Lightning in a Bottle Lightning in a Bottle A one-night history of the blues.

Watch the Trailer


In February of 2003, thousands of music fans gathered at Radio City Music Hall for a tribute concert to honor the enduring legacy of blues music. The benefit concert featured blues royalty like Buddy Guy and B.B. King, as well as their musical heirs ranging from Bonnie Raitt to Mos Def to India.Arie. Lightning in a Bottle chronicles this landmark night in the history of popular music.

Lightning in a Bottle follows the story of the week leading up to the concert—including rehearsals and back-stage footage—and the concert itself: a night where the mix of competition and generosity among the more than fifty illustrious artists pushed all of their performances to dizzying heights.

Lightning in a Bottle brings you into the audience, behind the scenes and, at moments, back in time. The concert takes the viewer through the historical and geographical journey of the blues, beginning with its roots in Africa, up through the Mississippi Delta and into the cities of Memphis and Chicago in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It follows the music to England and back to the U.S., and ultimately out to the world through contemporary rock 'n’ roll and hip hop. At times, the film looks into the lives of writers and performers who have endured the pain of racism and poverty and managed to transform their experiences into a brilliant music. The blues is endowed with a remarkable ability to connect with universal feelings of desire, love, loss and bitter disappointment. Through the eyes of the performers featured in Lightning in a Bottle, you see the music for what it truly is: a road map to the human soul.

Proceeds from the “Salute to the Blues” Radio City Music Hall benefit concert featured in the film went to The Blues Music Foundation (BMF). Founded in 2002, BMF is a non-profit, international organization dedicated to the preservation of blues history, the celebration of blues excellence, support of music education (particularly the blues), and the provision of financial assistance to needy and worthy individuals who have made contributions to the blues.

Released by Sony Pictures Classics on October 15, 2004.

Presented by Vulcan Productions in Association with Cappa Productions & Jigsaw Productions



  • Antoine Fuqua: Director
  • Martin Scorsese : Executive Producer
  • Paul G. Allen : Executive Producer
  • Jody Allen: Executive Producer
  • Jack Gulick: Producer
  • Margaret Bodde : Producer
  • Alex Gibney: Producer
  • Richard Hutton: Co-Producer
  • Steve Jordan : Musical Director
  • Lisa Rinzler: Director of Photography
  • Bob Eisenhardt : Editor
  • Keith Salmon : Editor
Where to See It