Arkansas Delta Music Ride

Arkansas’s Delta has contributed its share of innovators in two genres of popular music – the blues and rockabilly. The blues sound grew in the Deep South in the late 19th century and moved up the Delta. One major early proponent of the blues was KFFA radio in Helena-West Helena. Established in 1941, KFFA provided a venue for African-American blues musicians during its King Biscuit Time show, which aired every day at noon when farmhands took their lunch breaks. Today, King Biscuit Time is the longest-running blues radio show in the country and broadcasts from the Delta Cultural Center in Helena-West Helena. The show opens with a dinner bell clang and these famous words uttered by longtime announcer “Sunshine” Sonny Payne: “Pass the biscuits, it’s King Biscuit Time.”

Johnny Cash, an icon in country music, also made his mark on the rockabilly scene. Cash’s sound and song lyrics were inspired by his humble surroundings, having been raised on one of Roosevelt’s WPA projects at Dyess, called “Colonization Project No. 1.” Today, you can tour the administration building and home at the Historic Dyess Colony Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash, just off AR 14 on 297. The home has been restored to appear just as it would have looked when Johnny was a kid. All tours begin in the administration building where there is a fine collection of photographs, relics and memorabilia. 

Courtesy of Arkansas Motorcycling

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