DCC Blues Symposium



Helena, AR - The Delta Cultural Center will present “Broadcasting the Blues - A Panel Discussion on Blues Radio in the Delta” on Saturday, October 6, 2001. The event will be held at the Delta Cultural Center’s Visitors Center, located at 141 Cherry Street in historic downtown Helena, Arkansas, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The panel discussion, a production of the Delta Cultural Center’s Delta Music Documentation Project, is free and open to the public. The panel discussion will focus on the impact of radio stations like Helena’s KFFA, West Memphis’ KWEM, Clarksdale’s WROX and Memphis’ WDIA, when those stations in the 1940s and 1950s began to broadcast live and recorded blues by area musicians - many of who, like Sonny Boy Williamson and B.B. King, went on to become giants in the blues field. The greater exposure of blues over the airwaves during this time not only promoted Delta blues but also helped give rise to the blues-derived rockabilly music of that era.

Panelists will be scholars Louis Cantor and Peter Aschoff and musician Paul Burlison.

Louis Cantor, a professor emeritus of history at Indiana University, is a Memphis native who worked at WDIA in his youth and has written “Wheelin’ on Beale,” the definitive work on WDIA, the nation’s first all-black radio station.


Peter Aschoff, an instructor in anthropology and Afro-American Studies at the University of Mississippi and contributing writer to Living Blues Magazine, is an expert on Delta blues in all its cultural and social contexts. He will focus on the impact of KFFA’s legendary “King Biscuit Time” blues program.

Paul Burlison, a pioneer rockabilly guitarist with Johnny Burnette and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio, regularly performed live on KWEM, playing both on country music shows and on Howlin’ Wolf’s blues program in the early 1950s. He will bring a Delta musician’s perspective to the discussion.

The panel will be moderated by Steve Hoffman, a blues researcher who currently serves as a consultant to the Delta Cultural Center.

The event is being scheduled during the 16th annual King Biscuit Blues Festival, a time when thousands of blues fans from around the region, the nation, and the world flock to Helena for three days and nights of blues music. The Delta Cultural Center is a major partner in this year’s festival, and the panel is just one of a series of events scheduled at the Delta Cultural Center, a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

For further information on the panel, contact Steve Hoffman at (301) 270-8520 or by e-mail at radiopanel@goodnote.com. For more information about other Delta Cultural Center events during this year’s King Biscuit Blues Festival, contact the museum at (870) 338-4350 or (800) 358-0972.

The Delta Cultural Center shares the vision of all six agencies of the Department of Arkansas Heritage--to preserve and promote Arkansas heritage as a source of pride and satisfaction. Other agencies within the department are the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Arkansas Arts Council and the Natural Heritage Commission.

For more information
Kimberly Williams (870) 338-4361
After hours (870) 295-5075