I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon in bed, finally getting some time to rest a head cold. The only way for me to get proper rest is to go off line; no emails, no facebook, no news. I lasted until about 6:30 p.m. I opened FB, and saw Matt Hill’s status on the passing of Hubert Sumlin at the age of 80. My heart sank.
Just the weekend before, Thanksgiving Weekend, Bob Margolin was in Boulder for the Otis Taylor Trance Blues Workshop/Jam/Festival, and he and I talked about what a difficult year the Blues has suffered. We were sitting at the bar of Blues & Greens at the Outlook, as we have so many times over the years, having a quick bite in between workshop sessions. Because the restaurant staff has suffered an inexplicable number of tragedies, particularly in the young sibling department, the subject of loss was heavily in the air: the 39-year old sister of one of our senior bartenders (and one of my best friends) was terminally ill, and passed away the day after this conversation. Three weeks earlier was the sudden passing of another bartender’s 22-year old brother.
We both decided “beaten” was the most apposite description for 2011. Pinetop, Honeyboy, Willie “Big Eyes,” Mojo Buford, John-Alex, and now Hubert. I never had the privilege of hearing Mr. Sumlin live, nor meeting him, so I know him only through the eyes and heart of Bob. My first real impression of him came about through an email exchange with Bob. It was a few years ago, and was venting after having spent an unpleasant evening with a less-than-pleasant artist, something that has only happened once at the Outlook (most Blues artists are just too real to behave like that). Bob wrote that there is no excuse for that kind of behavior, no matter who you are. And then I read the words that have stuck in my head in more ways than one: “Hubert Sumlin and B.B. King are the two most gracious people I’ve ever known.” I’ve not met B.B. either, and if I never do, I still know that he’s a gracious man.
So, when I read Matt’s status, I realized the world, which is in desperate need of grace, is now a little less gracious. And that Bob, once again, was getting punched in the gut, and there is nothing I can do to make my friend not hurt so much. Except maybe to tell him the reason that email exchange and what he said about Hubert and B.B., stuck so solidly in my head back then, was I realized at that moment my own obligation to emulate them, my own obligation to be gracious in life. I don’t always succeed, but it’s a goal worthy of endeavor, and a manner in which we can all bring some grace to the world in Mr. Sumlin’s honor.
~Honey Bee Sepeda~