Satan and Adam, a film by Scott Balcerek about the unlikely partnership of renowned bluesman Sterling Magee “Mr. Satan” and young Princeton graduate Adam Gussow took twenty-three years to make. The film is a musical and spiritual odyssey between two men who developed a loving and fierce friendship, and went from singing on a street corner in Harlem in the 1980s to international stardom.
Listen to Jeff Zolitor”s insightful interview with Scott Balcerek on his Roots and All program on KZYX
“Satan’s gonna play with the white boys,” Adam recollects hearing in whispers among a rapidly-growing crowd the first time he played.
But nothing could deter him from following his dream and playing harmonica with the talented “Mr. Satan”. A chance meeting with members of the band U2 led to a celebrated debut record, but their meteoric rise was cut short when Mr. Satan mysteriously disappeared for many years. The extensive archival footage in Satan and Adam beautifully captures the dynamic of their relationship, the development of their career together, and the struggles and hardships they faced along the way.
Satan’s wife Miss Maicy appears periodically in the film, lending yet another note to the unusual story that unfolds in New York, at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and points south. The third act of the film is a story of love, redemption, and the power of music to heal body and soul.
Satan and Adam shows how the two musicians were able to break through the boundaries of color, age, and class to find common ground in the joy and pain of creating music together. The racial issues examined in the film are portrayed with truth, compassion, and insight. Satan and Adam follows the duo through some tough times, but always finds the deep and loving connection between them and introduces other heart-centered characters who give the audience a taste of what friendship and caring truly mean.
Satan and Adam received the Grand Jury Prize at the Nashville Film Festival and was nominated for awards at many film festivals, including the Tribeca Film Festival, and the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Satan and Adam will be shown at Matheson in Mendocino on Saturday, June 3 at 3:00 p.m. There will be a Q&A with filmmaker following the showing.
Jeff Zolitor has been a member of Folk Alliance International for many years. He promoted and booked music for public events in Norisstown, PA, and was a producer of the Champaign Urbana Folk and Roots Festival in Urbana, IL. He currently writes about music for the Fort Bragg Advocate-News and produces live musical events on the Mendocino Coast through Roots & All Live! in Fort Bragg, CA.
KZYX is Community Public Radio for all of Mendocino County and beyond, providing news, interviews, music, information, culture and entertainment from around the corner and around the globe. KZYX is a member-owned public radio nonprofit with nationally syndicated programs from NPR, PRI, APM and Pacifica Network.