Helena’s blues heritage is concentrated in its historic downtown, framed fittingly by the Mississippi River. Start at the Delta Cultural Center, where road cases repurposed as listening stations sample Mississippi Delta musicians like Sonny Boy Williamson. For the maximum experience, time your visit to the Center with a live broadcast of the King Biscuit Time radio show, weekdays at 12:15 p.m. This longest-running daily radio show in the U.S. (circa 1941) has been hosted by Blues Hall of Famer “Sunshine” Sonny Payne since 1951. It’s also the show bluesmen like Muddy Waters and B.B. King have recalled coming in from the fields to listen to.
Annually over Columbus Day weekend, downtown Helena makes way for the King Biscuit Blues Festival. Go for free and ticketed performances (past headliners have spanned Bonnie Raitt to Bobby Rush), a blues symposium and kids’ activities like harmonica lessons and blues storytelling. Between sets, you might find the performers, or a souvenir CD, at a meet-and-greet inside Bubba’s Blues Corner.