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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


201 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
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
Caption: Illustration of Son House by R. Crumb; Lightnin’ Hopkins by William Stout.
On this special edition of Blues Unlimited, join us as two legendary musicians, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Son House, tell us about their lives in story...

  • Added: Feb 21, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Recorded in May 1952, “Juke” became a huge number one hit for Little Walter, when it climbed to the top of the R&B charts later that year.
Join us as we put the Checker label in the spotlight. Started by Phil and Leonard Chess as a subsidiary imprint in 1952, Checker issued some specta...

  • Added: Feb 04, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
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 2016. In a year filled with highlights, great blues, and a bunch of good music,...

  • Added: Jan 14, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Blue Horizon often featured striking and distinctive album covers, such as this one for Bukka White’s “Memphis Hot Shots” LP.
Join us as we dig into some of the great recordings made by Mike Vernon's Blue Horizon label during the 1960s. This time we’ll be focusing on some ...

  • Added: Jan 02, 2017
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: One of the rare 78s from the collection of John Tefteller. Courtesy of Blues Images.
Join us as we explore some of the rarest of the rare — John Tefteller's legendary collection of Paramount 78s. One of the most important blues labe...

  • Added: Nov 28, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: One of the Maxwell Street regulars, Blind Arvella Gray. Photo by Vivian Maier, 1967.
If you like your blues raw and gritty, then join us as we head down to Maxwell Street. That’s where filmmaker Mike Shea went with his cameras in 19...

  • Added: Oct 04, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: One of the high-water marks of Chicago Blues, “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” by Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and Baby Face Leroy.
Join us as we dig through the remains of the Parkway label, a Chicago independent who was only in business for a short time during the first few mo...

  • Added: Sep 20, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Featured on this program, the Rev. Robert Wilkins and his epic masterpiece, “The Prodigal Son.” Illustration by William Stout.
Join us for our annual gospel show! Guest host Brother Hawkins will lead us on a journey down to Memphis and the Hill Country, to hear music from M...

  • Added: Sep 02, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Photographer Unknown
Join us as we take a trip down to the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola — once called the worst prison in America. John and Alan Loma...

Bought by KPIP-LP


  • Added: Aug 06, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: The cover for "The Story of the Blues," as issued in the U.S. by Columbia Records.
On this episode, we pay homage to Paul Oliver’s legendary double LP set, "The Story of the Blues." Published as a companion piece to his critically...

  • Added: Jul 21, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: One of the most beloved duos of the blues — Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, whose 1928 recording, “How Long, How Long Blues,” was one of the biggest sellers of the era. Image by R. Crumb.
Join us for the start of a new series, dedicated to the great song writers of the blues. Our first installment pays tribute to Leroy Carr, who wrot...

  • Added: Jun 23, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Memphis’ very own merry band of pranksters, Mud Boy & the Neutrons. Left to Right: Lee Baker, Jimmy Crosthwait, Jim Dickinson, Sid Selvidge. Photo courtesy of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.
Join us as we start a new series, "The Keepers of the Flame." Designed to spotlight individuals who've made extraordinary contributions to the worl...

  • Added: May 19, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: A popular selection from the Takoma catalog, “Mississippi Blues” by Bukka White was issued and reissued several times over the decades, seen here with the cover from its second vinyl pressing.
Join us as we spotlight three classic slabs of vinyl from the golden years of the 1960s Blues Revival. We’ll hear selections from "Mississippi Blue...

  • Added: May 01, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: A real rarity today, the very first LP issued by Excello was "Rooster Blues" by Lightnin' Slim.
Join us as we venture down to Louisiana, for some five-star slabs of vinyl! We’ll hear selections from "Rooster Blues" by Lightnin’ Slim, "Raining ...

  • Added: Mar 24, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: Ramsey Prison Farm in Texas, 1964. Photo by Bruce Jackson
On this moving and unforgettable episode of Blues Unlimited, we’re going on a journey back in time — to hear the haunting, timeless worksongs of me...

  • Added: Mar 10, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
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Join us as we take a look at Big Bear Records — one of England's oldest independent labels — and the 1973 and '74 American Blues Legends tours. We’...

  • Added: Jan 27, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
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 2015. In a year filled with highlights, great blues, and a bunch of good music,...

  • Added: Jan 16, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59
Caption: One of the most beloved performers in the blues, Mississippi John Hurt made his recording debut for the OKeh label in Memphis, on Valentines Day, 1928. Image by R. Crumb.
Join us as we continue our in-depth look at the blues in Memphis, from early 1928. This time, we’ll take a look at the recordings made by the OKeh ...

  • Added: Jan 07, 2016
  • Length: 01:58:59