But the explanation did give us a good destination for our final stop on our Blues Trail tour. Helena has played a huge role in the history of The Blues, as a town where many of the musicians came to play, but mostly as the place where Blues found a home on the radio. (click here to see our full story on the Mississippi Blues Trail!)
Back in 1941, on KFFA, King Biscuit Time, named for the sponsor King Biscuit Flour, began its run and has since become the radio show with the largest number of broadcasts ever. Everyday at 12:15, to coincide with worker’s lunch breaks, The Blues is still sent out across The Delta.
At first this was the only station anywhere playing live Blues, with Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Lockwood, Jr. performing in the studio, and what was known at the time as race records, but the show’s popularity inspired other stations to follow.
These days the show is broadcast from a studio in The Delta Cultural Center, so that the public can come in and watch. We made sure to be there a few minutes early and when we arrived “Sunshine” Sonny Payne was already behind the mic getting ready, just as he has done for over sixty years.
He was more than cordial and happy to greet us and answered questions from all of the visitors. Then with the signature phrase “pass the biscuits, ’cause its King Biscuit Time!” the 16,405th show was underway.
Figuring there was no way we were going to top that as a finale to our Blues Trail tour, we knew it was time to head even farther down south to dodge the cold up north.
Bonus Time: The markers for Helena, Rosedale and Lula!
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
YOUR TURN: Are you a blues fan? Did you learn anything new? Is this a roadtrip you’d consider taking?