guitarist for Fleetwood Mac. Long before he joined that group, they were a pack of hairy London lads mimicking the Chicago blues of Muddy Waters, Otis Rush and, um, Howlin’ Wolf. You may say it’s a leap from the thumping, slippery groove of “Smokestack Lightning” to “Never Going Back Again,” but Buckingham might not.
And Buckingham, of course, lost the pick.
Wednesday at The Egg, Buckingham also lost his mind, and not just when he was singing “Go Insane.”