King Biscuit Blues Fest Loses Its Name

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — After 20 years as the King Biscuit Blues Festival, a lawsuit is forcing a name change for the legendary non-profit concert in Helena, Arkansas.

The festival, which is the creation of the Sonny Boy Blue Society, will now be called the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival. Everything else, including the free admission, location and lineup will stay the same.

The name change comes after several years of negotiations between the Sonny Boy Blues Society and the King Biscuit Entertainment Group, out of New York City, which owns the trademark name.

Permission had been issued and accepted between both parties until this year, when KBEG asked for a large fraction of the festival’s income to use the name. SBBS determined that it would have to pay $15,000 in order to use the festival name.

Wayne Andrews, director of SBBS, told the Memphis Business Journal that the festival barely makes that much in profit every year and issued a smaller counter offer, which was turned down.

“We offered to pay a license fee, provide recognition for the radio program, which KBE produces, and other benefits to establish an ongoing relationship, but evidently the KBE Group that that it was not enough,” he said.

The King Biscuit Blues Festival was launched to preserve the music traditions of the Delta. The name of the festival came from King Biscuit Flour, which was produced in Helena, and sponsored the first blues radio show in the country, “King Biscuit Time,” which is still broadcast weekdays in Helena.

SBBS was disappointed with the outcome, but had already started making arrangements to change the festival name in case an agreement could not be reached. Andrews has already filed the paperwork for the new name and is in the midst of creating a new logo and signage.

“It is hard to understand how a group from New York which did not start business until 1973 can end up owning a name for a radio show that has been on the air in Arkansas since the 1940's. The King Biscuit name has over 60 years of business and music history in Helena and now the festival, which is something that was started in Helena, will have to change it's name because of a company in New York,” Andrews said in a statement, according to the paper.

He said the name change should not affect the festival.

“I don't think it will affect the attendance; as many people come for the experience not because of the name,” Andrews said. “A large financial burden will be placed on our organization which is a non profit due to the last minute changes of merchandise with such a short time before the big event.”

The Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival will take place in Helena on October 6-8. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers

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