‘Satan & Adam’ is an upbeat take on two blues outliers

( Unrated ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

V. Scott Balcerek's documentary is an effervescent tale of the partnership of Sterling Magee and Adam Gussow and how they became a small sensation.

Courtesy of Cargo Film & Releasing
Sterling Magee, also known as Mr. Satan (l.), and Adam Gussow (r.), are featured in V. Scott Balcerek's blues documentary "Satan and Adam."

In Harlem in the mid-1980s, an extraordinary street musician named Sterling Magee, who called himself Mr. Satan and billed himself as a “one man blues band,” developed quite a local following. 

Around the same time Adam Gussow, a disaffected, white Columbia grad student, discovered Magee by happenstance and, being an adept blues harmonica player, asked to join in. Despite some initial street skepticism about the racial pairing, the two men became, for a time, a minor sensation, eventually opening for Buddy Guy in Central Park and touring Europe with Bo Diddley before circumstances took their toll.

The documentary “Satan & Adam,” directed by V. Scott Balcerek, recounts the odyssey of these two outliers, and what it lacks in coherence is remedied by its verve. Ultimately it’s an upbeat movie about life’s downbeats. Grade: B (Not rated.)

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