The Torch, a new documentary on blues figurehead Buddy Guy directed by Jim Farrell, received its world premiere as the closing gala screening at the 55th Chicago International Film Festival last night (27). Sunday was declared Buddy Guy Day in Chicago in honour of the event.
The film illustrates the inspiration that Guy received from such giants as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, and his own dedication to mentoring the next generation of blues artists. In particular, it details his mentoring of Bedford, Massachusetts-born guitar phenomenon Quinn Sullivan, now 20, in whose talent he has taken an active interest since Sullivan was young.
The Torch uses performance footage, archive photos and personal anecdotes to place his contribution to American musical and cultural history. The artist himself was present at the screening, along with Farrell and producer Amy Briamonte. Guy, now 83, is currently on his The Blues Is Alive And Well Tour of North America and played at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas in September. Guy is also appearance as part of the autumn run of shows in the Experience Hendrix tour, alongside such players as Joe Satriani, Jonny Lang, Billy Cox and Dweezil Zappa.
Mimi Plauché, artistic director of the Chicago International Film Festival, said: “Buddy Guy is a timeless Chicago icon, and we are honoured to close the 55th Chicago International Film Festival with this celebration of his talent and his commitment to the enduring legacy of blues as an essential American art form.”
It’s well over 70 years since Guy, once described by Clapton as “the best guitar player alive,” began playing guitar, and 62 since he moved to Chicago to further his career. He first recorded for Cobra Records in the late 1950s before beginning his association with Chess, where he made his name nationally and internationally before many further decades of stellar work.