If you ask anyone experienced with blues music, if there’s any remaining legends still active in the year 2019, the name “Buddy Guy” is more likely to pop up than anyone on the market. Over the course of an extraordinary 66-year career, Buddy has influenced multiple artists, from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton, and has been named the best guitarist alive. The Torch delves into his musical legacy and his resilience through his working decades, all while he prepares for the fact that one day, the successor that he personally chose will rise and take his place.
Featuring a wide array of interviewees including Carlos Santana, Quinn Sullivan, and Tom Hambridge, The Torch takes a leisurely stroll down memory lane to explore different facets of Guy’s career and personal life. From his childhood on a sharecropper plantation in rural Louisiana, to his time spent with Muddy Waters and B.B. King, no stone is left unturned. The best moments in the documentary come from Guy himself, as his voice recounts his wild experiences around the world, including a chance meeting with Waters in London during the sixties. Watching him pluck and shred on his guitar is exhilarating. No wonder Clapton called him the world’s best guitar player!
Unfortunately, there are some moments when the film’s pacing drags due to its meandering structure. It’s not tight enough to keep audiences invested after the first hour is finished, and it ultimately becomes a bit of a chore to watch unless you’re a super-fan of Buddy Guy. Still, there’s small pleasures to be found even in the snail-paced second half; intimate human moments between lovers of the blues abound. The Torch is a solid and highly entertaining documentary about one of the last remaining legends of the blues.
The Torch was the official closing night film of this year’s Chicago International Film Festival. IFC Films will release the film in the coming months