One day in 1986, Adam Gussow, a white, Ivy League-educated harmonica player, found himself nursing a broken heart and walking down the street in Harlem, a block from the Apollo Theater. There, he came upon a one-man blues band: Sterling Magee. Better known as Satan, Magee was a local legend with heavy blues guitar riffs and makeshift percussion instruments. Word around the neighborhood was, he had backed James Brown at the Apollo and cut singles for Ray Charles’s Tangerine label, but no one really knew for sure. When Adam sat in on a session with Satan that day, a most unlikely blues pairing formed. Their partnership would transcend the racial tensions of a segregated city and the anxiety of a neighborhood that was hyper-aware of the perils of gentrification. Satan & Adam
is a celebration of the blues, the transformative power of music, and the friendships that develop when artists collaborate. Director V. Scott Balcerek pulls together two decades of documentary footage, including amazing musical performances, to chart the duo’s rise from the streets of Harlem to bigger and bigger stages and to depict the challenges that come with success.