Blues Unlimited

Series produced by Steve Franz

Series image

Join us as we explore the wonderful world of the Blues, and its history, heritage, and rich cultural traditions.

Blues Unlimited is an NPR-style two-hour weekly show that has been called the "best blues radio show in the United States," and has an established and loyal audience of listeners from around the globe. Hosted by "Sleepy Boy Hawkins" (the alter-ego of scholar, author, fanatic, and historian Steve Franz), each installment is a self-contained evergreen show, delving into a different genre, topic, or aspect of the blues. For more details on the program, see our full profile, or email us at bluesunlimited@gmail.com


217 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: This classic slice of vinyl, featuring the photographic work of Ray Flerlage, is considered a real standout of Homesick’s career.
Join us as we wrap up our ongoing series devoted to Bluesville Records. This time we’re in the Windy City of Chicago, as we enjoy vintage classics ...

  • Added: Sep 23, 2018
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Hand-painted photo of Elmore James courtesy of Blues Unlimited magazine. Inset: Some LP fan favorites.
Join us as we wrap up our tribute to the late, great Elmore James — legend of the slide of the guitar. From his early days in Mississippi to his la...

  • Added: Jul 09, 2018
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Hand-painted photo of Elmore James courtesy of Blues Unlimited magazine.
Join us for part three of our look at slide guitar legend, Elmore James. This time, we’ll focus on the remaining singles from his career — for such...

  • Added: Jun 16, 2018
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Hand-painted photo of Elmore James courtesy of Blues Unlimited magazine.
Join us for part two of our look at slide guitar legend, Elmore James. This time, we’re in Chicago with the Broomdusters, as he lays down some clas...

  • Added: May 29, 2018
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Photo (bottom right): Nick Perls, Dick Waterman, Son House, Phil Spiro. Collection of Dick Waterman.
Join us for another installment of our ongoing series, "The Keepers of the Flame," where we aim the spotlight on those individuals who've made extr...

  • Added: Feb 19, 2018
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Our distinctive logo comes from a rare poster for the 1977 Beale Street Music Festival. Collection of the producer.
Join us as we take a look back at some of our favorite moments from 2017. In a year filled with highlights, great blues, and a bunch of good music,...

  • Added: Jan 11, 2018
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: The man at the controls, Sam Phillips; Inset: some of the releases he produced for the Chess brothers.
Join us as we continue our exploration of the blues recordings made by Sam Phillips. This time around, we’ll dig into the 78 masters he cut for the...

  • Added: Jan 25, 2018
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: The man at the controls, Sam Phillips; Inset: some early releases produced by Phillips.
Join us as we begin a new series, exploring the blues recordings made by Sam Phillips at his legendary Memphis studio. In part one, we’ll take a lo...

  • Added: Dec 27, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Hand-painted photo of Elmore James courtesy of Blues Unlimited magazine. Inset: Some of Elmore's first singles.
Join us as we start a new, ongoing mini-series dedicated to the life and musical career of one of the most beloved figures in blues history — slide...

  • Added: Nov 14, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Pictured: The hands of St. Louis guitarist Bennie Smith. Photo by Bill Greensmith. Inset: A St. Louis classic from Guitar Tommy Moore.
Join us as we journey to St. Louis, and celebrate some of the talented musicians that called the River City their home. We'll hear modern classics ...

  • Added: Oct 13, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Pictured (from left to right): Jacob Stuckey, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, and Tommy Lee West, in front of Bentonia’s legendary Blue Front Cafe. Photo courtesy of Jimmy “Duck” Holmes. Inset: One of the recordings Skip James made for Paramount in 1931.
Join us as we aim the spotlight on the Bentonia, Mississippi blues tradition, and the handful of practitioners — such as Skip James, Jack Owens, an...

  • Added: Sep 15, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Pictured: Robert Petway, whose “Catfish Blues” has become a beloved Mississippi Delta classic. Illustration by William Stout.
Join us as we explore the rich and fascinating history of animal symbolism in the blues. Ever since the very first recordings, from the 1920s, blue...

  • Added: Aug 25, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Photo of Bob Koester by William Ellis, from the "One LP Project."
Join us for an extra special treat! We asked Bob Koester, founder of the legendary Delmark Records, for a list of his favorite performances. All we...

  • Added: Aug 09, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Photo by Jan Persson. Taken during the 1968 American Folk Blues Festival Tour, probably in Copenhagen. Inset: Jimmy Reed’s very first R&B hit for Vee-Jay.
Join us for another installment of our "Great Songwriters" series, as we aim the spotlight on Jimmy Reed. Enjoying more R&B hits than any of his co...

  • Added: Jul 24, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Any program featuring gut bucket blues would be woefully inadequate without representation from Louisiana Swamp Blues master, Lightnin’ Slim. Illustration by William Stout.
Join us for two hours of our favorite gut bucket blues! We’ll hear low down classics from Lightnin’ Hopkins, Joe Hill Louis, L.C. Green, Elmore Jam...

  • Added: Jul 04, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
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Join us as we dig into a collection of blues songs all dealing with the topic of war. Featuring commentary, insight, and criticism on Vietnam, Kore...

  • Added: Jun 01, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Brownsville mandolin man, James "Yank" Rachell (in his later years).
Join us for part two of our look at the blues traditions in Brownsville, Tennessee. This time, we’ll focus primarily on the Decca label, and hear s...

  • Added: May 14, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Image by R. Crumb.
Join us as we get into our time machine, and go back to the 1920s and ’30s, to examine the blues traditions in Brownsville, Tennessee. At the epice...

  • Added: Apr 29, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: During the 1940s, Louis Jordan was king of the charts, racking up an unbroken string of almost 40 top ten R&B hits between 1942 and 1948.
Join us for another installment of “hits that missed,” as we count our way down through some of the biggest recordings of the 1940s. We’ll hear mus...

  • Added: Apr 01, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Illustration of Smiley Lewis by William Stout. His recording of “I Hear You Knocking” was one of the biggest number two hits of the early 1950s.
On this episode of Blues Unlimited, join us as we pay tribute to a remarkable collection of records that all have one thing in common — they were a...

  • Added: Mar 09, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59