Like the nearby Mississippi River, the blues just keep flowing in and out of Helena-West Helena, a town that celebrates its musical heritage yearly on the second weekend of October. Like the music itself, the weather can vary, from perfect to stormy, hot or cold, but chances are, the crowds will arrive, no matter what.
The festival got its start in 1986 with performers playing on the back of a flatbed truck, and has since grown to such fame among music fans that attendance estimates in recent years reached 100,000.
More than 60 acts will perform on the five stages, which will be in various locations on or near Cherry Street, Helena’s “main street” downtown. The main stage, which faces east toward the Mississippi River levee, is the only stage where admission is charged. Food and beverage vendors, as well as arts and crafts vendors, will be set up behind the stage and for many blocks along Cherry Street.
Some of the musical highlights this year include:
Today: Walter “Wolfman” Washington from 6:15 to 7:35 p.m., Sonny Landreth from 7:55 to 9:15 p.m. and Marcia Ball starting at 9:35 p.m.
Friday: CeDell Davis, from 1 to 1:50 p.m., Reba Russell Band from 1:35 to 2:45 p.m., C.W. Gatlin from 3:20 to 4:20 p.m., Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets from 6:05 to 7:25 p.m., Paul Thorn from 7:45 to 9:05 p.m. and Robert Cray at 9:30 p.m.
Saturday: Don McMinn from 12:20 to 1:30 p.m., Charlotte Taylor & Gypsy Rain from 1 to 1:50 p.m., Kenny Smith Band with Bob Margolin from 1:50 to 3:10 p.m., Larry McCray from 3:35 to 4:55 p.m., David Kimbrough Jr. Band from 4:40 to 5:40 p.m., Blind Mississippi Morris from 6 to 7 p.m., James Cotton from 7:10 to 8:30 p.m., Joe Louis Walker from 7:20 to 8:30 p.m., Bobby Rush from 8:50 to 10 p.m. and Gregg Allman starting at 9:05 p.m.
Besides the main stage,there will also be the Lockwood-Stackhouse Stage, the Bit-O-Blues Stage, the Tid-Bit-Block, the Rising Biscuit Stage and the Gospel Stage.
A Blues Symposium, which was first held in 2011, returns again to the Malco Theatre, 422 Cherry St., and will feature musicians Bobby Rush, Carl Weathersby, Blind Mississippi Morris, Brad Webb, Ernest “Guitar” Roy Jr., Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry, Robert “Dr. Feelgood” Potts and David Malone Kimbrough Jr., plus blues writers and authorities Matt Marshall, Don Wilcock and Roger Stolle.
Free shuttle services have sprung up for fans, with one, at the corner of Phillips and Walnut streets, taking patrons to hotels in the Helena-West Helena area, as well as to local private residences and area lodging, from 12:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. each day. Another free shuttle takes fans over the Mississippi River to the Isle of Capri hotel/casino in Lula, Miss., from 6 p.m. until midnight today and from 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.King Biscuit
Blues Festival 11 a.m. to midnight today, Friday and Saturday, Cherry and Missouri streets, downtown Helena-West Helena $45 main stage; free for other fi ve stages (870) 572-5223 kingbiscuitfestival.com
Weekend, Pages 37 on 10/10/2013
Print Headline: 60 acts rising to the occasion at King Biscuit Blues festival