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Blues, The 7xVarious

This seven-film television series contains personal and impressionistic feature-length films viewed through the lens of seven world-famous directors who share a passion for the music. The Blues captures the essence of blues music and delves into its global influence from its roots in Africa to its inspirational role in today’s music.

Feel Like Going Home: Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull, Gangs of New York) pays homage to the Delta blues. Musician Corey Harris travels to Mississippi and on to West Africa, exploring roots of the music. The film celebrates the early Delta bluesmen through original performances by Willie King, Taj Mahal, Otha Turner, and Ali Farka Toure and rare archival footage of Son House, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. 1×76

The Soul of a Man: Director Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club; Paris, Texas) explores the lives of his favorite blues artists—Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson, and J. B. Lenoir—in part history and part personal pilgrimage. The film tells the story of these artists’ lives in music through a fictional film-within-a-film, rare archival footage, and covers of their songs by contemporary musicians, including Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams, Lou Reed, Eagle Eye Cherry, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Cassandra Wilson and others. 1×104

The Road to Memphis: Director Richard Pearce (The Long Walk Home, Leap of Faith) traces the musical odyssey of blues legend B.B. King in a film that pays tribute to the city that gave birth to a new style of blues. Pearce’s homage to Memphis features original performances by B.B. King, Bobby Rush, Rosco Gordon and Ike Turner, as well as historical footage of Howlin’ Wolf and Rufus Thomas. 1×89

Warming by the Devil’s Fire: Director Charles Burnett (My Brother’s Wedding, To Sleep with Anger) presents a tale about a young boy’s encounter with his family in Mississippi in the 1950s, and intergenerational tensions between the heavenly strains of gospel and the devilish moans of the blues. 1×88

Godfathers and Sons: Director Marc Levin (Slam, Whiteboys, Brooklyn Babylon) travels to Chicago with hip-hop legend Chuck D (of Public Enemy) and Marshall Chess (son of Leonard Chess and heir to Chess Records) to explore the heyday of Chicago blues as they produce an album that brings veteran blues players together with contemporary hip hop musicians. Along with never-before-seen archival footage of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, are original performances by Koko Taylor, Otis Rush, Magic Slim, Ike Turner, and Sam Lay. 1×96

Red, White, & Blues: Director Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas, Time Code) joins musicians such as Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Tom Jones, performing and talking about the music of the early sixties British invasion that reintroduced the blues sound to America. The film examines the circumstances of this vibrant period. Figgis himself participated, albeit in a minor way, in this period of history, playing in a blues band with Bryan Ferry, a band that was the nucleus for the first Roxy Music. 1×93

Piano Blues: Director and piano player Clint Eastwood (Bird, Unforgiven) explores his life-long passion for piano blues, using a treasure trove of rare and historical footage combined with interviews and performances by such living legends as Pinetop Perkins and Jay McShann, as well as Dave Brubeck and Marcia Ball. 1×92