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Blues festivals coming together 

The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson last week reported that the Highway 61 Blues Festival in Leland, Miss., usually held in early June, will be moved this year to Sept. 29, the weekend before the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Oct. 4-6. The annual Holly Ridge Jam, also held in June, will move as well this year, to Sept. 30.

Billy Johnson, founder of the Highway 61 festival, told the Ledger "we'll work with the B.B. King Museum, the Delta Blues Museum and the Delta Cultural Center in Helena to create activities between the festivals. There'll also be blues in the clubs, and hopefully they'll come and see all the Blues Trail markers and really dig into the history of the blues."

Munnie Jordan, executive director of King Biscuit, confirmed the collaboration. "We see this as a win-win for everybody," she said. "International visitors come over for King Biscuit and they want to stay longer. They want things to do."

While the schedules are coordinated, the two festivals probably won't partner in terms of the artists that are performing at them. "But we're talking," Jordan said. "We're not overlapping and we're not in competition. Everybody seems to be behind it."

Good news for all you fans of bands like The Oak Ridge Boys, Diamond Rio, Paul Revere and The Raiders, Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers and Lonestar, because all of those artists will be performing at Oaklawn this year.

The series kicks off June 7 with The Oak Ridge Boys. Tickets for the concerts will range from $20-$30.

"When we built the Finish Line Theater four years ago, we never could have imagined that we'd be hosting acts like the Oak Ridge Boys and Lonestar," Matt Clement, Oaklawn's director of entertainment, said in a press release. "This is really exciting for us and all of our fans. These concerts are just another great reason why Oaklawn is Arkansas' favorite place to play."

Lucero, the Memphis-based band led by Little Rock's Ben Nichols, released a new album, "Women & Work" (ATO Records), on Tuesday. The band returns to Arkansas on May 19 for its annual Lucero Family Picnic in Batesville. Shooter Jennings is the only other act that's been announced for the event. Tickets aren't yet available.

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