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Scorsese & PBS’s Blues

Under the guiding hand and large eyebrows of Martin Scorsese (pictured), seven directors will explore The Blues this fall on PBS. The seven films explore how the blues evolved from parochial folk tunes to a universal language, and they are each helmed by a well-known director: Scorsese, Wim Wenders, Richard Pearce, Charles Burnett, Marc Levin, Mike Figgs and Clint Eastwood. The series premieres on Sunday, September 28, but as they as say, check your local listings. Here’s the lineup, with descriptions, lifted wholesale from PBS and reformatted so that you don’t get the blues trying to figure out what you want to watch:

Feel Like Going Home by Martin Scorsese * Sunday, September 28

Director Martin Scorsese (The Last Waltz, Raging Bull, Gangs of New York) pays homage to the Delta blues. Musician Corey Harris travels through Mississippi and on to West Africa, exploring the roots of the music. The film celebrates the early Delta bluesmen through original performances (including Willie King, Taj Mahal, Otha Turner and Ali Farka Touré) and rare archival footage (featuring Son House, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker).

The Soul of a Man by Wim Wenders * Monday, September 29

Director Wim Wenders (Buena Vista Social Club; Wings of Desire; Paris, Texas) explores the lives of his favorite blues artists-Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson and J. B. Lenoir-in a film that is part history and part personal pilgrimage. The film tells the story of these 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, Garland Jeffreys, Los Lobos and others.

The Road to Memphis by Richard Pearce * Tuesday, September 30

Director Richard Pearce (The Long Walk Home, Leap of Faith, A Family Thing) 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 Fats Domino.

Warming by the Devil’s Fire by Charles Burnett * Wednesday, October 1

Director Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, My Brother’s Wedding, To Sleep With Anger) presents a tale about a young boy’s encounter with his family in Mississippi in 1955, and intergenerational tensions between the heavenly strains of gospel and the devilish moans of the blues.

Godfathers and Sons by Marc Levin * Thursday, October 2

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 the Chess Records legacy) to explore the heyday of Chicago blues as they unite to produce an album that seeks to bring 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.

Red, White and Blues by Mike Figgis * Friday, October 3

Director Mike Figgis (Stormy Monday, Leaving Las Vegas, Timecode) joins musicians such as Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Tom Jones performing and talking about the music of the early ’60s British invasion that reintroduced the blues sound to America.

Piano Blues by Clint Eastwood * Saturday, October 4

Director and piano player Clint Eastwood (Play Misty for Me, Bird, Unforgiven) explores his lifelong passion for the piano blues, using a treasure trove of rare historical acts as well as interviews and performances by such living legends as Pinetop Perkins and Jay McShann as well as Dave Brubeck and Marcia Ball.

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Originally Published