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Blues festival highlights

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Kim Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Tab Benoit, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Jimmy Thackery, the Cate Brothers and Reba Russell and Super Chikan’ will headline the 2006 Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival in Helena Oct. 5-7.

More than 60 acts will be playing during the three days of the free festival.

This year’s festival will feature more bands from the ABHF’s Emerging Artists competitions in Little Rock, Boston and St. Louis. Dan Sanchez and the Kings of Pleasure, last year’s Emerging Artist winner, returns for a main stage appearance on Thursday.

The music is spread out over three stages between the river levee and Cherry Street in Helena.

Parking, as a blues song might say, can be a bitch during the weekend. Expect to leave your car several blocks west of the festival. Plenty of barbecue, beer and other food vendors will be all around the festival perimeter.

Here’s the schedule:





THURSDAY

SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON MAIN STAGE

Noon-1:55 p.m. 2006 Emerging Artists

2-2:25 p.m. Erma Whiteside

2:35–3:10 p.m.
Dan Sanchez and The Kings of Pleasure, 2005 Emerging Artist winner

3:25–4 p.m.
West Bank Mike Band, SBBS Battle of the Bands winner

4:20–5:25 p.m. Joey Gilmore, IBC winner

5:45–6:55 p.m. Eric “Scrappy” Hughes

7:15–8:30 p.m. The Bluebirds

8:50–10:05 p.m. Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone

10:30–11:45 p.m. Tab Benoit

FRIDAY

SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON MAIN STAGE

Noon-1 p.m. Richard Johnston

1:15–2:20 p.m. Sweet Betty

2:35–3:45 p.m.
Sam Carr and The Delta Jukes with Dave Riley

4:00–5:10 p.m. Paul Delay Band

5:30–6:40 p.m.
Pinetop Perkins & Bob Margolin

7:00–8:15 p.m. Charles Wilson

8:45–10 p.m.
Eddie Shaw and The Wolfgang

10:30–11:45 p.m.
Jimmy Thackery and The Cate Brothers with Reba Russell

HOUSTON STACKHOUSE ACOUSTIC STAGE

Noon-1 p.m. Bill Abel

1:20–2:20 p.m. Waymon Meeks

2:40–3:40 p.m. Chris Cotton

4-5 p.m. Sid Selvidge

ROBERT LOCKWOOD JR. HERITAGE STAGE

5:30–6:40 p.m. Billy Gibson Band

7–8:10 p.m. Dave Riley

8:30–9:40 p.m. The Fieldstones

10-11:15 p.m. Willie “Big Eyes” Smith

SATURDAY

SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON MAIN STAGE

Noon-1 p.m. Kenny Brown Band

1:15–2:25 p.m.
Watermelon Slim & The Workers

2:40–3:50 p.m. Larry Garner

4:10–5:20 p.m. Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials

5:35–6:50 p.m. Robert Lockwood Jr.

7:05–8:20 p.m. Michael Burks

8:45–10 p.m. Phillip Walker

10:30–11:45 p.m.
The Fabulous Thunderbirds

HOUSTON STACKHOUSE ACOUSTIC STAGE

Noon-1 p.m. Joe Price

1:20–2:20 p.m. Grayson Capps

2:40–3:40 p.m. David Jacob-Strain

4-5 p.m. Robert “Wolfman” Belfour

ROBERT LOCKWOOD, JR. HERITAGE STAGE

5:30–6:40 p.m. Mississippi Heat

7:00–8:10 p.m. Texas Johnny Brown

8:30–9:40 p.m.
The Daddy Mack Blues Band with Billy Gibson

10–11:15 p.m Super Chikan



Where to eat and sleep in Helena

Truth of the matter is, Helena doesn’t have a lot of beds for the visitors to its annual Blues and Heritage Festival, and if you haven’t made your plans for this year’s festival by now, time is running short. Also, you might want to pack some of your meals, but definitely don’t miss out on the Delta ’cue that will be smoking from home-made smokers, and there are plenty of carnival/festival vendors with the typical food items. Beer is only $2 at the festival.

Here’s a few suggestions for lodging and/or eating:

Fireman’s Campground Park. This is for the folks who want to camp up to three nights and four days at the festival. A $40 pass gets you in for the entire festival, and proceeds go to the Helena Fire Department. No reservations are needed; it’s first-come first-served. You’re a few short steps away from the stages, and the party really gets started in the campground when the regular music schedule ends, with blues jams breaking out all over. Bring your guitar and a packed cooler.

Isle of Capri Casino, Lula, Miss., It’s only 15 to 20 minutes or so from the festival site, and there is plenty of activity at the casino when the music’s cooled down.

Mama Bullock of Bullock’s Cafe reportedly cooks up the best Southern soul food in Helena. It’s downtown very close to the festival. It’s self-serve from the pots that Mama Bullock puts out each day.

Belle Clark Bed & Breakfast, Clarksdale, Miss. Only four rooms here, but on any trip into blues country, consider this fine Southern establishment, with a fantastic Southern-style breakfast awaiting you in the morning. Another sleepover spot in Clarksdale is the Hobson Shack-Up Inn, 15 old farm rooms converted into a motel with a blues flavor. While in Clarksdale, check out the Delta Blues Museum, Ground Zero Blues Club and other must-see stops for the true blues fan. And also consider dining at Madidi, the restaurant in Clarksdale owned by actor Morgan Freeman (he also owns Ground Zero). The typical cost of this trip is in the $300 to $500 range with a bed-and-breakfast stay and dinner at Madidi, but it’s well worth it. Clarksdale is about a half hour from Helena on Highways 49/61. Also make sure to visit the legendary “crossroads” in town where Robert J

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