The big moment is finally here. More than a year in the making, Legends’ collaboration with WYCC PBS Chicago, “Buddy Guy’s Legends Presents The Chicago Blues,” begins airing Friday, October 3rd at 9pm. Each episode is an hour long and mixes live concert footage recorded at Buddy Guy’s with interviews and photos, taking us into the history of the blues but also focusing on what keeps this vibrant tradition alive. If you’re in Chicago, Wisconsin, Indiana or St.Louis, tune in and watch! If you’re anywhere else, call your local PBS station and tell them you want to see this series (it will be going into national syndication in the spring).
Here’s a complete list of the episodes.
EPISODE 1: EDDIE SHAW
Friday October 3, 9pm
In 1957, Shaw sat in with the Muddy Waters band in Itta Bena, Mississippi. Waters hired him on the spot and Eddie arrived in Chicago as a member of the top band in town. The Chicago bands of Waters and Howlin’ Wolf were built around amplified country blues, and Shaw found that he had to play differently in Chicago from the way he had in Mississippi. He was usually the only horn player in the band and no longer had section arrangements or short, set parts to play, but he adapted to the new demands as a soloist.
EPISODE 2: ERIC “GUITAR” DAVIS
Friday October 10th, 9pm
Eric “Guitar” Davis was one of the rising stars of the Chicago blues scene. From the day Buddy Guy showed him his first chord, Eric worked hard, relentlessly pursuing his passion. After decades of effort he was truly coming into his own: he had just been signed to Delmark Records, he was touring internationally and he was putting on great shows with one of the tightest bands in town. Less than three weeks after recording this WYCC special, Eric was tragically murdered on Chicago’s south side while returning home after a late night blues jam, the victim of a senseless act of random gun violence. This episode, which captures one of his final concerts, is a tribute to the talent and vitality he possessed as well as the enormous potential that was so terribly cut short.
EPISODE 3: JOANNA CONNOR
Friday October 17th, 9pm
Joanna Connor is a complete electric guitar package and vocalist extraordinaire. She covers the range of modern blues, slide guitar and blues rock with her own compositions very much influenced by funk, rock, jazz and world music as well as delta blues. Her sense of melody, phrasing and dynamics along with a very modern technique make her a very funky, soulful and compelling guitarist. As for vocal abilities, if Joanna wasn’t a guitarist, she could easily be a lead singer in any band.
EPISODE 4: COREY DENNISON
Friday October 24th, 9pm
Corey found his musical calling while hanging out with his harp playing uncle. “My uncle snuck me into clubs where I saw some of the greatest Blues cats of all-time, Albert King, Albert Collins and Junior Wells. This is where it became clear to me; I wanted to be a Blues Man.” He spent 12 years honing his skills as a sideman for Carl Weathersby, a mentor beyond the music: “Pop has really showed me the real me and have helped me in a lot of ways. Showed me what to do what not to do. I wouldn’t know anything if it was not for Carl and my brothers-in-arms.” Playing with Weathersby blessed Corey with opportunities to share the stage with such musical greats as The Kinsey Report, Rob Blaine, Chico Banks,The Steepwater Band, Jimmy Johnson, Robert Randolph, Derek Trucks And John Mayer, Gerry Hundt, Nick Moss, Lurrie Bell, Carlos Johnson and the Buddha of Bass, Mr. Bill Dickens, and Buddy Guy.
EPISODE 5: LINSEY ALEXANDER
Friday October 31st, 9pm
In much the same way as many great blues artists before him, he grew up in a poor but honest and hard working family, learning early on that music has the power to lift the spirit and comfort the soul. In Linsey’s own words, “Blues music is not hard- it’s just a documentary about life.” His first guitar – a gift from a family friend who played on the front stoop of Linsey’s home in Memphis – was never retrieved from the pawn shop where he left it almost 50 years ago. Using the money to help pay his way to Chicago, he now plays a variety of Gibson and Fender guitars. Since 1959, Linsey Alexander has been perfecting the art of entertainment blues for the sheer and simple pleasure of it.
EPISODE 6: NELLIE “TIGER” TRAVIS
Friday November 7th, 9pm
Nellie “Tiger” Travis couldn’t be more destined to sing the blues. She was born deep in the delta of Mississippi in the early 60′s. As in most small towns, the church was a main focal point and Nellie grew up singing gospel music. Today, Nellie has one of the tightest Chicago Blues bands found anywhere in the world comprised of the best musicians from Chicago’s Blues scene.
EPISODE 7: CHICAGO BLUES ALL-STARS
Friday November 14th, 9pm
Chicago Blues All-Stars are a musical revue that features some of the most talented, entertaining and legendary artists on the scene today. Together they have created a singular sound that is uniquely eclectic, while drawing on all styles of Americana for inspiration. “Killer” Ray Allison and Chicago Slim, whose musical stylings reflect their lifelong commitment as blues disciples, lead CBAS.
EPISODE 8: JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR
Friday November 21st, 9pm
Born and raised in the Black Country, Joanne was originally discovered by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart as a 16 year old guitar prodigy. Through hard work and near-constant touring, she is now one of the hottest young names on the British Blues circuit. She is admired and respected by many leading blues guitarists including Joe Bonamassa. Joanne was voted “Best British Female Vocalist” at the British Blues Awards in 2010 and 2011.
EPISODE 9: MIKE WHEELER
Friday December 5th, 9pm
Mike Wheeler has been playing the blues since the mid 80’s. He did his first blues gig with Muddy Waters sideman Lovey Lee in 1984. He met and began performing with Nellie Tiger Travis in 1994. In 1998 he joined Big James & The Chicago Playboys. He has played on five CDs with Big James, including his latest, “The Big Payback: Live In Paris,” on Blind Pig Records. Mike has performed with Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Shemekia Copeland, Jimmy Johnson, Son Seals, Willie Kent and a who’s who of today’s Chicago Blues.
EPISODE 10: QUINN SULLIVAN
Friday December 12th, 9pm
Since the age of 7 , Quinn has been sharing stages with legendary players like Eric Clapton, BB King and Buddy Guy at iconic venues like the Hollywood Bowl, Madison Square Garden, and Red Rocks. He has also performed at some of the world’s most prestigious festivals including Montreux Jazz, Austin City Limits, and Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival.
EPISODE 11: THE NUBLU BAND, FEATURING CARLISE GUY
Friday December 19th, 9pm
This high energy group pairs a tight rhythm section with the powerful vocals of Carlise Guy, the dynamic daughter of Buddy Guy. Their soulful sound is enough to make any audience get up and dance, because it’s always a party when NuBlu is on stage. They’ve performed around the country at festivals, casinos as well as regularly opening for Buddy Guy himself.
EPISODE 12: BUDDY GUY
Friday December 26th, 9pm
He’s a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a major influence on rock titans like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, a pioneer of Chicago’s fabled West Side sound, and a living link to the city’s halcyon days of electric blues. He has received 6 Grammy Awards, 32 Blues Music Awards (the most any artist has received), the Billboard magazine Century Award for distinguished artistic achievement, and the Presidential National Medal of Arts. Rolling Stone ranked him in the top 25 of its “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”