So, here’s what you do….arrange to be within a few miles of Helena, Arkansas (just across the river in northwestern Mississippi is OK too) right after noon. 12:15 pm to be exact, with a receiver that can still tune to AM radio.
Set the tuner to AM 1360. Yes, I know it’s scratchy. Welcome to AM radio; it’s far from airbrushed.
Soon you’ll hear….
“It’s 12:15! You’re listening to Radio Kaaay Eff Eff AAAAAAYYYYYY …. Pass the biscuits ’cause it’s King Biscuit Time on KFFA Radio.”
Show host “Sunshine” Sonny Payne will come on, list the sponsors, then roll right into the first song. He was born in 1925, so if you want to hear him live and in person, you’d better hurry up. He’s broadcasting from the Delta Cultural Center in downtown Helena, but the show itself has been going since 1941 (they tell you which number show it is during each 30 minute program – last time I listened it was above 16,000.)
It looks like they’ve started sharing recorded King Biscuit Time shows on the InterWebs; I love imagining someone in Moscow or Osaka or Santiago or Wroclaw listening to blues music and local advertisements from deep in the Mississippi Delta.
To hear more blues music in person, there’s a new initiative this year called Bridging the Blues. It’s 12 days of celebrating blues music, starting today (September 27) and running through October 8. What’s unique is that tourism organizations in Mississippi, Arkansas and Memphis (Tennessee) have all gotten together to organize it, and they’re doing a lot of their marketing on the social web.
The idea is to start out highlighting the Highway 61 Blues Festival in Leland, Mississippi on September 29, then have a series of concerts and events that bridge the time until the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena October 4-6.
It’s not just concerts, juke joints and jam sessions, though. There’s a #BluesTweetUp in Tunica, book signings, parties, arts festivals, photography exhibits and lots of activity at one of my very favorite places in the Delta, the Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art store in downtown Clarksdale, MS.
Follow the #BridgingTheBlues and #BluesTweetUp hashtags on Twitter, throw some blues into your road trip music playlist and to really get in the mood, kick back with this video below of blues harmonica great James Cotton playing “Little Red Rooster” with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones (direct link to the video on YouTube)
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