Helena – The Delta Cultural Center will present its first “Delta Cultural Center Award for Blues Excellence” on Thursday, October 10, 2002, during the King Biscuit Blues Festival.  Tickets for the event are $50 per person.

            The award will be presented each year to an individual or individuals who have strongly influenced blues music in the Arkansas Delta.  The first recipients will be Robert Lockwood, Jr. and Houston Stackhouse (posthumously).  The October 10th event promises to be an exciting night, with many of Lockwood and Stackhouse’s friends stopping by to pay a long-overdue tribute to the legends.

            Born in the Arkansas Delta, Lockwood was one of the original creators of “King Biscuit Time,” the longest-running blues program in the United States.  After leaving the program in 1943, Lockwood traveled throughout the U.S. playing with a variety of blues legends –B.B. King, Little Walter and Muddy Waters.  He eventually made a home in Cleveland, Ohio, where

 he still lives today.  After starting a family in Cleveland, Lockwood seemed to drift away from his musical career.  But his “retirement” wouldn’t last.

Beginning in the 1970s, Lockwood recorded as a soloist and bandleader.  He also traveled throughout the country and overseas, as he does today.  Lockwood continues to be a force in blues music.  He has received numerous awards and accolades – several W.C. Handy awards, induction into the Blues Hall of Fame, a National Heritage Fellowship Award, induction into the Delta Blues Hall of Fame, and two honorary doctorate degrees.  At 87 years young, Robert Lockwood, Jr. seems to be ageless.

            Although Houston Stackhouse was born in Mississippi in 1910, he moved to Helena in 1946 to work with his cousin, Robert Nighthawk.  Nighthawk needed a guitarist for his blues program, “Mother’s Best Flour Hour,” on KFFA Radio. After leaving the program a year later, Stackhouse joined Sonny Boy Williamson on “King Biscuit Time.”  Unlike some other musicians, Stackhouse also held down a “regular job” to support his family.  It was not until the late 1960s that Stackhouse relied solely on music as his profession.  When he moved to Memphis in 1970, Stackhouse’s musical career took off – with the exception of a European tour.  But that dream became a reality in 1976, with a tour organized by the Vienna Blues Fan Club.  After returning from Europe, Stackhouse retired to Crystal Springs, Mississippi.  He died in Helena in 1980.  Many consider Stackhouse one of the most underrated figures in blues music.

Tickets for the Delta Cultural Center’s Award for Blues Excellence event are limited.  For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact the Delta Cultural Center at (870) 338-4350 or (800) 358-0972.

            The event is being scheduled during the 3-day “King Biscuit Blues Festival,” the largest annual free blues festival in the South.  For more information about the festival, contact the King Biscuit Blues Festival at (870) 338-8798.

The Delta Cultural Center shares the vision of all six agencies of the Department of Arkansas Heritage--to preserve and promote Arkansas heritage as a source of pride and satisfaction.  Other agencies within the department are the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Arkansas Arts Council and the Natural Heritage Commission.