The 36th Annual King Biscuit Invites You to Come on Home

Mark your calendar for the dates October 4th-7th for the start of a four-day wang-dang-doodle that proclaims the blues alive and well. If there was any doubt that blues has regained its sea legs in the post pandemic, the 36th annual King Biscuit Blues Festival’s lineup simply underlines the obvious. In a world where truth has become a rare and treasured commodity, blues is “THE TRUTH” as the late blues maestro Willie Dixon used to say. 

You want legends and legacy? Saturday night headliner is Louisiana Wetlands firebrand Tab Benoit, backed by The Big Easy’s Dirty Dozen Brass Band. This GRAMMY®-nominated singer, songwriter and guitarist is home-grown, but his dexterity on guitar is needle sharp, and his rapport with an audience is nothing less impressive than what I’d expect from an Apollo Theater crowd  on a hot Saturday night in Harlem. It’s the kind of bonding that eliminates the distance between the stage and the fans. 

Friday’s headliner offers the primal screams of Chicago South Side veteran Nick Moss and his very electric band. His music  combines postwar electric sounds in the Chess tradition with hard-rocking contemporary blues. If you like big city blues done with pinpoint precision and a hard edge, this is as good as it gets. 

Thursday headliner Ruthie Foster is the winner of seven Blues Music Awards and has been GRAMMY-nominated three times for Best Blues Album. “I’m not just singing the blues, I’m singing my own story,” says this singer whose repertoire covers gospel,  blues, jazz, folk, and soul. When she played the Biscuit in 2015, she told me it felt like home. Her music is “my story as a woman  that’s grown up with gospel music. It’s really all these different types of genres being raised in Texas. I look at music as in the  beginning; it really was a kind of a healing for me in a lotta ways.”  

In its hallowed history, The Biscuit has created its own legends on the banks of the Mississippi with perennial favorites like Memphis veteran Reba Russell whose credits include recording with U2 and a personal endorsement from the late Rufus  “Walkin’ My Dog” Thomas. 

A Texas tornado on strings, Anson Funderburgh is the only artist to have appeared at all 30-something years of The Biscuit. This Texas jump blues guitarist learned his chops from the likes of Freddie King, Jimmy Reed and Albert Collins, when these great  bluesmen were passing through Dallas-area clubs. Blues Revue has credited him with “making sure the songs both breathe and burn.” Guitar Player Magazine says “None of the younger crop of blues guitarist come close as Anson does to achieving the classic Stratocaster-tone defined by Otis Rush in the ‘50’s and Magic Sam in the ‘60’s.” Paul Thorn is an Americana Everyman that has returned every year since 2010 when he opened for B.B. King to a standing ova tion from a mesmerized crowd that wouldn’t let him off the stage. 

The debate rages on as to whether Helena, Arkansas, is THE home of Delta blues, but this year’s Biscuit will present its case with artists both from the area and from around the world who come home for their “family reunion,” including Kenny Neal with special guest Billy Branch, John Nemeth & The Love Light Orchestra, Sonny Landreth, The Robert Kimbrough, Sr. Blues Connection, and Bobby Rush’s own hoochie mama Mizz Lowe.  

If you’ve passed the biscuit with music’s friendly ghosts at this Mississippi riverbank homeland, you’ll be happy to hear that many artists who consider their Biscuit appearances to be among their most-treasured are on this year’s packed schedule:  Sonny Landreth, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith with Bob Stroger & Bob Margolin. 

Several veterans of Chicago’s South and West Side clubs add an extra kick to the proceedings: James “Taildragger” Jones  whose moniker reflects his spot-on Howlin’ Wolf renditions, the almost angelic vocals of Jimmy Burns, and the steamy sounds  of John Primer, whose six-decade career includes work with legends Junior Wells, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, and Magic Slim. 

Nearly all the artists who perform here tell me that passing the biscuit on the hallowed stages Arkansas’s heritage event brings  out the best in them. There’s their A game and then there’s King Biscuit where giving 100 percent is just the starting line. “I’ve  been a lot of places,” says Reba Russell, “but this place is where all this music was born, and kept going, and appreciated in  spite of good times or bad times. And that’s kinda what my song ‘Heaven Came to Helena’ is about.” 

The Biscuit also features a Tour da Delta Bike Ride, Flour Power 5K Run, Blues Symposium and much more. For tickets, visit 


(Gospel Stage – Saturday to be revealed at a later date) 


Sonny Boy Williamson Main Stage 

Bubba Sullivan Memorial Jam – 6:00 pm until 


Sonny Boy Williamson Main Stage 

11:00/11:50 Battle of The Bands Winner 12:00/12:50 Wampus Cats 

1:10/2:15 Captain Jack Watson  

2:35/3:40 Sterling Billingsley Band  

4:00/5:10 Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials  5:30/6:40 Kenny Neal with Billy Branch  7:00/8:10 John Nemeth & The Love Light Orchestra  8:30/Until Ruthie Foster  


Bit-O-Blues Stage 

9:00/9:30 Six String Andrew  

9:45/10:15 Harrell “Young Rell” Davenport  10:30/11:15 The Spa City Youngblood’s of Hot Springs 11:30/Until Pinetop Perkins Boogie Woogie   Workshop Showcase 

CeDell Davis Memorial Stage 

2:00/2:45 Rachel Ammons  

3:00/3:45 Ben Levine  

4:00/4:45 Jeron Paxton  

5:00/5:45 C W Gatlin  

6:00/6:45 Skeet Rogers & Inner City Blues Band  7:00/7:45 Omar Coleman  

8:00/9:00 Sonny Green 


Lockwood Stackhouse Stage 

12:00/12:45 Robert Hill  

1:00/1:45 Smokehouse, Mamie Porter &   The Gutbucket Blues Band  2:00/2:45 Mary Lane  

3:00/3:45 James “Taildragger” Jones  4:00/4:45 Demetria Taylor  

5:00/5:45 Candice Ivory  

6:00/6:45 Robert Finley  

7:00/8:00 Jimbo Mathus Band  

Sonny Boy Williamson Main Stage 

12:00/12:55 D’Kerin Harrell  

1:10/2:10 Dylan Triplett  

2:30/3:40 Carl Weathersby  

4:00/5:10 Reba Russell Band  5:35/6:45 Andy T Band  

7:10/8:20 Paul Thorn Band  

8:45/Until Nick Moss Band 


CeDell Davis Memorial Stage 

1:00/1:45 Bill Abel  

2:00/2:45 Billy Davis Rhythm Machine  3:00/3:45 Kent Burnside  

4:00/4:45 Spoonfed Blues feat.  

 Mississippi Spoonman  

5:00/5:45 Robert Kimbrough, Sr. Blues Connection  6:00/6:45 Twice As Good  

7:00/7:45 Mizz Lowe  

8:00/9:00 Tia Carroll  

Lockwood Stackhouse Stage 

12:00/12:45 Aberdeen Slim  

1:00/1:45 Bill “Howl-N-Mad” Perry Tribute  2:00/2:45 Miss Renee  

3:00/3:45 Jamiah Rogers  

4:00/4:45 Memphissippi Sounds  

5:00/5:45 Jimmy Burns  

6:00/6:45 Lady Bianca  

7:00/8:00 John Primer 

Sonny Boy Williamson Main Stage 

12:00/12:55 Back Bone Blues Band  

1:10/2:15 Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith with   Bob Stroger & Bob Margolin  2:35/3:40 Chris O’Leary  

4:00/5:10 Kirk Fletcher  

5:30/6:35 Anson Funderburgh  

6:55/8:10 Sonny Landreth  

8:40/Until Tab Benoit & The Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Buy 2023 Tickets

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