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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

Quapaw Canoe Company

LMRD Vol 7 No 10 (October 2011)

Dedicated in the memory of Bob Cassilly, sculptor, dreamer, City Museum founder, most recent in a long line of mad geniuses from river city St. Louis. Born Robert James Cassilly, Jr., Nov 9, 1949 to Sept 24, 2011

Pass Da Biscuits

We’re gearing up for the annual King Biscuit Festival here... Looks like a beautiful weekend in the making! We’ll have the newly completed KIPP dugout canoe on display, and 1Mississippi in action with our friends from the Mississippi River Corridor - Tennessee. Also: The Helena Harbor Ferry will be in operation for those who want to hop a quick ride from the boardwalk/campground to main stage/Cherry Street (and back), and guided tours of Buck Island are available upon demand...besides the usual canoe & kayak and SUP rentals. Helena is the ideal introduction to the Mississippi River.

Whew! Too much going on in one weekend: Phatwater Challenge in Natchez, Deer & Wildlife Festival in Woodville. After months of heat & humidity (Good Lord thank-you!) its finally cooled down, and oooh-whee it feels nice to get outside and celebrate the approach of Fall with others like-minded. Several weeks ago the Bear Dancers cleared the air with the Autumnal Equinox Full Harvest Moon Bear Dance on Buck Island (including my daughter Emma Lou and the Mighty Quapaws), and yes wanbli bald eagle made his appearance, along with flocks of boisterous geese, and a few busy beaver, some curious river otters, sneaky turtles, quick least terns and also migrating white pelicans & swallows & monarchs -- and others. We weren’t the only ones in celebration!

By the way, did you see the Chuck Dovish Exploring Arkansas piece aired on Monday Oct 3rd? If this doesn’t inspire you to visit Helena nothing will. You can view it on YouTube, here's the link:

Voyageur Canoe Excursion - Exploring Arkansas (AETN)

Chuck Dovish gave the river & the Arkansas Delta great exposure with this lovely lyrical 11 minute piece. While you’re at it, go see what Helena has added to its prestigious location on the Mississippi, interpretive signage along the river park & boardwalk:

Helena River Park -

Exploring Arkansas (AETN)

King Biscuit: Canoe Company Helena is located in between 2 stages at 411 Ohio Street, Rising Biscuit Stage and the Lockwood-Stackhouse Stage. See below for lineup on our two neighboring stages, or go to for complete lineup -- also where you can see our location on the festival website map -- on Ohio street in between the Rising Biscuit Stage and the Lockwood-Stackhouse Stage.

Lockwood-Stackhouse Stage

Friday, October 7th

Andy Coats

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Lil Biscuit Band featuring Phillip Stackhouse

1:20 p.m. - 2:20 p.m.

Spoonfed Blues featuring Mississippi Spoonman

2:40 p.m. - 3:40 p.m.

Gwen White

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Wampus Cats

5:30 p.m. - 6:40 p.m.

Don McMinn

7:00 p.m. - 8:10 p.m.

Dexter Allen

8:30 p.m. - 9:40 p.m.

Bobby Rush

10:00 p.m. 11:15 p.m.

Saturday, October 8th

T-Model Ford

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Ben Wiley Payton

1:20 p.m. - 2:20 p.m

Lonnie Shields

2:40 p.m. - 3:40 p.m.

Moreland & Arbuckle

4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Blind Mississippi Morris & The Pocket Rockets

5:30 p.m. - 6:40 p.m.

Earnest “Guitar” Roy

7:00 p.m. - 8:10 p.m.

Cedric Burnside

8:30 p.m. - 9:40 p.m.

Rising Biscuit Stage

Friday, October 7th


2:00 p.m.

Cleome Boya

3:00 p.m.

Cee Cee James

4:00 p.m.

Heather Cross

5:00 p.m.

Sean Apple & The All Night Long Blues Band

6:00 p.m.

Birthright Blues Project

7:00 p.m.

Paul Thomas

8:00 p.m.

Young Guns

9:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 8th

Keith "Kid" Harden

1:00 p.m.

Ed Bowman and The Rock City Players

2:00 p.m.

Coyote Bill

3:00 p.m.

Lee Pons

4:00 p.m.

Clover Blue

5:00 p.m.

The Bobby Lawson Band (David Bennett)

6:00 p.m.

Grace Askey & The Black Market Blues

7:00 p.m.

Charlotte Taylor

8:00 p.m.

Note: The Rising Biscuit Stage, formerly known as the Emerging Artist Stage, was started a few years ago to give young artists as well as older artists an opportunity to play on the King Biscuit Blues Festival Stage. This is not a paid event but will provide professional stage sound and back line as well as a great opportunity to play.

If you would like to participate please contact Sterling Billingsley.

Quapaw Canoe Company: Upcoming Events Fall 2011

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. Organized by U of Memphis. Mighty Quapaws in assistance. If you missed it, try again on Sat Nov 12th 10am-12noon. 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! Camping at the Helena River Park. 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

Chickasaw Bluff Daytrip -- A One Day adventure organized by the Mississippi River Corridor -- Tennessee. Coming into Memphis down the Mississippi River is a spectacular experience! Go to for more information.

Wed-Thurs Oct 19-20

Hydrokinetics and Recreation Workshop at Mud Island Riverpark in Memphis, Tennessee -- hosted by Hydropower Reform Coalition and the National Park Service. For more info go to: is no fee to participate in the workshop. The workshop is a great opportunity to discuss issues related to recreation, and open communication among hydrokinetic energy developers, utilities, consultants, environmental groups, recreation users groups, and government agencies (at local, state, and federal levels). For more info please send email to Rupak Thapaliya (American Rivers).

HISTORY: 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.