Friday, October 11, 2013

Day one at the King Biscuit Festival

The last time I went to Helena, Arkansas, there was nothing in downtown except empty buildings. Yesterday, though, the first day of the King Biscuit Festival, there was a buzz about the place, with food and craft stalls on the street and some of the shops back in operation.
It's a blues festival but there wasn't that much blues on show, although there was quite a bit to enjoy. Marcia Ball headlined and did her usual professional mix of rock and roll and New Orleans style boogie woogie. Travis Wammack was good, with some excellent guitar work on Scratchy, the hit he recorded when he was sixteen, and a mixture of soul, blues and rock, including James Govan's Tell You About My Girl and Big Leg Woman In A Short Short Mini Skirt, a hit for Israel Tolbert, both of which he wrote. Also good was Walter Wolfman Washington, who included his usual funk and wolf howls with some excellent soul numbers, including Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City and I Had It All The Time. There was some white blues from the Sterling Billingsley band and some fairly basic rock from Hamilton Loomis. The other name of the day, Sonny Landreth, showed once again what a good guitarist he is, but unfortunately veered towards heavy rock. In all a reasonable day, but one with some fairly boring periods. Back in Clarksdale we had a nightcap at Ground Zero.
Nick Cobban.


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