Call & Response Symposium

This information pertains to the 2021 festival. Check back for 2022 updates.

King Biscuit Blues Festival presents 10th annual “Call and Response: Blues Symposium” in historic Helena, Arkansas

Join two blues journalism and preservation legends, Roger Stolle and Don Wilcock, for their tenth annual Call and Response Blues Symposium. They moderate two one-hour-long “back fence” conversations with legendary blues musicians and personalities who are some of the most colorful people on today’s vibrant blues scene. “Come on home” to this lively confab that’s become a colorful highlight of the festival.

WHERE: Malco Theater, Cherry St., Helena, Arkansas

WHEN: Saturday, October 9th (Session 1: 10:00am-11:00am, Session 2: 11:00am-12:015pm)



Part One – 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. 

Moderator: Roger Stolle
Stolle’s Cat Head is currently celebrating 19 years as “Mississippi’s blues store” in historic downtown Clarksdale. He is a Blues Music Magazine and Twoj Blues columnist, Juke Joint Festival co-founder, author of Hidden History of Mississippi Blues and Mississippi Juke Joint Confidential, and co-producer of film projects such as M for Mississippi and Moonshine & Mojo Hands. He is also a Blues Music Award recipient. His free annual Cat Head Mini Blues Fest is Sunday, October 10th.

Sean “Bad” Apple 
Most fans know Apple as a blues player. A few also know he gave blues prodigy Christone “Kingfish” Ingram his first paid gig. Apple was born in Pennsylvania but calls Clarksdale, Mississippi, home. He first visited Mississippi in the 1990s after a PBS documentary featured Bentonia blues. By the 2000s, he was living in Mississippi, learning from legends like RL Boyce and Little Joe Ayers. Today, he owns the Bad Apple Blues Club and organizes the Bad Apple Blues Guitar Workshop & Festival.

Little Willie Farmer
The 65-year-old Duck Hill, Mississippi, native plays blues just the way it was when he was growing up. Born into a musical family, he started playing acoustic guitar early. Later, Farmer bought his first electric guitar with money made from picking cotton. His mix of originals and covers often tips its hat to personal favorites like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. An auto mechanic by day, Farmer plays festivals and clubs when he can, and he’s recorded a handful of acclaimed albums.

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram 
At just 22 years old, Ingram is a young man with an old soul. He’s part of an unbroken chain of Mississippi bluesmen reaching back over 100 years. His debut Kingfish album in 2019 garnered a Grammy nomination and five Blues Music Awards. His follow up, 662, released recently to major fanfare on media outlets like NPR. That week, he sat in at the first clubs he ever played — Red’s and Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale. He’ll tour the U.S. for the rest of this year and Europe in 2022.

Miss Australia “Honeybee” Jones 
At 78-years-old, Jones is a welcome discovery in a traditional Mississippi blues field often dominated by men. She is a guitar player and singer who plays traditional Blues music versus modern R&B or Southern Soul. Born in Flora, Mississippi, to a sharecropping family, Jones taught her younger brother — Paul “Wine” Jones of Fat Possum Records fame — to play guitar. After decades as a crane operator in Indianapolis, Indiana, she moved to Indianola, Mississippi, with her guitar in hand.


Part Two – 11:00 a.m. -12:15 p.m.

Moderator: Don Wilcock
Don Wilcock spent the Pandemic writing his 300-page memoir tentatively titled Even Rock Stars Get The Blues. He began writing about blues 52 years ago as an Army journalist in Vietnam. His authorized biography on Buddy Guy, Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues, was published in three languages. Now out of print, it has become a cult classic among blues aficionados. He has edited several music magazines including The King Biscuit Times and currently is one of the more prolific blues journalists writing for several websites and music magazines including The Blues Music Magazine and American Blues Scene. He is also one of the producers working on a follow-up to their 2012 film Turning Pages.

Wayne Baker Brooks 
Wayne Baker Brooks is a fiery Chicago blues guitarist who has a new single out with Shemekia Copeland, “Down on Bended Knee.” Younger son of the late Lonnie Brooks, he carries on a family road warrior tradition going back seven decades. He appeared in the Blues Brothers 2000 film with his dad, performed at President Clinton’s second inauguration and was the band leader at Buddy Guy’s Kick-Off Ceremony for The Kennedy Center Honors.

Thornetta Davis 
This Detroit dynamo goes over like Bettye LaVette on a Saturday night at the Apollo. She has opened for Bonnie Raitt, Gladys Knight, and Etta James, and sang backing vocals on Bob Seger’s 1991 album, The Fire Inside. She also worked with Kid Rock and Alberta Adams, and has released two full-length solo albums including her latest I Need a Whole Lotta Lovin’. 

Lonnie Shields 
He was born in West Helena in 1956 and played the first 11 King Biscuit Blues Festivals. He met Sonny Boy Williamson as a child and toured with the Jellyroll Kings at 16. His debut album Portrait won Living Blues Critics’ Poll as best album. He attended the 2016 Briggs Farm Blues Festival not to play by to sell his own Delta-style barbecue.

Nora Jean Wallace 
She’s the seventh of 16 children. Her father was a professional blues singer and sharecropper, her mother a gospel singer. Her grandmother ran a juke joint, and her uncle, Henry “Son” Wallace was a blues singer, guitar player and gospel singer. The Blues Music Magazine called her 2021 comeback album Blues Woman “exquisitely primal and deeply personal, balancing her Mississippi Delta roots against a Chicago sensibility that harkens back to Howlin’ Wolf.” It was a Wolf song “Howlin’ for My Darling” she first sang for her siblings at age six.


For more information contact:

Don Wilcock

Roger Stolle

Last modified: August 27, 2021