Welcome to Blues Unlimited Radio!

Join us as we celebrate and explore the wonderful world of the blues, and its history, heritage, and rich cultural traditions. Blues Unlimited is the premier destination for fans, lovers, aficionados, authors, musicians, researchers, radio programmers, and scholars — as well as those who simply appreciate and want to know a little bit more about one of the great American musical art forms. Now in its ninth year of production, Blues Unlimited presents the “real” blues, from the men and women who lived that life and made that music. Nothing is ever watered down on Blues Unlimited.

Tightly focused themes are the Blues Unlimited “stock-in-trade,” with beautifully crafted profiles of renowned musicians, beloved songwriters, vintage record labels, harmonica blowers from Memphis, piano players from Chicago, guitar pickers from Texas, country blues heroes of the 1920s and ’30s, in-depth city-by-city surveys, classic, rare, and out-of-print vinyl, and legendary field recordings of the 1930s through the 1970s.

Connect with something vital, vibrant, and authentic, each and every week, on Blues Unlimited.

Every Tuesday, we’ll post this week’s featured episode, and just in case you missed it, scroll down a bit further to catch last week’s show, and one of our favorite installments from our new series, “This Week in Blues History.”

As always, thanks for listening!

—Sleepy Boy Hawkins


This Week on Blues Unlimited (June 18-24)

R. Crumb’s “Heroes of the Blues” (Part 2)

In 1980, the good folks at Yazoo Records issued a box set of 36 trading cards called “The Heroes of the Blues,” with drawings by legendary illustrator and cartoonist R. Crumb, and text by noted researcher and author Stephen Calt. They’ve long been favorites with Blues fans, and on this program (the second of three) we continue our exploration of “The Heroes of the Blues.” Among the featured artists on this program are Furry Lewis, Big Bill Broonzy, The Rev. Gary Davis, Cannon’s Jug Stompers, the Memphis Jug Band, Skip James, and many more.

Pictured: One of the “Heroes of the Blues” featured on this episode. Illustration by R. Crumb.

Hour 1

Hour 2


Last Week’s Featured Episode (June 11-17)

R. Crumb’s “Heroes of the Blues” (Part 1)

In 1980, the good folks at Yazoo Records issued a box set of 36 trading cards called “The Heroes of the Blues,” with drawings by legendary illustrator and cartoonist R. Crumb, and text by noted researcher and author Stephen Calt. They’ve long been favorites with Blues fans, and on this program — the first of three — we dive head first into “The Heroes of the Blues.”

Pictured: One of the “Heroes of the Blues” featured on this episode. Illustration by R. Crumb.

Hour 1

Hour 2


One Last Chance (Featured Episode for June 4-10)

Smash Hits of the Late 1940s

Join us as we count our way down through the biggest #1 R&B hits of the late 1940s. It was a period dominated by Blues shouters, wailing saxes, and piano-playing balladeers — and Louis Jordan was king of the charts. But times were changing, with independent record producers making inroads into previously uncharted waters. With our top secret formula, we’ve made a list of the 34 biggest chart-busters of the late 1940s, and we’re counting down to number one!

Pictured: At 32 weeks on the charts, “The Hucklebuck,” by Paul Williams, was one of the biggest hits of the decade.

 


 

And… Don’t Miss “This Week in Blues History”

2018 was a big year for us! We started — and finished — a brand new series of 52 audio essays, called “This Week in Blues History.” Here’s one of our favorites, from the week of July 22nd. It involves a legendary blues performer from Bentonia, Mississippi, who made an historic appearance at the Newport Folk Festival, in 1964. It had been 33 years since he last recorded, and no one knew quite what to expect….

 


 

Keep going, there’s more ↓

About

Blues Unlimited is an NPR-style two-hour weekly radio show that explores the wonderful world of the blues, and its history, heritage, and rich cultural traditions. It has repeatedly been called the best radio show of its kind currently on offer in the United States market. Named in honor of the groundbreaking periodical, first published in England in 1963 by Mike Leadbitter and Simon Napier, Blues Unlimited has an established, 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, theme, or aspect of the blues.

Blues Unlimited is available for broadcast worldwide, at a price that is surprisingly affordable. Radio stations that air Blues Unlimited tell us that it quickly gains traction with their listeners, and that they see their numbers go up when the program is airing. For more info, contact us at: bluesunlimited @ gmail dot com (or, you can use the handy online form, posted near the bottom of this main page).


Steve Franz graduated from the University of Memphis with a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology. He is the author of The Amazing Secret History of Elmore James, which was translated into Japanese in 2006, and selected as one of the 100 Books Every Blues Fan Should Own.

Our distinctive “Third and Beale Street” logo comes from a rare poster for the 1977 Beale Street Music Festival. Artist/designer unknown.


Praise for Blues Unlimited

“Highly recommended for anyone who would like to hear the best blues program under the sun. Great music presented beautifully by the most highly knowledgeable blues historian I am aware of….”
—George Mitchell, folklorist and author of “Blow My Blues Away”

“We were blown away by all the work you put into this.”
—Bob Koester, founder of the legendary Delmark record label
(commenting on the episode, “25 from Bob Koester”)

“Blues Unlimited is a real treasure! I really enjoy all of the programming, and always come away from an episode informed and inspired.”
—Randy Glines, avid listener

“I am still in awe of your program. Recently, while waiting for you to post a new one, I went surfing other blues podcasts and you really have no one in your league.”
—T.L., long-time blues fanatic & devoted listener

“I had no idea how much labor went into one of your shows!”
—Paul Garon, renowned author & blues scholar

“I listened to your show tonight, with the lights out and a margarita in my hand. Wonderful! Each song just seemed to flow from one to the next. And where in the world did you ever find such clear, undamaged recordings?”
—K.M. (a listener)

“I think you are doing an unbelievable job in presenting and preserving a body of work proportionately in size and detail that would rival the audio section of the Library of Alexandria. As a blues lover coming across the Elmore James mini-series and then discovering This Week in Blues History, well, thank you for your devotion and dedication. Bravo!”
—J.T. (a listener)

Keep going, there’s more ↓

Blog

This Week in Blues History for June 17th

We’re pleased to say that all three volumes of Blues Unlimited: The Complete Radio Show Transcripts have now been published as eBooks! They’re available from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and also available in the Kindle Store from Amazon. (and please keep in mind that every dollar from every purchase will help keep an independent voice in blues radio alive and well! …

This Week in Blues History for June 10th

We’re pleased to say that all three volumes of Blues Unlimited: The Complete Radio Show Transcripts have now been published as eBooks! They’re available from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and also available in the Kindle Store from Amazon. (and please keep in mind that every dollar from every purchase will help keep an independent voice in blues radio alive and well! …

Join us at the “Mojo Rhythm & Blues Festival” on Bainbridge Island – July 11-14th

We have some exciting news here at Blues Unlimited Radio! Join your pal and mine, Sleepy Boy Hawkins — in the flesh! — for the first ever Bainbridge Island Museum of Art  Mojo Rhythm & Blues Festival. The fun begins on Thursday, July 11th, with live music from Tiffany Wilson & Friends, and continues on …

Give Us A Holler!

If you have a topic you’d like us to tackle, want to make a comment on one of our previous shows, or you just want to say hello, we’d love to hear from you! Just use this handy form!

By checking this box, I promise I'm not a part of the Zombie Apocalypse!

Keep going, there’s more ↓

Stay Tuned!

In the upcoming weeks and months, we’ll have some exciting stuff for you! We can’t tell you too much right now, but…. there might possibly be excerpts from a brand new book we’re working on! More details to come….

 

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