New York Festivals’ TV & Film Awards presents Silver award to Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery

April 16, 2024

The New York Festivals’ TV & Film Awards, a decades-old international program to honor documentaries, entertainment films, and other work on television around the world presented a Silver award to Jukeboxer Productions’ Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery during a virtual telecast on Tuesday evening, April 16.

The award was presented in the Documentary: Biography/Profiles category. Other winners in that category included films that were broadcast on the BBC, NHK Japan, Fox Sports Network, Channel 4 UK, Netflix, and other major outlets.

Wes Bound is the first-ever documentary film on jazz guitar genius Wes Montgomery, a prolific recording and touring artist who bridged the gap between jazz and pop music and was world-famous for his use of his thumb instead of a pick (or plectrum) to strum the strings of his electric guitars. The film is built around Wes’s son, Robert, who was only six when he witnessed his father’s death from a heart attack after returning from a tour. Robert leads discussions with world-class musicians, including George Benson, Pat Metheny, Slash, Russell Malone, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Billy Hart, Mimi Fox, Lee Ritenour, Larry Ridley, Pharez Whitted, and many others.


Wes Bound is nationwide on public TV stations

Feb. 1, 2024

Beginning today, public TV stations and statewide networks across America are airing Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes MontgomeryThe one-hour program is the first-ever film documentary on the life, musical influences, and creativity of Wes Montgomery, an acknowledged musical genius who wrote more than 60 jazz compositions and recorded more than 20 albums in a nine-year recording career.

Large market TV stations such as KQED in San Francisco, WLRN in Miami, and WPPT in Philadelphia are among 238 stations and state public TV networks that have scheduled airings of Wes Bound during February and March, 2024. Alaska, Hawaii, and stations from New Hampshire and Vermont to southern California are airing the firm and putting it on their websites.

Statewide networks including Maryland Public TV, KET (Kentucky Educational Television), Oregon Public Broadcasting, Rocky Mountain PBS, NJTV (New Jersey Television) and South Carolina ETV are airing the film. Some stations are broadcasting it multiple times over the next few weeks.

Wes’s son, Robert, serves as conversation leader with some of the greatest jazz and rock musicians of our time who played with Wes, or met him, or just became fans. That includes George Benson, Pat Metheny, Slash, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Russell Malone, Billy Hart, Lee Ritenour, Mimi Fox, Pharez Whitted, Larry Ridley, Eric Johnson, and many others. That list includes multiple Grammy winners, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, NEA Jazz Masters and other greats. Also in the film are Montgomery family members, jazz historians, musicologists and others who explain Wes’s contributions to music.

The film is also on (see link above) and on the PBS Passport streaming platform.

Jukeboxer Productions launches Further Wes Bound, a YouTube channel

July 15, 2023

The makers of Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery often talked about the “embarrassment of riches” they had with all of the film they shot but did not make it into the original documentary. Co-producer and editor Jim Hall estimates our crews shot about 50 hours of film, much of it interviews with world-famous musicians, Montgomery family members, historians, and others with their own take on the man many consider the greatest jazz guitarist of all time.

So, what to do with all of that unused (and unseen) film? We decided to roll out Further Wes Bounda YouTube channel with excerpts from those interviews with the likes of George Benson, Pat Metheny, Slash, Mimi Fox, Russell Malone, and many more.

The producers plan to introduce new clips in Summer 2024, so Wes fans around the world can continue to savor stories about their hero. Meantime, if you’re just hearing about this channel, check it out right now. You’ll go down a few musical rabbit holes worth your time.

Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery enjoys its world premiere on WTIU (PBS) near Wes’s hometown

Feb. 26, 2023

The first-ever film documentary on jazz guitar genius premiered on Feb. 26, 2023 as part of a double bill with a recorded live, in-studio musical tribute to Indianapolis jazz guitar genius Wes Montgomery. Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery tells the story of a young man who didn’t get serious about the guitar until age 19 (after hearing his hero Charlie Christian’s performance on Solo Flight) but within a few years was touring with one of the biggest bands in the land: Lionel Hampton’s orchestra.

But Wes Montgomery was no overnight sensation. He worked at his craft for years while also working day jobs in Indianapolis, then playing gigs along Indiana Avenue and at nearby clubs in Indianapolis each night, then finishing off with after-hours club appearances that would end just in time for him to get breakfast and go back to work at that day job.

Years after the Hampton tour, Wes finally made his passion for music performance AND composition his only job when Riverside Records gave him his first recording contract in 1959. What followed was a frenzied nine-year stretch of multiple albums each year, tours all of the country (and one big one in Europe), and writing new compositions, some of which became jazz standards.

Along the way, he and his wife Serene brought up seven kids in Indianapolis and Wes also drew a following of other musicians–first, big touring acts such as Duke Ellington’s band, then greats from John Coltrane to Jimmy Smith to Milt Jackson who loved to gig or even record with Wes. By the 1960s, Wes was winning either jazz critics’ or fans’ awards from Downbeat magazine almost every year–sometimes, both awards. Then came Grammy Awards and a Gold Record with more international tours planned.

But there was no fairly tale ending in this story. Still, Wes made a compelling case for proving you don’t have to be a jerk to be a genius. That’s something that his son, Robert, wants everyone to take away from the film. Robert serves as conversation leader with musicians from George Benson and Pat Metheny to Slash, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Mimi Fox, Russell Malone, Billy Hart, Larry Ridley, Eric Johnson, Lee Ritenour, Pharez Whitted and so many more.

After the film debut, WTIU also aired Wes at 100, a concert film featuring Dave Stryker and other professional musicians and student musicians from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Jacobs Associate Prof. Brent Wallarab wrote the arrangements of Wes’s music and other tunes for this heartfelt home state tribute.

Jukeboxer Productions adds presenting station, fiscal agent for Wes Bound

Oct. 23, 2020 

The first film documentary on the life of guitar genius Wes Montgomery now has a broadcast home and a fiscal agent to administer fundraising for the multi-year project.

Jukeboxer Productions has signed an agreement with Bloomington, Indiana-based PBS affiliate WTIU-TV, which will host the premiere of the film in March 2023. That debut date will mark the 100th anniversary of Montgomery’s birth in Indianapolis. The multiple Grammy-winning artist died in 1968 at age 45.

WTIU is also the “presenting station,” launching nationwide distribution through the country’s public television system.

“WTIU is excited to partner with Jukeboxer Productions to feature Wes Bound to our broadcast and digital audiences,” said Rob Anderson, interim executive director of WTIU. “Each of us will learn, be inspired by, and benefit from a deeper understanding of Mr. Montgomery’s life and his lasting impact on the jazz world. WTIU is eager to bring this program to public television in Indiana and beyond.”

Wes Montgomery helped bring the jazz guitar out of the rhythm section to the front of the band as a solo instrument. He shows up on many lists among the Top Five jazz guitarists of all time, often listed as No. 1.

At age 19, he taught himself how to play a six-string guitar while in Indianapolis listening to Charlie Christian records and repeating the licks over and over again. Soon, he was playing gigs on Indiana Avenue with his brothers, Monk (bass) and Buddy (piano and vibes). Wes could not read music, yet wrote more than 60 jazz compositions, was nominated for several Grammy Awards and won two, earned a Gold Record, and won Best Jazz Guitarist in the DownBeat magazine Critics’ Poll six times.

Montgomery’s family is working with Jukeboxer Productions on the film, including sharing never before seen home movies Wes shot at home and while on tour. Wes’s son Robert is the point person for the documentary.

“We are so jazzed to have such enthusiastic production partners on this important project,” said Jukeboxer producer Kevin Finch. “WTIU brings a ton of experience in programs about music and they also have close ties to the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Also, Wes used to record with the late Jacobs faculty member Dr. David Baker, another natural tie.”

The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, now located on historic Indiana Avenue where Wes and brothers Monk and Buddy often played, agreed this week to serve as an executive producer of the film and its fiscal agent.

“What a location,” Finch said. “And Julia Whitehead and KMVL have experience in supporting important projects. After all, Kurt believed in the creative process.”

That includes accepting tax-deductible donations to support the production of Wes Bound.

“We are thrilled to work with our friend, the talented Kevin Finch, on this exciting and important project highlighting yet another extraordinary Hoosier,” said Julia Whitehead, founder and CEO of the KVML. “WTIU’s involvement is essential to making the kind of film Wes Montgomery deserves. The KVML is honored to work with Jukeboxer and WTIU in our capacity as executive producer.”

Finch worked with Whitehead and the Vonnegut Library in 2015 and 2016 when he produced and directed A Writer’s Roots: Kurt Vonnegut’s Indianapolis, the first documentary to explore the author’s considerable ties to his hometown of Indianapolis. The film was distributed nationally by American Public Television (APT) and was an Official Selection in the Heartland Film Festival.

Vonnegut friend and fellow bestselling author Dan Wakefield described the Vonnegut documentary as “the most accurate and true to the spirit of the man and his work of anything I have seen – or, in fact, anything I have read.”

Robert Montgomery said he’s excited to tell a story that hasn’t been told.

“We are going to interview musicians, but we’ll also let those of us from in his own house tell you what kind of man he was,” he said. “There was talent there, but there was more to the man than talent.”

He also noted the synergy of WTIU and the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library helping to celebrate another Indiana icon: “Wes … KVML … IU. Hoosiers celebrating a Hoosier,” he said.

About WTIU

Founded in 1969, WTIU is a PBS member station owned and operated by Indiana University. The station serves more than 600,000 households in 29 counties in south central Indiana. WTIU airs programming on five digital channels 24 hours a day, and its broadcast schedule combines the full national schedule of PBS programs with additional locally-produced series and programs.  Information is at

About the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

Renowned author Kurt Vonnegut took an unflinching look at the world, tempered with a satirical eye and sardonic sense of humor. In honor of his wit and wisdom, the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library champions the literary, artistic, and cultural contributions of the late writer, artist, teacher, and Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut. The library and museum serve as a cultural and educational resource unique to the nation. In November 2019, KVML moved to its “forever home” located on the historic Indiana Avenue in a 10,000 square foot building built in 1882.

About Jukeboxer Productions

Besides, Kevin Finch, the Jukeboxer Productions team includes editor and co-producer Jim Hall, a member of a two-time Peabody Award-winning television news investigative team. Hall’s work in short films has garnered international screenings and awards from film festivals.

NPR media critic Eric Deggans, an Indiana University graduate and accomplished musician, will narrate the film. Multiple Emmy Award-winning graphic designer Kris Burke, who worked on Jukeboxer’s last film, Triton: America’s Deep Secret, is back for this production.

Contacts: Kevin Finch, producer/director, Jukeboxer Productions,


Rob Anderson, interim general manager, WTIU, 812-855-8900.

Julia Whitehead, CEO, Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, 317-652-1954.