Satan & Adam

Local Spotlight


NYC 1986. Adam, a lanky young blond-haired guy walks down 125th Street exploring Harlem and sees a grizzled street musician, a one-man band who sings and plays the guitar and percussion with his feet at the same time. He calls himself Mr. Satan and he plays a mean blues. Unexpectedly, the white Jewish kid pulls out a harmonica and asks Satan to jam, and a musical partnership in perfect sync is born. The street musician is Sterling Magee, who is rumored to have played with James Brown, Ray Charles, King Curtis, Etta James and other blues luminaries. Adam believes, despite his Ivy League education, that it was his mission in life to do this.

The odd couple are soon killing it at music festivals and other gigs. They cut a record. One of Satan’s tunes ends up on a U2 album. Then, suddenly, Satan drops out of sight. Two years later, the filmmakers find him in St. Petersburg, Florida. The old man had a stroke and can’t play the guitar anymore. But the connection is still strong, and Satan and Adam attempt to reconstitute the act. This documentary, a big attention-getter at the Tribeca Film Festival, captures a fascinating journey of friendship, heartbreak and the transformative power of the blues. —Miguel Pendás

Director V. Scott Balcerek in person
Subject Adam Gussow in person in San Francisco and East Bay

V. Scott Balcerek is a filmmaker and musician who has worked as an editor on dozens of projects, including the short documentary Street Songs, which received a Student Academy Award®, and the acclaimed LeBron James documentary More Than a Game.

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Cargo Film & Releasing, Cailin McFadden: