King Biscuit Blues Festival in Historic Helena Marks 27th Year This October
Kimberly J. Williams, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
“Blues means what milk does to a baby. Blues is what the spirit is to the minister. We sing the blues because our hearts have been hurt, our souls have been disturbed.” Alberta Hunter
Listen closely and you can hear it… the soulful sounds of a guitar and the brusque voice of the bluesman, proclaiming all the wrongs he has faced. It’s the blues… and it has become the heartbeat of the Arkansas Delta, a region that is no stranger to hardship. You hear that adversity in the music… and it reaches into the depths of the listener’s soul. It’s the blues…a powerful, lyrical lullaby for anyone who has faced pain or tragedy or just had a really bad day. It sweeps over you like the waves of the Mighty Mississippi.
Each October, thousands from throughout the world flock to historic downtown Helena as the music takes over – giving visitors a three-day, down-home, soul-baring musical history lesson. This October 4-6 marks the 27th year of the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Ark., one of the premier blues festivals in the country.
This year’s festival headliners are musical legends as well as crowd favorites.
Thursday, Oct. 4, caps off with an energetic performance by Delta darling Bobby Rush! He’s mesmerized crowds in Europe and Japan, but Bobby is always most “at home” when playing blues in the Mississippi Delta region. Born in Louisiana, Bobby moved to Chicago in the mid-50s, where he performed with the likes of Freddie King, Luther Allison and Earl Hooker. Rush has been performing all over the world for more than 50 years, but he shows no signs of stopping.
On Friday, Taj Mahal returns to the festival. Taj first played “the Biscuit’ in 2010, and he personally told me that he couldn’t wait to get back. Born in Massachusetts, his father was a jazz pianist, composer and arranger of Caribbean descent, and his mother was a gospel singing schoolteacher from South Carolina. Both parents encouraged him to take pride in their diverse ethnic and cultural roots. And he did just that!
Bonnie Raitt recently released her 19th album. She comes from a musical family – her father was a Broadway legend and her mother an accomplished pianist/singer. While attending Radcliffe College, Bonnie’s love for the blues blossomed and she performed alongside legends such as Howlin’ Wolf and Sippie Wallace. She is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall of Fame.
This year’s festival takes place on Oct. 4-6. In its 27 years, the festival has become known worldwide -- and visitors from across the globe flock to downtown Helena for three days of music, special events, food and fun!
For the full lineup or to purchase Main Stage tickets, visit www.KingBiscuitFestival.com. ####
Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & TourismOne Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, 501-682-7606
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