Chicago: Robert Nighthawk Tooms Man On The Scene

Posted on 7/25/2009 by Monica Yasher

I received another great email this one is from Robert Nighthawk Tooms Keyboard player. He is the keyboard player with the Reba Russell band. He is on the road quite heavily and I have asked him to contribute to this blog. He may become American Blues Blog man on the scene. I'd also like to add he is an outstanding keyboardist.

Helena/West Helena, Arkansas spawned so many great artists. As you may know, Sunshine Sonny Payne was the original host of KFFA's famous King Biscuit Time radio show and he is still alive and doing well in Helena. The Sterling Billingsly Band and the Reba Russell Blues Band appeared at a fundraiser held in June in West Helena to help fund this year's Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival, formerly known as the King Biscuit. Sadly some shiftless en(trap)raneurs copyrighted and sold the King Biscuit name and will not let these nice folks use it for their wonderful festival. The festival has always been free to the public and this year will be the first year that economic forces have caused them to charge a nominal sum for admission. I think it costs only $10 a day to hear 12 hours of good music at the main stage and a discount ticket is available for a 3-day pass. Live music at the other stages is still absolutely free. There are a great number of music fan who travel from all over the world to this event each year and many folks come to the event and camp out at the local campgrounds. Much fun and frivolity is had by all and it is a genuinely friendly crowd. Some very tasty bar-b-que is to be had from local purveyors and some cool records are always in stock at Bubba Sullivan's store on the corner of Cherry Street across from the main stage. The fans bring lawn chairs or sit on the levee of the Mississippi River to hear the music. Helena is located just south of Memphis, about an hour's drive on the blues highway, Highway 61(as the old Mississippi Fred McDowell blues lyric notes, "longest road I know, goes from Chicago clean down to the Gulf of Mexico").

Here's this year's lineup taken from the Sonny Boy Blues Society's website:

Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival

2009 Lineup

The ABHF lineup has been finalized!!! Listed below are the acts for the Main Stage for this year’s event.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

  • 12:00 pm- Emerging Artists
  • 1:00 pm- Kings of the Delta- 2008 Emerging Artists Winner
  • 2:00 pm- 2009 SBBS Battle of the Bands Winner
  • 3:00 pm- Johnny Billington
  • 4:00 pm- J.P Soars & The Red Hots- 2009 International Blues Challenge winners
  • 5:00 pm- Lucious Spiller
  • 6:00 pm- Sterling Billingsley
  • 7:15 pm- Lil Dave Thompson
  • 8:50 pm- John Primer
  • 10:30 pm- The Cate Brothers

Friday, 9 October 2009

  • 12:00 pm- Harmonica Shah
  • 1:15 pm- Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys
  • 2:35 pm- Sam Carr with Dave Riley
  • 4:00 pm- Red Holloway
  • 5:30 pm- Pinetop Perkins & Bob Margolin
  • 7:00 pm- Billy Boy Arnold
  • 8:45 pm- Michael Burks
  • 10:30 pm- Bobby Rush

Saturday, 10 October 2009

  • 12:00 pm- Willie P & The NTO Band
  • 1:15 pm- Hamilton Loomis
  • 2:35 pm- Reba Russell
  • 4:05 pm- John Hammond
  • 5:40 pm- Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets
  • 7:10 pm- Hubert Sumlin & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith Band
  • 8:45 pm- Mitch Kasmar
  • 10:30 pm- Jackie Payne & Steve Edmonton

For more information, please contact the festival office at 870.816.1106 or 314.580.3764. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks!!

My dear friend, drummer Doug McMinn, and I will be playing with John Primer on Thursday night on the main stage. The Reba Russell Blues band will appear on Saturday afternoon. I thought we went on at 6pm but the schedule says 2:35 pm. Either way it will be one hell of a great day's entertainment.

Doug McMinn organized another fundraiser for the festival which will be held on Sunday, Sept. 20, at Neil's which is located at Madison and McLean in Memphis, Tennessee. The show will start at 1 pm and feature Papa Don McMinn, Robert Nighthawk Tooms and his Wampus Cats, and the Reba Russell Blues Band. All proceeds go to the festival, every last dime.

Thanks Robert and say hi to everyone.


Terrance "Gatorman" Lape

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.

We head to the big state of Texas! Abby Owen, our Texas correspondent.

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

Lastly, we have our roving blues entertainment writer,
Chef Jimi.

And of course, we will surprise you sometimes!

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