Helena

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  King Biscuit Time 2001 in Helena   (Now called the Helena Blues Festival)

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'Spirit of Sonny Boy'

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     In Helena, Arkansas, on the levee by the Mississippi they hold the King Biscuit Festival

Until the 1940's Helena was a wide-open town, full of blues. The list of people who played there includes: Charley Patton, Roosevelt Sykes, Robert Johnson, Johnny Shines and local musicians such as Robert Nighthawk, Frank Frost and Sam Carr. It was also home to one of the first daily radio blues shows 'King Biscuit Time' (advertising flour) that featured Robert Lockwood Jr, Pinetop Perkins and Sonny Boy Williamson II when it began in the early 1940's.

The festival runs for three days, the line-up in 2001 included: Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Robert Lockwood, Pinetop Perkins, Sam Carr, Otha Turner, Paul Oscher and Paul Geremia, among others, and a wonderful Gospel stage.

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Eddie Mae's cafe

Frank Frost (1936-1999) played locally on King Biscuit Time with Sonny Boy Williamson II, and in his own band The Jelly Roll Kings with Big Jack Johnson and Sam Carr (the son of Robert Nighthawk). He was even in the 'Crossroads' movie. Eddie Mae serves delicious hog-maws and greens.

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Gish Music Store

Mr Gish sold 78's from a handcart through the black section of town in the 1940's, and still had mint Roosevelt Sykes and T-Bone Walker ones! Note also the Guild, Martin and Gibson guitars for sale - they had been there since new in the 1970's.