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Buddy Guy's blues legacy burns bright in "The Torch"

Buddy Guy performs at the Rialto Square Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, in Joliet, Ill.
Rob Grabowski/AP
Buddy Guy performs at the Rialto Square Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, in Joliet, Ill.

Blues legend Buddy Guy passes on the stories and lessons he learned from the Chicago Blues masters to young guitar wizard Quinn Sullivan in director Jim Farrell's "The Torch."

85 year-old guitarist Buddy Guy is deadly serious about the future of blues music.

It's his life's mission to pass along the songs and stories that came to him from the blues originators, through the Chicago-based blues artists who inspired young British musicians to use the blues to create rock ’n’ roll.

Director, producer and occasional cameraman Jim Farrell is equally dedicated to telling Buddy Guy's story through his film "The Torch," (a reference to "passing the torch,"). The documentary is a celebration of Guy's life, his career, and his meticulous mentoring of the next generation of artists.

The backgrounds of Buddy Guy and his student Quinn Sullivan are worlds apart.

A poor sharecropper's son from Lettsworth, Louisiana, Guy grew up playing with wire, strings and rubber bands as his instruments, until a passing stranger bought him his first guitar.

Sullivan grew up in Massachusetts with middle-class music-loving parents who gave him his first guitar when he was three.

Sullivan was all of seven years old when he went on stage with Buddy Guy for the first time. In "The Torch," they are touring together ten years later, and the audience gets a glimpse of Sullivan finding his own style and voice.

The Torch - Official Trailer | HD | IFC Films

"The Torch" includes commentary and cautionary tales from former Blues guitar wunderkinds like Joe Bonamassa, Derek Trucks, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram and Jonny Lang; along with stories and praise from Susan Tedeschi and Carlos Santana.

Of course, the highlights of "The Torch" are Guy's music and his own stories, told in his own inimitable style.

"The Torch" is a beautifully constructed film and a touching tribute to a true blues master.

See "The Torch" on Tuesday April 5 at Tacoma's Grand Cinema, co-presented by Blues Vespers and the South Sound Blues Association. After the 7:15 p.m. showing, there will be a discussion of the film led by Rev. Dave Brown of Blues Vespers.

Buddy Guy plays the Moore Theater in Seattle on April 22. As of this writing, only ten tickets are available, but tickets for the previously scheduled September 30, 2020 and March 27, 2021 Buddy Guy shows will be honored for entry.

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.