Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Helena to Host Bluesman


(Originally posted: Oct. 5, 2004)

HELENA – The Delta Cultural Center will host another performance in its 2004 summer concert series at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10 in historic downtown Helena.

Blues greats Sam Carr and Dave Riley will be the featured performers with Steve Cheseporough opening the show. The concert is free and open to the public.

Carr, who is considered by many to be one of the best drummers who ever played the blues, didn't start out playing the drums – he first started playing the guitar but soon moved to drums.

Carr began working with his long-time musical partner Frank Frost (who died in 1999) in the 1950s, serving as the back-up band for Sonny Boy Williamson on King Biscuit Time.

The two musicians later performed together as the Jelly Roll Kings.

Riley began playing guitar at age 9. He began playing gospel music, but after a stint in the military – where he met Jimi Hendrix, Albert King and Howlin' Wolf – he turned to the blues. Riley is no stranger to Helena – he's often a featured performer at the King Biscuit Blues Festival.

The summer concert series is a production of the Delta Cultural Center's Delta Music Documentation Project.

The Delta Cultural Center is a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

An exhibit at the Delta Heritage Cen-ter, called "Helena, Arkansas: Main Street of the Blues," focuses on the important part Helena played in the evolvement of blues music.

For blues musicians in the 1930s and 1940s, Helena was the place to be. Cherry Street and Walnut Street served as Helena's main daytime business district.

But at night, the business was entertainment. With saloons, cafes, billiard halls, gambling parlors and juke joints, Helena was a wide-open river town and blues music filled the air.

The blues was more than just a mixture of sounds and styles; it was also a product of the overall African-American experience, a unique and important expression of a distinct culture.

Although most of the saloons and juke joints are closed and many of the players are long gone, Helena still echoes the blues.

Contemporary artists with ties to Helena – including Ro-bert Lockwood, Willie Smith, Lonnie Shields, James Mor-gan, CeDell Davis and Sam Carr – still record and perform great new music.

"Helena, Arkansas: Main Street of the Blues" features a wide variety of artifacts, many of which have never been displayed for public view.

Photographs, clothing, musical instruments, magazines, posters and recordings are all a part of this three-year exhibit.

You don't want to miss the interactive computer kiosk featuring I Got the Blues quiz, Learn More About the Harmonica, Arkansas Blues Greats, and Find Your Blues Name.

"Helena, Arkansas: Main Street of the Blues is on display at the Delta Cultural Center's Visitors Center through April 2007.

For more information, contact the Delta Cultural Center at (870) 338-4350 or (800) 358-0972. The Delta Cultural Center, part of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, seeks to preserve and promote Arkan-sas' heritage as a source of pride and satisfaction.

Other agencies within the department are the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Arkansas Arts Council and the Natural Heritage Commission.


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