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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

LMRD Vol 7 No 9

Dedicated in memory of David Honeyboy Edwards

June 28, 1915 to August 29, 2011

Top Pick for Labor Day Weekend: If you haven’t yet made plans, you might be able to join Big Muddy Adventures for an unforgettable 3-day adventure along the bluffs of the Middle Mississippi 120 miles from the confluence down to the Cape! Saturday through Monday. Call or write now! See below for details.

With a Little Help From my Friends:

No one ever got anywhere without the support of family & friends.

As we leave the steaming cauldron the Summer 2011 and go spinning & swirling into Tropical Depression Thirteen (to be named Lee) with swift winds out of the North we at Quapaw Canoe Company are remembering our compatriots of the greater Mississippi Valley, first & foremost comes the Grey Eagle of the North himself, “Big Muddy” Michael F. Clark. Big Muddy Mike is leaving out tomorrow on a long weekend expedition from St. Louis to Cape Girardeau celebrating the 10th anniversary of his legendary “Learning Adventures.” These teaching adventures eventually evolved into his thriving business Big Muddy Adventures. Get to the confluence of the Big Muddy Missouri and the Upper Mississippi at Columbia Bottoms (near St. Louis) and join Big Muddy Mike Saturday for an unforgettable run down to Cape Girardeau. If you can’t make it, don’t worry, Big Muddy will take you anytime he’s not otherwise occupied. Also, he will guide you over the Chain of Rocks, where the entire Mississippi drops over a ten foot waterfall!! No joke (depending on water level). Lastly, are his Full Moon trips, the full moon rising over the city limits of Great St. Louis -- have you ever seen the Great Arch reflecting over the magical intensity of the darkened river? With Harvest Moon alongside? Later -- Hunter’s Moon? Keep reading for a full description & details from Big Muddy himself.

Quapaw Canoe Company: Upcoming Autumn Events on our schedule:

September 2011

Mon Sept 3 - Tues Sept 13

Louisiana Water Trails -- helping the good people of Northeast Louisiana establish water trails on the Tensas River, Bayou Macon, and Bayou Bartholomew, the “longest bayou in the world!”

Wed Sept 7th

British Adventurer Dave Cornthwaite scheduled to paddle his last miles to the Gulf of Mexico establishing a new SUP long distance record -- will Dave reach the Gulf through the gathering winds of Tropical Depression Thirteen (to be named Lee) before his visa expires? Follow the adventure at

Sat Sept 10

McKellar Lake Clean-up -- Living Lands & Waters founder Chad Pregracke said its the worst he’s seen in 13 years of river cleanups! And its right here in our backyard. Y’all let’s clean it up! See below for details. Contact Colton Cockrum:

Tues Sept 13

Canoe Surfing a 300-mile long Wave from Memphis to Vicksburg multi-media Presentation from the Flood of 2011 at the meeting of the Bayou Chapter of the Ozark Society -- now starring 24 foot Voyageur Canoe -- “the Cricket” -- handiwork of Bubba Battle. Featuring Hodding Carter, Chris LaMarca and John Ruskey. Soon to be produced into a DVD.

Friday Sept 16 - Sun Sept 18th

Autumnal Equinox Celebration with Cherokee Bear Dancers on remote Mississippi River Island, by invitation only. Please contact for more information.

Wed Sept 28 - Thurs Sept 29

Paddling and Canoeing Workshop for Agritourism Enterprise Development -- Monroe, Louisiana

Contact Dora Ann Hatch for more information or visit

October 2011

Sat Oct 1

McKellar Lake Clean-up -- Living Lands & Waters founder Chad Pregracke said its the worst he’s seen in 13 years of river cleanups! And its right here in our backyard. Y’all let’s clean it up! See below for details. Contact Colton Cockrum:

Thursday Oct 6 - Saturday Oct 8

King Biscuit Blues Festival -- Quapaw Helena is strategically located on the levee in between two stages at one of the world’s oldest & foremost blues festivals! Blues on the Mississippi River levee! KIPP Dugout Canoe on display. Go to: for lineup and more information.

Saturday, Oct 8

Phatwater Challenge, Natchez, Mississippi -- the end all of canoe & kayak races on the Lower Mississippi.

Saturday, Oct 8

Woodville Deer & Wildlife Festival from 10am to 5pm in downtown Woodville, Mississippi -- Live Dugout Canoe Carving Demonstration led by carver Michael F. Clark. for more info.

Saturday, Oct 15

Paddle & Float -- A One Day extravaganza produced by the Mississippi River Corridor -- Tennessee. Coming into Memphis down the Mississippi River is a spectacular experience! Go to for more information.

Big Muddy Adventures Dispatch

September 2011

Ten years ago, I set off on my first great river expedition, a complete navigation of the Mississippi River, from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico. It was an epic adventure learning project. For seventy-nine days, I and my two partners paddled and led thousands of students in a live and virtual exploration of America’s great river. There was no doubt that I had found my second calling,

Two months and 1800 miles into the trip, I met John Ruskey. John was resting on his legendary Ladybug canoe on a pristine sand bar in the middle of the Lower Mississippi River. It was an extraordinary encounter, one that I followed up on soon after reaching the Gulf of Mexico. John and I agreed to give this idea of adventure learning a go of it ourselves and so we paddled the length of the Missouri River together the next year, again engaging thousands of students as virtual partners. Now ten years after that first encounter, I am sitting here in my canoe office in St. Louis and counting my blessings.

Inspired by the Quapaw Canoe Company, I have followed my dream and John’s lead and established a full time canoe guiding and outfitting operation in St. Louis. This is my third year of full time operation and it has been a good one. We now purchased a great place to operate from right at the River, just below the Chain of Rocks in north St. Louis. We have an exceptionally dedicated staff and a growing reputation for our work connecting folks to the river. So thanks to all of you who have followed along, paddled along and simply been great supporters of our mission.

Hollow side up. Big Muddy Mike

BMA Calendar: September 2011

3 - 5 10 Year BMA Anniversary Expedition: St. Louis to Cape Girardeau

10 Full Harvest Moon Trip

11 Full Harvest Moon Trip

12 Full Harvest Moon Trip

15 Chain of Rocks Adventure

16 Lewis and Clark Community College Water Festival

17 Great Mississippi River Cleanup St. Louis MO

Missouri Stream Teams Summit: St. Louis Circumnavigation Presentation

18 Chain of Rocks Adventure

21 Chain of Rocks Adventure

Contact us at to reserve your spot or to book a trip. If you are interested in other dates not listed above, please contact us. We go when you are ready.

BMA’s Ten Year Anniversary Expedition

To celebrate the ten years of hard work and genuine passion for the rivers, BMA is offering a Labor Day expedition trip from St. Louis to Cape Girardeau. Join Big Muddy Mike on a paddling journey into the Middle Mississippi valley. Witness the beauty of the bluffs, backwaters, and islands from the American Bottoms to the upper reach of the Delta.

Dates: September 3-5, 2011 Labor Day Weekend

Route: Confluence of Missouri / Mississippi N. St. Louis to Cape Girardeau

Length of Trip: 120 River Miles, 3 days 2 nights

Cost $325 per person, including Guiding and Outfitting, Food Service, Shuttle

Chain of Rocks Adventure

For most of the year, the water levels of the Mississippi River near St. Louis remain above the stage when the falls and standing waves of the famed Chain of Rocks begin to appear and become a navigational challenge, however now the Mississippi River is slowly receding to more traditional and seasonal water levels. This is it! Time to experience the thrill of running the famed Chain of Rocks on the Mississippi River.

Big Muddy Adventures has been running the Chain with regularity and is now offering a few special day trips to experience the adventure. This trip includes paddling through the Confluence, eagle watching, the run of the Chain, and a wonderful picnic on Mosenthein Island.

When: Thursday, September 15, Sunday, September 18, Thursday September 22

Route: Columbia Bottoms Boat Ramp to N. Riverfront Park St. Louis

Length of Trip: 14 miles, 6 hours including picnic and rest stops. Departure time TBA

Cost: $90 per person including Guiding and Outfitting, Food Service, Shuttle

Full Harvest Moon Trips

BMA is celebrating the annual Harvest Moon in style with trips on Saturday, Sunday and Monday night of the September Full Moon cycle. Experience the beauty of sunset and the wonders of the Mississippi River in the light of the full moon. Paddle in the Junebug 1 voyageur canoe on a route that brings you through the Confluence and the Chain of Rocks. Enjoy a stop on Mosenthein Island for a delicious dinner with a view of the rising moon and the Arch. This is BMA’s most popular trip.

When: Saturday, September 10, Sunday, September 11, Monday September 12.

Route: Columbia Bottoms Boat Ramp to N. Riverfront Park

Length of Trip: 14 miles, Meet at 4 PM Return 11 PM

Cost: $90 per person including Guiding and Outfitting, Food Service, Shuttle


River Cleanups

This is also the tenth anniversary of our friends, Missouri River Relief. They are planning for a month of river cleanups in October on the Missouri River. Are you looking for a way to give something back to the Rivers that connect us all. Join BMA for some Trash Bashing by Canoe. Contact us for the schedule and to reserve your spot.

Some news of note off the web:

River flooding gives birth to tiny island in West Bay

Roundup commonly found in Mississippi River watershed

Nation needs a fresh view of its rivers

From the Bob Corritore Blues Newsletter:

RIP Honeyboy Edwards - June 28, 1915 to August 29, 2011.

The legendary Delta blues artist Honeyboy Edwards passed away peacefully at his Chicago home at 3am this morning. He was 96. Honeyboy had formally retired earlier this year, due to a weakened state of health that did not allow him to tour. He is well known as a pioneer of Delta Blues, who made pre-WWII recordings. Honeyboy was a close associate of Robert Johnson, and the man who traveled from the south to bring Little Walter to Chicago for the first time. Born in Shaw, Mississippi in 1915, Honeyboy left home at age 14 to travel and perform with Big Joe Williams, which became the early model of his life's activities. Honeyboy's wonderful recording career started in 1942 when famed folklorist Alan Lomax recorded him in Clarksdale Mississippi for the Library of Congress. His prolific recording career boasts of releases for many labels over many years; ARC, Sun Records, Chess, Folkways, Trix, Testament, Evidence, Roots, Blue Suit, Blue Horizon, Genes, Blue Shoe, APO, Wolf, and of course the Earwig Record Label. He has received 2 Grammy Awards, 2 BMAs (Blues Music Awards), has been inducted in the Blues Hall Of Fame, received a fellowship from The National Endowment for the Arts, and won a KBA (Keeping The Blues Alive Award) in the literature category for his brilliant biography The World Don't Owe Me Nothing. His performances and recollections have provided us a window into the past. One must mention Honeyboy's long association with Earwig Music label chief Michael Frank. The two met in 1972 and Michael would grow into the role of Honeyboy's manager, harmonica player, and traveling companion. Michael has done so much to guide Honeyboy's career, and we pray for his strength during this time of grieving. Visitation will be 2 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept 1, at the McCullough Funeral Home, 851 E. 75th Street, Chicago, IL 60619. There will be an open mike between 7 and 9pm for remembrances from friends and fans. A friends-and-fans gathering will begin at 8 p.m. at Lee’s Unleaded Blues, 7401 S. Chicago Ave. Services will be private on Friday. In lieu of flowers, it is requested that donations be made to the National Blues Museum. Honeyboy's charm, wit and musical brilliance will leave a gap in the blues, never to be filled. The deep blues emotion that poured out of Honeyboy Edwards in each performance has left a lasting impression on the blues world. Thank you Honeyboy for the blessing of knowing you.

To hear Honeyboy Edwards 1942 Library of Congress recording of "Spread My Raincoat Down" click

To hear Honeyboy's 1951 recording of "Who May Your Regular Be" click

To hear Honeyboy's 1951 recording of "Build A Cave click

To see Honeyboy in the 2004 documentary film,Lightnin' In A Bottle, click here

To see a photo page that we put together to honor Honeyboy Edwards, click

What is the King Biscuit Blues Festival?


The King Biscuit Blues Festival, is one of the nation’s foremost showcases of blues music. Held for three days annually in October, tens of thousands of blues enthusiasts converge on historic downtown Helena, Arkansas to hear stirring and uplifting performances of an American art form on the banks of the Mississippi River.

As the home of “King Biscuit Time,” the longest running radio show ever, Helena became legendary in the Delta. Sonny Boy Williamson and other musicians played live on KFFA every weekday, pausing for King Biscuit Flour commercials and announcements of their next nighttime performances.

Jim O’Neal, the editor of Living Blues Magazine at the time and an authority on blues history, said, “The King Biscuit hour was the thing that really crystallized blues music in this area. Muddy Water and B.B. King would come home from working in the fields every day just to listen to the King Biscuit hour.

In an interview with The Daily World in October of 1986, harmonica wizard James Cotton expressed the feelings of many Delta blues musicians who chose to “come home” to Helena for the first King Biscuit Blues Festival. From original King Biscuit Time artists such as Robert Jr. Lockwood and Pinetop Perkins, to younger performers such as Anson Funderburgh, a wide range of blues stars were thrilled to be a part of Helena’s celebration of its musical roots.

Artists, too, remember a time – the 1940’s and 1950’s – when the town was filled with music.

Pinetop Perkins, a King Biscuit regular, said in the Daily World that 1940s Helena “aint’ nothin like it is now. I used to play all night long at a club called the Hole in the Wall. We got paid $3 a night plus all the whiskey we could drink. We’d play all night and then go home and sleep until it was time to play again. Those were the days.”

But by the mid-1980s, Helena had changed from a jumping town to a community in danger of dying. Businesses were closing and people realized the downtown area was decaying, but no one knew what to do to save it.

Experienced Main Street directors recommended community festivals to get local people back to town and, at the same time, promote tourism. The group, which would later form the Sonny Boy Blues Society, became the core of the first King Biscuit Blues Festival planning committee.

Helena’s musical heritage was largely unknown even to hardcore blues fans. The King Biscuit Blues Festival was an effort by local blues lovers to establish Helena’s rightful place in the Delta’s musical history.

The King Biscuit Blues Festival did not run into any problems until 1995 when the festival became the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival.

It wasn’t until the festival’s 25th Anniversary that Executive Director Munnie Jordan and her supporters began to look into getting the King Biscuit name back, and they finally discovered that its current owner is Wolfgang’s Vault, a vast archive of live music performances and recordings in San Francisco that includes the King Biscuit Flower Hour.

Jordan says that as soon as Wolfgang’s Vault understood the history of the blues festival in Helena, they allowed the King Biscuit name to be used again.

So the 2011 Festival will again be the King Biscuit Blues Festival.

From Colton Cockrum, Ed.D.

Assistant Director, Hardin Honors Program

University of Memphis


I wanted you to know about an effort in this city to restore McKellar Lake. Unfortunately, close to three hundred square miles of watershed flow into Nonconnah Creek and ultimately into McKellar Lake. Therefore, most of the trash you see on the streets of Memphis and its suburbs ends up in our waterways. We are planning monthly clean-ups of McKellar, with our next one being next weekend. If you are free and would like to help, we could seriously use you! At our last clean-up we pulled away close to 2,240 pounds of recycling.

If this sounds like something you are interested in, just contact me and I’ll put you on our volunteer list.

McKellar Lake Clean-up

Sept 10th, 8-10 a.m.

We are a group of Memphians (primarily Univ of Memphis students) who are committed to cleaning up McKellar Lake and the Mississippi River. Having worked with Chad Pregracke and Living Lands and Waters in the past, we are continuing restoration efforts in this area in preparation for their return. These clean-ups will be held monthly (see below). At our last clean-up, 35 people spent two hours pulling 1240 pounds of plastic/styrofoam and 1000 pounds of aluminum/glass from the banks of McKellar….and the great thing is that we had it all recycled!

If you or your group would like to attend, e-mail me back with an estimation of a total number of volunteers.

More information will be sent next week!

Colton Cockrum, Ed.D.

Assistant Director, Hardin Honors Program

University of Memphis