Tampa Bay Blues Festival by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

Posted on 4/19/2010 by Monica Yasher

(Memphis, Tennessee) This week we travel to the sunny state of Florida where "the sun shines damn near every day" and the blues fans come out in droves to catch good blues music. On Wednesday, Wayne and Reba Russell and yours truly rolled out across Mississippi and then Alabama, headed to the sunshine state where we would play four times in two days.

Beautiful flora and fauna everywhere. This was photographed at a gas station along the way.

Reba makes off with a small souvenir

A pelican perches on a boat outside Sea Hag's on the beach

Blues denizen and friend Jack Spencer joins us on Thursday night for food and fun.

This place has great calamari and crab cakes.

Reba and Wayne outside on the patio

The view from my seat on the patio at Sea Hag's

As the sun sinks in the west...

Reba scores a shell as we walk down the beach to the next watering hole

More frivolity is had in this giant tiki hut

Jack and the author attempt to navigate the palm fronds

More fun with blues aficionados Charlie and Moe who traveled from Lincoln, Nebraska

Jack and Reba having some laughs

The next day it's all business, well, for a little while anyway

We opened up this year's Tampa Bay Blues Festival at 12:30 PM on April 9. The crowd was truly impressive for such an early set. We arrived early to get to the stage and get all the backline gear set up to play the show.

Here' my battle station replete with a vintage Hammond B-3, 2 spinning Leslie cabinets, a sweet Yamaha P-200 and my 1958 Fender Bassman, the outdoor harp rig of choice

Two 142 Leslie's sounded great

Fans pour in the gates as soon as they open.

Reba Russell checks her mic and the stage monitors before the show

My buddy Doug McMinn readies the drum kit

Josh Roberts reels from the booming Ampeg SVT

Doug gets serious behind a maze of drums and sound gear

Josh Roberts and Wayne Russell

Time for one more picture and 2 jokes before we start playing

This is a big crowd for such an early start on a Friday afternoon

Josh Roberts burns a solo for a receptive crowd of serious blues lovers

There's beer in here.

Wayne and Josh cool off in the RV that made a great dressing room. It was stocked with these...

Look at the face on the label of the world's coolest beer, it's Evander!

Wayne begins his ritual post gig food engorgement after the show.
The man has the metabolism of a hummingbird in flight.

Jolene Roberts and Wayne Russell at the artist's tent backstage

This cat Evander has his own effigy that he travels with during the entire event...and his own beer. The beer is damn good by the way. That beard makes me look like a piker. It's a true Rip Van Winkle...most impressive. He's a really great guy, much fun to be around.

After our show I eased back on stage to get a couple of pictures during Sonny Landreth's awesome show...great slide guitar playing, a massive, saturated tube tone that has to be heard.

The big stage in Tampa Bay, great sound, great equipment, and wonderful sound technicians and stage hands...truly a class act among blues festivals

Yikes! It's a cardboard cut-out of Evander. He's everywhere!

Sonny Landreth on stage at Tampa Bay playing slide guitar

Sonny Landreth played some really great stuff, an eclectic blend of fine music.

My new friend, Sonny Landreth
Sonny Landreth and Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

View of the Gulf of Mexico from the stage

Later that night we played at NOVA 535 in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, for the after party. This is a beautiful club and the artwork on the walls alone is worth the price of admission. We had a great time and a few grouper sandwiches made outside by some fine chefs. Then we headed back to the Marriott for a big nap before heading out the next morning to Jacksonville, Florida, where we played the George's Springing the Blues Festival the following day. This story continues next week here at the American Blues News.

Reba Russell is releasing the band's 8th CD in the next month. Look for it at:


©Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms, 2010

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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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