Greater Ozarks Blues Festival by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

Posted on 9/21/2009 by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

Ernie Cate after the show

(Memphis, Tennessee) As another weekend rolls in, we take to the highway for a trip to the Greater Ozark Blues Festival in Springfield, Missouri, a place where we have gigged and made friends for many years. We eased into the hotel and received a beautiful, huge gift basket made by the sweet ladies of the blues society and then rapidly made our way to the Bass Pro Shop parking lot where the festival was being held. Although I didn't venture into the Bass Pro Shop I wondered how such a huge edifice cold be supported by only professional bass players. Evidently there are more of them than I ever imagined, especially concentrated in Springfield it would seem. Who knew?

We arrived at the festival grounds just as our friends, the Cate Brothers, finished their set. We have been fortunate enough to befriend and enjoy these guys and their band for many years. They are timeless and exceptionally talented.

Earl Cate

Reba Russell and promoter Monte Lorts

Reba sings for the big crowd

Reba Russell's band puts on a well received set in Springfield...Wayne gets hungry

The big crowd was very generous with their accolades and we had a most gratifying time playing our set in Springfield. After the show Doug McMinn was able to locate the Miller Lite stash and the band stuck around for a great set by Kenny Neal and band. These guys play the real low down blues, jamming on Ivory Joe Hunter's "Since I met You Baby" for a good 20 minutes...real cool.

Kenny Neal's very cool band

Kenny sings

Kenny blows harp

Behind the stage : Kenny Neal's excellent band

Doug McMinn hangs with Earl Cate

As the author had a severe case of the Pomeranian flu, we retreated rather early for victual fortification. Wayne Russell, lured by the prospect of people throwing rolls into his mouth until submission, steered us to Lambert's where the world famous "throwed roll" is always available, but there was a line of about 50 people outside the door(possibly all bass players) so the selection was vetoed and we ambled across the street to Grant's where tasty snacks were had by one and all. Our waiter at Grant's suggested that their rolls were too good to throw and I have to agree, the food was superb.

I then had the troops deposit me at the hotel and they returned to the festival. I snoozed, a victim of Pomeranian venom and it's concomitant virus, and the band went back to the Bass Pro Shop to listen to more music and possibly look at bass guitars or fishing lures. I suffered quietly in my room , rattling the paint upon the walls with some light snoring and dreams of getting even with the evil dogs that had given be this heinous malady.

The following day we arose with a clatter and headed back south toward Memphis, Home of the blues.

Driving back to the home of the blues

©2009, Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms


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What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

Mon: Memphis Correspondent - Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
Nighthawk is our resident globetrotter and man behind the scenes, as he tours with the Reba Russell Band.

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