A Journey Through the Blues: The Son Seals Story celebrates the semi-acclaimed, wholly distinctive singer-songwriter and ax-man the way he lived: straight-ahead and raw.
Seals died in 2001 from complications related to diabetes. He was 62. Growing up in back of the dangerous Dipsy Doodle juke joint owned by his father in Osceola, Ark., Seals was immersed in the blues before he could walk, hanging out with the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk, Earl Hooker, and Albert King. The blues, he said, “just grew up” in him. In 1971 at the age of 18, he moved to Chicago’s legendary South Side, where he fronted his own band and spent most of his career. The DVD offers live concert footage from Rooster Blues and House of Blues in Chicago and the Chicago Blues Fest, including performances of “Hot Sauce,” “Funky Bitch,” and “Bad Axe.” There are also interviews with Seals and his family, friends, and business associates, plus the tale — not confirmed, denied, or explained — that he played his first game of cards while standing on a dead body because he was too short, as a child, to reach the table.
From the early historical photos to the performances, Seals comes across as someone who lived for the music and willingly tolerated the hardships that came with it, such as the bullet that remained in his brain after an ex-wife shot him, the diabetes that took his left leg, and the realities of helping raise 14 children. A Journey Through the Blues: The Son Seals Story preserves a slice of musical history from an era that seems to be rapidly passing — and already was when Seals moved to Chicago.-Tom Geddie