Music is in the Air in May in the Arkansas Delta


Music is an important part of the history and culture of the Arkansas Delta. A myriad of genres weave together to form the musical fabric of the region. In May, festivals and events throughout the Arkansas Delta pay homage to the sounds of the region.

Warfield Concerts in Helena-West Helena will host the annual Warfield Music Festival on May 2-5.  On Thursday, May 2, Philip Bauer takes the stage at the Lily Peter Auditorium in A Tribute to Johnny Cash. Immediately preceding the Cash tribute, Dr. Ruth Hawkins will speak on the history of the Cash family’s move to Dyess and give an update on the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project. Friday, May 3, is a “dine and dance” concert by the Skirtlifters at the replica of the Civil War era fortress, Fort Curtis, in historic downtown Helena. Catfish plates will be available for purchase and attendees are invited to bring their lawn chairs and folding tables for an evening under the stars.

Step Afrika brings stepping to the stage of the Lily Peter Auditorium on May 4. Stepping grew out of the song and dance rituals practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities, where the body is used as an instrument to create intricate rhythms and sounds through a combination of footsteps, claps and spoken word. Sunday, May 5, is an outdoor performance and picnic at the Cherry Street Pavilion in historic downtown Helena at 6 p.m. Everyone is invited to bring a picnic and enjoy a performance by the Saxton’s Cornet Band.

You can wile away a few hours or a few days enjoying live bluegrass, gospel and country music during Village Creek State Park’s annual Pickin’ in the Park in Wynne. Pickin’ in the Park is a musical event like no other…there are no set bands and no set show times, but there is plenty of great, informal live gospel, bluegrass, folk and country playing the entire day. The event is scheduled for May 3-4. You’ll find musicians and vendors galore at this family-friendly event. Bring your lawn chair and listen as professional and amateur musicians play their favorite tunes. If you play an instrument, make sure and bring it along! 

Historic downtown Helena is the site for the 3rd annual Arkansas Delta Rockabilly Festival on May 10-11. The festival is an opportunity to experience rockabilly at its best. On Friday, May 10, performers include Brandon Cunning and the Stunning Cunning Band, Chili and the Barracudas, C.W. Gatlin, Sleepy LaBeef, and the Cate Brothers (with a tribute to the Arkansas Delta’s own, Levon Helm). Headlining Friday night is Ben “Cooter” Jones and Cooter’s Garage Band. Jones, a member of the cast of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” is bringing along one of television’s most popular cars, the General Lee. Saturday’s performance roster includes Stan Perkins and D.J. Fontana, Reba Russell, W.S. Holland, Ace Cannon, Wanda Jackson, Linda Gail Lewis, Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers (with special guest Lance Lipinsky from “Million Dollar Quartet”), Travis Wammack, and the Kentucky Headhunters. 

The sound of gospel music fills the air when the Delta Cultural Center in Helena-West Helena hosts the 13th annual Arkansas Delta Family Gospel Festival on Saturday, May 18. This year’s festival features performances by national, regional and local groups, including the Fairfield Four, the Martins, Gospel Souls, the Eternal Light Singers, the Gospel Wonders, and many others. 

Enjoy an evening of gospel music as Cane Creek State Park in Star City hosts the Spring Music in the Park on May 25. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets and watch the sunset while enjoying great live music.