We're working on a new version of PRX. Want a sneak peek?

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


166 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: A classic slice of vinyl from the Chess catalog, "Drop Down Mama." Issued 1970 as part of the "Chess Vintage Series."
Join us as we continue with another installment of Desert Island Classics, this time around, putting a legendary slice of vinyl, "Drop Down Mama," ...

Bought by WJSU


  • Added: Jan 19, 2015
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Third & Beale: According to some, the epicenter of the Blues Universe.
Join us as we take a look back at some of our favorite moments from 2014. In a year filled with highlights, great blues, and a bunch of good music,...

Bought by WJSU


  • Added: Jan 11, 2015
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Issued 1968, each of the three volumes of "Rural Blues" were compiled by Canned Heat members Bob Hite and Henry Vestine.
Join us for another installment of "Desert Island Classics." This time, we turn the spotlight on three LPs that came out on the Imperial label in 1...

Bought by WJSU


  • Added: Jan 05, 2015
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: A legendary slab of vinyl, "Super Black Blues" was released in 1969 on the short-lived BluesTime label.
Join us as we pay tribute to the BluesTime label — a short-lived subsidiary imprint of Flying Dutchman. Their main claim to fame was a legendary al...

Bought by WJSU


  • Added: Dec 24, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Join us for one of our favorite traditions — the annual Christmas show! We’ll have some old time classics for you, from Leroy Carr, Walter Davis, a...

Bought by WJSU


  • Added: Dec 14, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: First discovered in 1995, the "Jack of Diamonds Georgia Rub" comes from the only surviving copy.
Join us as we aim the spotlight on the rarest 78s of all time. We’ve got some real classics from the 1920s and 30s, that have exactly one thing in ...

Bought by WJSU and KRPS


  • Added: Dec 08, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Another classic from the Bluesville catalog, by Memphis music legend, Furry Lewis.
Join us for another installment of our ongoing series, "The Legends of Bluesville." This time around, we’ll hear from Furry Lewis, Big Joe Williams...

Bought by KRPS and WJSU


  • Added: Nov 16, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: An all-time favorite from J.B. Lenoir. Why it never hit the Billboard charts is anyone’s guess.
Join us as we wrap up our tribute to J.O.B. Records. A legendary imprint run by a man named Joe Brown, J.O.B. recorded some of the finest talent th...

Bought by KRPS and WJSU


  • Added: Nov 10, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: A legendary release on J.O.B. — “Rambling” by Johnny Shines (with the number of the release, 116, handwritten onto the label with an ink pen).
Join us as we aim the spotlight on J.O.B. Records. A legendary imprint run by a man named Joe Brown, J.O.B. recorded some of the finest talent the ...

Bought by KRPS and WJSU


  • Added: Nov 02, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: One of the top sellers from Delmark Records, and a consistent favorite since its release in 1968 is "West Side Soul" by Magic Sam.
Join us for the start of a new series, called "Desert Island Classics." The idea is to showcase blues albums that are so essential, you wouldn't wa...

Bought by KRPS and WJSU


  • Added: Oct 27, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Legendary Memphis guitarist Calvin Newborn, whose older brother was renowned jazz pianist Phineas Newborn.
Join us as we pay tribute to the hot, jazzy guitar of Calvin Newborn. Coming from a renowned musical family, he made his recording debut at the age...

Bought by WJSU and KRPS


  • Added: Oct 17, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: The one and only Lightnin' Slim, whose rallying cry was, "Well, blow your harmonica, son."
On this episode, no particular theme, just two hours of our favorite Down Home Rhythm Rockin' Blues. We’ll hear from Woodrow Adams, Lightnin’ Slim,...

Bought by 90.5 WSNC, WJSU, and KRPS


  • Added: Oct 12, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Issued in 1965, "Ramblin' On My Mind" never quite made it to the digital age. It's one of our favorites from the 1960s Blues Revival.
Join us as we dig through the archives, to bring you some of our favorite vinyl from the 1960s Blues Revival. From Mississippi Fred McDowell and Do...

Bought by WJSU, 90.5 WSNC, and KRPS


  • Added: Oct 04, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 3
Piece image
Join us as we head down to Tipitina's in New Orleans, for a great big helping of live blues and house-rockin' gumbo — served up piping hot by the g...

Bought by WJSU, 90.5 WSNC, and KRPS


  • Added: Sep 16, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Frankie Lee Sims, making his recording debut on Texas' very own Blue Bonnet label, in 1948.
We take a look at some killer down home blues from the great state of Texas — all of it from small, independent record labels in operation during t...

Bought by KRPS, WJSU, and 90.5 WSNC


  • Added: Sep 07, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: From 1927, "The Midnight Special" by Crying Sam Collins; the first known version of this enduring favorite to be recorded by a blues artist.
Join us as we explore blues songs that all have to deal with the subject of midnight. Sometimes, you get midnight showers of rain, other times, it'...

Bought by KBBI, 90.5 WSNC, WJSU, and KRPS


  • Added: Aug 31, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 4
Caption: Issued 1959, "The Country Blues" was a groundbreaking work by Sam Charters. The next year, Paul Oliver followed with "Blues Fell This Morning."
If you're curious about where the Blues Revival of the 1960s got its start, you might want to take a look at "The Country Blues," from 1959, "Blues...

Bought by 90.5 WSNC, WJSU, and KRPS


  • Added: Aug 25, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Another standout from the Bluesville catalog, "Trouble An' Blues," by Sidney Maiden.
Join us as we continue our look at the legends of Bluesville, this time from the West Coast. That includes music from piano man Mercy Dee Walton, h...

Bought by WJSU, 90.5 WSNC, and KRPS


  • Added: Aug 17, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: We're number one! Pictured: Bill Doggett, whose game-changing "Honky Tonk" spent 13 weeks at the very top of the Billboard charts.
Join us for an all-instrumental extravaganza, as we put the spotlight on King and Federal Records. While other labels certainly recorded instrument...

Bought by WJSU, 90.5 WSNC, and KRPS


  • Added: Aug 10, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Two legendary Hill Country musicians, Sid Hemphill and Lucius Smith. Illustration by Archer Pruitt.
Join us as we follow Alan Lomax through the Hill Country of Mississippi, in September 1959. We’ll hear some exciting fife and drum band music, old ...

Bought by WJSU, 90.5 WSNC, and KRPS


  • Added: Aug 03, 2014
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 3