Call & Response Symposium
Saturday, October 6, 2012 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the
Malco Theater on Cherry Street in Downtown Helena
Moderator Don Wilcock, Roy Rogers, The Cate Brothers, Fruteland Jackson, Art Tipaldi, and Stacy Jeffress
Moderator Roger Stolle, EB Davis, Rev. John Wilkins, Big George Brock, Reba Russell, and a student from KIPPS chosen for being at the top of his class
The star-studded blues lineup taking part in the Second Annual Call and Response Blues Symposium at the 27th annual King Biscuit Blues Festival includes eight-time Grammy-nominated performer and producer Roy Rogers, Chicago’s premiere Blues in the Schools veteran Fruteland Jackson, Clarksdale native Big George Brock, and “the real queen of Memphis” Reba Russell. The two-hour special event begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, October 6th at the historic Malco Theatre in downtown Helena, Arkansas.
According to King Biscuit Blues Festival executive director Munnie Jordan, the symposium promises to continue the momentum started at last year’s inaugural forum dedicated to examining the history and personalities behind the blues. “Last year we set the bar high with an energized two-hour discussion that builds on the world-famous King Biscuit reputation. We attracted a large first time audience and promise to build on that momentum. This event is every bit as fascinating and essential as our nightly headliners. Blues fans owe it to themselves to check this out. The truth is: If blues could talk, it would sound a lot like this."
"We're not putting on a blues symposium of experts interviewing experts, explained award-winning blues journalist Don Wilcock, an event organizer and moderator. “We're putting on a conversational blues festival, really, where legendary blues performers do most of the talking. Call and Response: The King Biscuit Blues Symposium promises to build on the near mythic reputation of this fabled blues festival with an entourage of performers, journalists and presenters from across the blues spectrum in conversation between themselves and with their audience.”
Keeping the Blues Alive winners and moderators Wilcock and Roger Stolle of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art in Clarksdale will keep the festivities rolling and moderate two consecutive hour-long discussions with audience participation. Blues Revue Editor Art Tipaldi and the blues industry’s most prolific cover story writer Stacy Jeffress will join Wilcock in the first hour. Arkansas’ own favorite sons the Cate Brothers will join in with Roy Rogers and Fruteland Jackson to complete the first session.
Roger Stolle moderates the second hour beginning at 12:00 noon. Big George Brock and Reba Russell will be joined by Memphis native EB Davis who has 19 albums released and whose credits include performing with Rufus Thomas, Wilson Pickett and Ray Charles. Completing the lineup is Reverend John Wilkins, son of gospel-blues great Reverend Robert Wilkins. He released an album for Fat Possum in 2011 and currently serves as pastor for the Hunter’s Chapel Church in Como, Mississippi. A student from KIPPS chosen for being at the top of his class will also join the discussion.
“For more than a quarter century, The King Biscuit Blues Festival has chronicled the rich tapestry of Delta blues,” says Heidi Knochenhauer, the festival’s liaison for community affairs and special events. “Call and Response: The King Biscuit Symposium adds a new dimension to that legacy with historical context.”
The Second Annual King Biscuit Call and Response Blues Symposium
FIRST HOUR 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
Don Wilcock moderator
Don Wilcock is managing editor of The Alternate Root Magazine, senior editor of The Audiophile Voice, consulting editor to Blues Revue and contributing arts writer to two New York Capital Region dailies, The Saratogian and the Troy Record. He is past editor in chief of King Biscuit Time Magazine and past managing editor of the King Biscuit Times Blues Journal. Recipient of the Blues Foundation’s Keeping The Blues Alive in Print Journalism Award, he began writing about blues and underground rock while stationed in Vietnam at U.S. Army Headquarters, Long Binh. He wrote Buddy Guy’s first authorized biography Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues and founded the Northeast Blues Society. He has interviewed more than 4000 artists.
The eight-time Grammy nominated producer and performer Roy Rogers is readying a follow-up release to Translucent Blues. This 2011 Blind Pig CD with Ray Manzarek of The Doors went to number 1 on the American Roots Rock Chart. A master slide guitarist, Rogers spent four years as guitarist/vocalist in John Lee Hooker’s Coast to Coast Band and produced four Hooker recordings including Hooker’s Grammy-winning comeback LP The Healer. Rogers’ 1990 Grammy-nominated film soundtrack The Hot Spot featured Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker and Taj Mahal. He co-wrote Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy-nominated “Gnawin’ On It.”
Fruteland Jackson has been credited with “nearly single-handedly keeping ‘Blues in the Schools’ programs alive in and around Chicago and through much of the Midwest” by the AllMusic Guide. An author, storyteller and oral historian, Fruteland presents his award winning Blues in the Schools programs to some 50,000 students annually in classrooms around the country. He is a three-time Blues Music Award nominee and recipient of both the Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award and the Illinois Arts Council Folk/Ethnic Heritage Award for Blues Education. Blues Revue magazine called his 2003 Electro-Fi CD Blues 2.0 “one of the finest blues albums of this young decade.”
The Cate Brothers
Identical twins Earl and Ernie Cate for almost half a century have represented the country soul sound of the Ozark Mountains area of northwest Arkansas having been mentored by rockabilly icon Ronnie Hawkins. Levon Helm of The Band introduced the brothers to Asylum Records where they recorded their 1976 hit “Union Man” produced by Memphis guitar legend Steve Cropper. The brothers toured in The Band in 1983 and ’84 and performed at both President Bill Clinton’s inaugurations. Still active Arkansas performers, they have been called “masters of a kind of rhythmic eclecticism that is native to the cultural territory” by the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture.
Art Tipaldi is the Editor for Blues Revue, the largest blues magazine in the world. A teacher for 15 years, Tipaldi pioneered a course that combines African-American literature and the blues. He wrote the English curriculum for the PBS series on the blues. He was elected to the Blues Foundation’s Board of Directors from 1995 – 2008 and has served since 2003 as the Chairman for the Blues Foundation’s Keeping The Blues Alive Award. He himself is a winner of this award. This is Art’s second appearance at the King Biscuit Call and Response Symposium.
Stacy Jeffress is a contributing editor to both BluesWax and AmericanBluesScene.com. She is a contributing writer to both The Alternate Root Magazine and Blues Revue. She originally found her niche in profiling blues artists for the Kansas City Blues Society’s Blues News. Some of the people she has interviewed include Ronnie Baker Brooks, Trampled Under Foot, Watermelon Slim, Otis Taylor (named Blues Wax 2009 interview of the year), Candye Kane, Bryan Lee, Buddy Flett, and Little Miss Higgins. Calling upon her knowledge as an attorney in the health field, she wrote a series on health care and blues artists for BluesWax that has featured Curtis Salgado and the late Robin Rogers.
SECOND HOUR 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.
Roger Stolle, moderator
Roger Stolle owns Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, Inc. – an award-winning blues store in historic Clarksdale, Mississippi. He is a Blues Revue magazine columnist, Sirius-XM Bluesville Radio correspondent, Juke Joint Festival co-founder, Clarksdale Film Festival co-founder, Hidden History of Mississippi Blues author, and co-producer of the blues music films like Hard Times, M for Mississippi and We Juke Up in Here. Stolle was educated at the University of Cincinnati and worked for over a decade in the retail and corporate marketing world prior to entering the blues music business. Official web site at cathead.biz.
Big George Brock
Big George Brock was born in 1932, and grew up at Flower’s Plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi – where he picked cotton, played blues and boxed. One Christmas, his father gave him and his brothers harmonicas. "They tore theirs up. I kept mine," Brock says. Brock played in local bands and enjoyed area legends like Sonny Boy Williamson II. After relocating to St. Louis, Brock owned several blues clubs. Through the decades, he has shared stage or studio with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Albert King and others. In 2005, Brock started a “comeback” that has taken him around the globe.
EB Davis was born in 1945 in the Delta town of Elaine, Arkansas, and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. First exposed to gospel music, in his pre-teen years he began sneaking to a neighbor’s house to hear an old bluesman play. At fourteen, his family relocated to Memphis where he began hanging out on Beale Street, hearing blues legends Bobby Bland, B.B. King, Junior Parker and Albert King. After moving to New York in the ’60s, Davis’ performed with Rufus Thomas, Wilson Pickett, Ray Charles, and others. Later, he moved to Germany. Today, he has more than 19 recordings to his name.
Reba Russell was born in 1958 and has been called “the real Queen of Memphis.” Russell has received three Premiere Vocalist Awards plus Blues Blast, Blues Music and other award nominations. In addition to her half dozen albums, she has recorded with B.B. King, Lucero, Earl Thomas, Johnny Rawls, Jim Dickinson, Jimmy Thackery, Tracy Nelson, Bernard Allison, Cate Brothers and even U2. During her 25 years of performing, she has sung with B.B. King, Ringo Starr, Maria Muldaur, Debbie Davies, Debra Coleman and many more. Russell released a new album this year and performs regularly at King Biscuit Blues Festival.
Reverend John Wilkins
Reverend John Wilkins was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1943 – the son of Mississippi-born gospel-blues great Reverend Robert Wilkins (who’s best known for his song “Prodigal Son” a.k.a. “That’s No Way To Get Along” – covered by the Rolling Stones.) John Wilkins grew up in the city, but enjoyed years of Mississippi Hill Country blues music at family parties just over the state line. Along the way, he picked up much of his father's gospel and country blues style. He released an album for Fat Possum in 2011 and currently serves as pastor for the Hunter’s Chapel Church in Como, Mississippi.