He was on drums when Bob Dylan went electric at Newport… He was in the studio and on the road with blues greats Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter and James Cotton... He was a founding member of the groundbreaking Paul Butterfield Blues Band… He is, at the age of 79, still an active part of the Chicago blues scene and the man some call “the greatest drummer of all time.” He finally steps into the spotlight in…
SAM LAY IN BLUESLAND
Recognized almost as much for his sartorial style as for his signature double-shuffle beat — his capes, crowns, canes and cowbells are the stuff of legend— Sam Lay has played a key role in the evolution of the blues for almost 60 years. Against a backdrop of the troubled, racially turbulent 1960s, Lay’s singular life and career is told through his own words, music and personal films in the new documentary
SAM LAY IN BLUESLAND
After being hooked by Little Walter’s song “Juke” while still a boy in Birmingham, Alabama, Sam moved to Cleveland in 1954, at the age of 19, where he taught himself the drums and joined a jazz combo. Six years later, he found himself in Chicago, living and performing with his idol Little Walter. Soon he became a mainstay of the Chicago blues scene and a favorite at Chess Records, where he played on nearly 40 seminal recordings. Sam’s career blossomed when Howlin’ Wolf took him under his wing; years later, when a teenage drummer from Detroit showed up on Sam’s doorstep, he paid it forward by helping out the young Iggy Pop.
Sam left Howlin’ Wolf to form The Paul Butterfield Blues Band — an interracial blues band — which ignited the blues/rock explosion of the mid-sixties and shattered blues attendance records and album sales marks. He overcame the prejudices of the era with a shrewd combination of a disarming sense of humor and an ever-present handgun.
When Bob Dylan needed a drummer for his infamous “going electric” performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, he turned to Sam. The following month, Dylan brought Sam to New York to play on his new album, Highway 61 Revisited. That pennywhistle…? It’s Sam’s.
A free spirit whose musical innovation, unmistakable groove and explosive power helped create the blueprint for Chicago blues, Sam Lay well-deserves his place in the Blues, Jazz and Rock Halls of Fame. He continues to write, record and perform.
Featuring new performances by The Sam Lay Blues Band, The Siegel-Schwall Blues Band and Sam Lay & Corky Siegel, with appearances by James Cotton, Iggy Pop, Elvin Bishop, Corky Siegel, Charlie Musselwhite, Nick Gravenites, Barry Goldberg, Jim Keltner, Marcy Levy, Gary Mallaber and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Includes never-before-seen 8mm footage from Sam Lay's personal 1960s blues archive.