back from King Biscuit

David Carrigan
Mon Oct 8 11:26:49 EDT 2007

   Back from the 22nd Annual Arkansas Blues and Heritage Fest in Helena, here's some of my highlights.  I've attended the Biscuit since 1993 and it continues to be impossible to fully explain to anyone who has never experienced it what it's like to listen to live blues in the Mississippi delta.

    Hot and dry this year, no change of clothes necessary throughout the day; warm but comfortable at night. Good crowds, it's always great to bring the blues family together and meet new friends who can change you forever.

   Unexpected but pleasing discovery this year, Dorothy "Miss Blues" Ellis, a charged up singer in the blues shouter vein. We witnessed an amazing performance with alot of spunk from this Texas native now Okie senior citizen.

   Eugene Hideaway Bridges' electric set was much better than his acoustic set earlier, but Moreland and Arbuckle (with drums) were incredible when plugged in on the street as compared to their acoustic set on stage. Their dynamism doesn't come through when they sit down and you could tell it in their cd sales. They sold everything they brought from Wichita while on the street, and had to drive halfway back home to replenish! Certainly a highlight for me.

  Another highlight was Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. True performers who understand dynamic range in their song writing, and some of the best entertainers out there. Visually they had the audience in awe and aurally I was thrilled with their updated country blues.

   Brad Webb in two performances, with and without Blind Mississippi Morris Cummings was another high point for me. I enjoyed Brad's quiet professionalism, and the musical tightness onstage with his group of friends. Morris generates the excitement that makes me wish I had seen Muddy and the Wolf back in the day.

  For me it seems, the smaller the venue, the better. I think the intimacy level goes way down on a larger stage. I've found this true in Chicago, Helena, and Duluth (Bayfront) as well. Even the sound of the band changes as the space opens up. We enjoyed Sean Carney much more at Ground Zero than on the main stage.  Same for Willie King.  Jimmy Holmes was more enjoyable at Cathead than at the Biscuit or at the Chicago Fest.

  The Biscuit definitely misses Robert Lockwood and Sam Myers. Anson and the Rockets are not the same without Sam. For those who have had wonderful meals with Miss Cora at Bullocks, I'm sorry to report she's in the hospital (cancer I think). But breakfast at Granny Dee's was the best I've ever had. Also we thought there were more refurbished storefronts on Cherry Street.

   As always some the greatest music out on the streets. Richard Johnston was flat incredible as usual. On stage the Mannish Boys proved why they are worthy of headlining and closing down anyone's festival. What a great grand finale to one of my favorite Biscuits ever. Papajoe

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