Lightning in a Bottle (2004)

# 14764 IMDb PG-13 

Lightning in a Bottle (2004

taglineOne night in New York, history was made.

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Stars: Chris Thomas King, Macy Gray, Martin Scorsese, David Johansen, Levon Helm

Documentary, Music (1h 43min)


Rated 7.7 after 603 votes, 78% postive reviews on 20-Dec-18.

1 win & 2 nominations


Beginning with a stirring African folk song (Zélié performed by Angélique Kidjo) the roots are established and rapidly swell into a trunk thickened by the hardships of the Great Depression (Gamblin' Man performed by David 'Honeyboy' Edwards) and the oppression of segregation (Jim Crow Blues performed by Odetta). Finally, this Blues family tree shows off vibrant new growth as it reveals the Blues' influence on our modern wealth of talented musicians (Midnight Special performed by John Fogerty and Hound Dog done by Macy Gray). Ruth Brown gives Blll Cosby a full-throttle serenade (and a playful smoldering gaze), along with Mavis Staples and Natalie Cole. Angélique Kidjo persuades Buddy Guy to an unforgettable rendition of 'Voodoo Child,' shortly before Bonnie Raitt and Robert Cray accompany B.B. King and Lucille for the final number, 'Paying the Cost to be the Boss.' This documentary presents to the audience, with authority and candor, an authentic history of this musical form. The highly esteemed elders of this musical family are exemplary in their humbleness toward one another, rich with decades of shared memories; and their performances are of a quality rarely seen in modern times. These men and women are true artisans, yet they continue to generously pass their legacy down to select members of each musical generation. Those who grew up on this music find themselves performing on the stage with the very heroes who served as their earliest inspiration. Legends, such as Ruth Brown, Honeyboy Edwards, Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown, B.B. King, Howling Wolf, and Buddy Guy, gave the world a double helping of their genius-first with song and secondly as the spirit which supplies the continuation of their art: in such artists as Natalie Cole, Jimmie Vaughan, John Fogerty, Macy Gray, Alison Krause, and Bonnie Raitt.


Antoine Fuqua (director) Aerosmith Gregg Allman India Arie Solomon Burke Chuck D Natalie Cole

Aerosmith (Themselves), Gregg Allman (Himself), India Arie (Herself (as India.Arie)), James Blood Ulmer (Himself), Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown (Himself), Ruth Brown (Herself), Solomon Burke (Himself), Chuck D (Himself), Natalie Cole (Herself), Shemekia Copeland (Herself), Bill Cosby (Himself), Robert Cray (Himself), Dr. John (Himself), Honeyboy Edwards (Himself), John Fogerty (Himself), Macy Gray (Herself), Buddy Guy (Himself), John Hammond (Himself), Levon Helm (Himself), David Johansen (Himself), Larry Johnson (Himself), Angélique Kidjo (Herself), B.B. King (Himself), Chris Thomas King (Himself), Alison Krauss (Herself), Lazy Lester (Himself), Keb' Mo' (Himself), Odetta (Herself), Joe Perry (Guitarplayer / song writer), Bonnie Raitt (Herself), Vernon Reid (Himself), Mavis Staples (Herself), Hubert Sumlin (Himself), Jimmie Vaughan (Himself), Kim Wilson (Himself), Martin Scorsese (Himself (uncredited))

From the same director

Produced by

Jody Allen (executive producer (as Jody Patton)), Paul G. Allen (executive producer), Margaret Bodde (producer), Alex Gibney (producer), Jack Gulick (producer), Richard Hutton (co-producer), Susan Motamed (co-producer), Martin Scorsese (executive producer)



Overall, this recent concert was good and offered a wonderful group of diverse artists. I had never heard of about a half dozen of these performers and really liked a lot of the "new" faces (to me). They ranged from a few old-time gentlemen to a couple of young women. Macy Gray blew me away with her rendition of "Hound Dog."

I also had no idea Natalie Cole could belt out the blues as she did. Wow, that was a pleasant surprise, as were the two Aerosmith performers, Steve Tyler and Joe Perry. I thought they were just rock/heavy metal-type guys. Wrong. Kim Wilson on harmonica was great, and Buddy Guy playing guitar is always awesome.

How about the band? There were some heavy hitters in there and they left no doubt what a great time they were having helping out most of these performers.

The only negative to this DVD, as a few others have pointed out, is the ridiculous rendition by Chuck D of a John Lee Hooker classic. Plus, he made things worse by turning the song into some really lame anti-war diatribe. This is where the expression, "Shut Up And Sing" takes hold. There is always some moron who has to get political, where it's not the forum for that sort of thing. The real question is, "Why was this included in the DVD while so much other good music was not included?"

Anyway, B.B. King finishes up the disc on a positive note and then Bonnie Raitt and Robert Cray join him as the ending credits roll.

This is more of a concert than a documentary but the songs are short, too short for my tastes since I enjoyed them so much but, hey, there were a lot of "acts" to squeeze into this 103- minute DVD, so I understand. I'd rather have paid more and had a two-disc DVD and heard the entire night's offering. That would be awesome.

Speaking of that, don't forget the extra bonus tracks on the "features" part of the DVD. There is some excellent music in this, some of it, I found, better than many of the performances on the main concert. The two Aerosmith dudes, Greg Allman and guitarist Warren Haynes, Buddy Guy doing another number and a "21st Century Blues" rendition of "Revelation," featuring Chris Thomas King. These extra songs are not to be missed.

Any fan of blues, I would suspect, would want this in his or her collection.

Memorable quotes

B.B. King: [referring to a crowd that booed him once after his name was announced] At first, they didn't care nothin' about the blues. They didn't know nothin' about me. The reason they booed 'cause it was blues. When they said "blues", hey, it's like being black twice.

3 total 


1 win & 2 nominations 
Black Reel Awards • Satellite Awards

Other titles

Blues ekrixi (Greece (festival title)) • Молния в бутылке (Russia)



Rated PG-13 for brief strong language


Argentina:Atp / Australia:PG / Canada:PG / United Kingdom:PG / United States:PG-13



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