Touring Kansas and Missouri by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

Posted on 6/21/2010 by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

(Memphis, Tennessee) As the temperature in Memphis reached 100 degrees during the daylight hours, the band beat a path northwest to play at the Kitchen Pass restaurants, one located in Parson, Kansas, and the other in Joplin, Missouri. After drummer Doug McMinn finished his Memphis gig on Thursday night we met at my house to launch toward Kansas at about 11:30 at night.

As we sped down the interstate our two vehicles got separated and we ended up taking two different routes to get to Kansas. Doug and yours truly went the northern route using Arkansas 63 heading for Springfield, Missouri, while Reba, Wayne, and Josh ventured west on Interstate 40 for a while before having to crash somewhere around Russellville, Arkansas. Being intrepid night travelers, Doug and I made it to Springfield about 6 AM where we stopped and crashed for a few hours before making the final push to Kansas the following day.

Pictured above at the top of the page is our friend, the lovely and elegant Nicole, who owns a food and beverage business in Erie, Kansas. Nicole, her Mom, and her aunt came to the show Friday in Parsons and also drove to catch our show on Saturday in Joplin. We were glad to have the chance to entertain them and hope to get a chance to play for them in Erie very soon.

Kitchen Pass, Parsons, Kansas

After a quick load in and some food we checked into the motel, and got ready for the evenings performance in Parsons. We had a great time playing for some old friends there that we had not seen since our last visit several years ago. It was encouraging to become reacquainted with these kind folks, many of whom had driven long distances. It was a great gig and a really fun night.

The stage at the Kitchen Pass

The next day we arose with a clatter and trekked east across the flat lands of Kansas to Joplin for our next engagement.

Corn growing in Kansas...looks like a good crop this year.

Dig the groovy landscape.

Corn farmery.

Doug McMinn pilots us eastward

Amish rides, no oil required

Cruising across back roads past farms, Amish folks riding in horse drawn buggies, and scenic middle America we made good time to our destination of Joplin, Missouri. Fearing reprisals, we got Wayne to the Olive garden as soon as possible for fuel replenishment... just in the nick of time... and then off to the Baymont Inns and Suites where large siestas were enjoyed by one and all.

Pulling into the gig

This place is a huge, outdoor 3 tier venue with a large indoor party room, accompanied by an adjacent bar and restaurant and a fine dining establishment called Wilder's located next door.

Wayne Russell noodles during the load in/pre-snack. You can see the look of hunger on his face. He has only eaten three or 4 times at this point and is famished. That's the same human expression that some folks in the Donner party saw as their last sight on this earth.

Senorita Miller con cervezas.

A look at the stage from the second tier

After some snacks with our friend Monte Lorts and his lovely wife Cathy, we readied ourselves for the gig, tuned the guitars and headed for the stage. Monte has been kind enough to help us with bookings throughout the years and we will be playing the Ozarks Music Festival this year on August 28 in Springfield, Missouri, on the grounds of the the giant Bass Pro superstore.

Check it out:

From the site:

"The festival is being developed as a major annual music event in Southwest Missouri and the Ozarks and proceeds from the event will benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield and the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

The 2010 Ozarks Music Fest headliners include Shemekia Copeland, known for her powerful vocal talent. She is the daughter of blues music legend Johnny Clyde Copeland and she will be headlining the Friday night Oz show. Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk comes to the festival from New Orleans and features Ivan Neville from the New Orleans based Neville Brothers group family. The band is developing a strong national following and will be headlining the Saturday night festival show.

Aunt Kizzy'z Boyz make a return trip to Southwest Missouri coming from the San Diego, California area. They will join Joanne Shaw Taylor and the Zac Harmon Band on the Friday night festival mainstage. The Saturday festival performances will be kicked off by the legends from Arkansas, The Cate Brothers Band as Ernie and Earl Cate get their band together for their annual reunion show in Springfield. Tallan Noble Latz, the 10 year old guitarist who competed on the America's Got Talent television series and multiple other television shows brings his band to show why they are already known around the country as a powerful developing talent. Ozarks favorite Reba Russell from Memphis is scheduled for a Saturday afternoon performance along with a new to the Ozarks act, Papa Grows Funk and another returning favorite, guitar master Michael Burks and his band from southern Arkansas."

Wayne would not miss this gig in Springfield as therein lies the opportunity for Lambert restaurant's all you can trough trencherman's special featuring "throwed rolls," a limitless number of huge freshly baked hot rolls which are literally thrown across the room at the patrons...some baseball skills advised.

I did not make this up. Check out the veracity of my reportage here:

A capacity crowd piles into the venue as Reba Russell jockeys for position to get to the Jack Daniels dispenser.

Three tiers of blues fans and standing room only in Joplin.

Reba signs copies of our new CD, entitled "8," for our blues loving friends.

Revelers pack the Sky Bar to capacity.

This couple informed me that they actually conceived one of their children while, and I quote, "under the influence of the Reba Russell Band" during one of our gigs several years ago in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It is the band's sworn duty to do our best to replenish the earth's supply of blues fans by whatever means this case, mission accomplished.

Josh Roberts takes a break in the action to calculate that the women were outnumbering the men by about a two to one margin.

The author and Wayne Russell, who is looking much more placid after his fourth or fifth meal of the day. Note his expression is much less menacing than the "last survivor of the Donner party" look seen above.

My buddy Doug McMinn manning his battle station behind the drums. It is a joy to play in a band with this guy as he's a truly professional musician who has dedicated his life to playing drums and singing.

Reba Russell, clad in the Boycott BP uniform which she and I now like to sport onstage.

Wayne Russell contemplates more biscuits at the Cracker Barrel.

Our long time beloved friends Doug and Janet who have kindly come to see us for well over 10 years. Doug has just recuperated form some health issues and we were all delighted to see him looking so healthy again. They have fed us in their home and been some of the best friends this band has ever known. Thanks folks, we love you very much.

Josh and Nicole discuss world events.

Josh Roberts and Doug McMinn after the big gig. We really had fun entertaining all these folks on this fine summer evening. We look forward to coming back to play some new exciting venues in the area very soon.

On the way home, Reba, Wayne and Josh stopped at Mammoth Springs State Park located between Thayer, Missouri, and Hardy Arkansas. There's Reba enjoying the hydroelectric joy of it all pictured above(photo by Wayne Russell). Here's a link to their site:

Turbine action...if these spill into the water they just splash, unlike oil.
(photo by Wayne Russell)

Josh opts for nature-powered toe invigoration.
(photo by Wayne Russell)


© Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms, 2010

American Blues News Staff

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.

Tues: New York Correspondent - J. Blake
Blake is the American Blues News review and interview guru. You may catch him out and about in NY playing the blues.

Wed: National Correspondent - Monica Yasher
Monica is our executive director and artist interview specialist. You can catch Monica singing the blues around Pittsburgh or working on some country music songs in Nashville.

Thurs: Washington, DC Correspondent - Virginiabluesman
Geraldo offers inteviews and reviews. You may have seen him at an Ana Popovic concert or conversed with him on her websites, as he offers administrative support with her music.

Fri: Northeast Photographer - Nelson Onofre
Nelson offers a Friday column of blues photography and pictorial support for the interviews covered by the team.

Jim Stick in Colorado
Jim will be focusing on the Blues Festivals in the beautiful state of Colorado, and the artists that live and visit there.

Maureen Elizabeth, our resident art correspondent, will be focusing on blues art as she explores the creation of CD covers, or speaking with artists who also have a love of creating pictorial art in addition to their music! She may also feature some of her good friends in the Pittsburgh area. In her love of art, you may find Maureen's photography accompanying writer's articles on our pages. Maureen is also our marketing director.

Pittsburgh correspondent and photographer, CR Bennett, will share the Pittsburgh scene with all of you. You may also see CR's pictures accompanying other writer's articles.

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Another big area to cover, the West Coast with Casey Reagan, Casey will feature many artists and events on this ocean's shores.

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