There should be enough Blues for everyone to round between Sept. 26 and Oct. 12. That's when the third annual Bridging the Blues experience gets underway in the tri-state area of Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi.
There should be enough Blues for everyone to round between Sept. 26 and Oct. 12. That’s when the third annual Bridging the Blues experience gets underway in the tri-state area of Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi.
During the 2-week period, more than 100 musical events, including 15 festivals, will take place. Besides the weekend festivals other special events blues fans can take in include vintage juke joints, the unveiling of Mississippi Blues trail markers, public talks with blues artists, live radio programs and blues competitions.
Bridging the Blues is a joint effort of the three neighboring states. The first weekend alone features three festivals – Clarksdale’s Busking Festival (Sept. 26-28), Gonerfest in Memphis (Sept. 27) and the Sam Chatmon Blues and Barbecue Festival featuring leading artists of the Delta Music Scene, also on Sept. 27.
Of course, one of the centerpieces of BTB is Helena’s own 4-day King Biscuit Blues Festival, Oct. 8-11. Entering its 29th year, the impressive lineup consists of Roy Rogers and Sonny Landreth, Delbert McClinton, Jimmy Vivino and the Black Italians (Conan O’ Brien’s late night TV show band) and festival favorites such as Bobby Rush and James Cotton and much, much more along historic Cherry Street.
Several other Helena events are included in the BTB itinerary. Each Monday through Friday, blues fans can gather at the Delta Cultural Center studio and watch veteran broadcaster Sonny “Sunshine” Payne host the legendary King Biscuit Time radio program on KFFA.
Special blues exhibits will be set up at various museums throughout Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi including the DCC and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Helena.
The 4th annual Call and Response Blues Symposium will take place at the Malco Theater on Oct. 11. The symposium features panels of blues musicians and journalists.
A trail marker honoring harmonica great Sonny Boy Williams II will be among Blues Trail markers to be unveiled during the BTB. The unveiling is scheduled to take place in Helena on Oct. 9. There are currently over 50 Mississippi Blues Trail markers in the Delta region alone.
The past two years, Bridging the Blues has attracted tens of thousands of visitors from across the nation and around the world to this region of the Delta. The Mississippi Tourism Association named BTB as the 2013 Tourism Achievement winner.
Bridging the Blues is a partnership between the Arkansas Delta Byways, Arkansas Parks & Tourism, the Mississippi Delta Tourism Association, the Mississippi Development Authority Division of Tourism and the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.