Atlanta to Tallahassee by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

Posted on 7/26/2010 by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

(Memphis, Tennessee) We depart the home of the Blues heading to Atlanta via Nashville where we stopped to do a little business on Thursday. Drummer and fellow road dog Doug McMinn and I made it to Atlanta late Thursday night for a quick late night meal and arose to load in at Blind Willie's on Friday.

Blind Willie's, Atlanta, Georgia

Blind Willie's is a great location for Blues, Jazz and Roots music and owner Eric King always has a full house of music fans.

Blues fans pile into Blind Willie's

Reba Russell and Eric King

After a tasty meal at the club we launched onstage. Last year about this time we played a truly enjoyable wedding reception here at the club for our newlywed friends, Ginger and Louis, who were here at the club to join us for this evening's celebration.

STAX songwriter and recording artist William Bell with our friends Louis and Ginger

Also in the club was the legendary William Bell, songwriter and STAX recording artist. William is a wonderful musician and a genuinely friendly, dignified gentleman who was kind enough to hang out with us all night long and allow me to shoot a few pictures of him. We were really honored that he came out for the Reba Russell Band's return to Blind Willie's.

In 1961, William Bell wrote the the hit, "You Don't Miss Your Water" while playing in New York with Memphis jazz piano genius Phineas Newborn. It is a moving, beautiful song written about being homesick for his home and friends.

Josh Roberts and William Bell

Later while collaborating with Booker T. Jones, Bell wrote "Born Under a Bad Sign" which was recorded by Albert King and released by STAX in 1967 on King's first STAX LP which was named after this title song. It is one of King's landmark blues recordings. The tune was later recorded by Eric Clapton with the band, Cream, and many others down through the years. In 1997 Bell was inducted in to the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame. The same year he received the Rythm & Blues Pioneer Award. He has recorded 15 albums.

We played 3 sets and the crowd could not have been kinder and more receptive. The next morning we headed south to Tallahassee, Florida, to play the Bradfordville Blues Club.

"Party down" area behind the Bradfordville Blues Club, a legit juke joint down a dirt road
The fire from the previous evening is still smoldering in the background.

Time to load in the gear

Alberta Hunter, Clarence Carter, Little Milton

Gary Anton, owner of the club was on hand to greet us, help us load in and set up the sound. The walls and tables are adorned with painted likenesses of many blues artists who have previously played the Bradfordville Blues Club.

The sign reads, "Requests $1.00 Mustang Sally $10.00"
there's painting s of my friends Hubert Sumlin and James Cotton

The stage before the load in

The club has an excellent PA system and is frequented by a regular cadre of blues aficionados, some of whom even have their own chairs awaiting them at the bar...too cool.

Reba Russell and club owner Gary Anton

Monolithic, beautiful tree outside the club...dig the Spanish moss

Gary escorted us down to the band house, which is located near the club. It is a very comfortable house replete with more blues artwork...very comfortable digs, a comfy pad with a kitchen with a full pantry of groceries. Thanks Gary and BBC.

Fireplace in the band house

Josh Roberts and Wayne Russell watch tv in the band house

More art inside the band house, renditions of Little Walter and Lightnin' Hopkins

Art adorns the hallway

Doug McMinn operates the official American Blues News computer after Josh cooks some eggs and heads for the couch.

Spanish moss in the light of the full moon

The club glows magically in the moonlight

Fans begin to arrive at the club for a night of Blues

paintings of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Bobby Rush are signed by the musicians

Tabletops feature paintings, table 32, Diamond Teeth Mary

Table 7, Kenny Neal

Doug McMinn prepares for a drum assault

Little Ed

Johnny Winter

Inside the front door

Clarence Carter, Little Milton Campbell

Eddie Kirkland and Percy Sledge

Elwood points the way in

Josh Roberts leans back into a ripping solo

Charlie Musselwhite

The Reba Russell Band

Our gig was simulcast on streaming internet radio and I began to receive messages from my friends who had tuned in at about 1:30 AM. The internet is a marvel.

Wayne and Josh play in the shadow of the image of my friend, Pat Ramsey, who died in 2008. Pat and I used to hang out a lot on Beale Street back at the old Black Diamond after I finished my gig there and he finished his gig across the street at what was Doe's Place, now known as Blues City Cafe. He was a fine harp player who played with Johnny Winter. He was a good friend.

Above, my friend, bandleader and confidante, Reba Russell. Probably the best day of my life was the day I joined her band 20 years ago. It's just gotten better with time.

After the gig. Gary hooked us up with enormous plates of catfish and mullet, perfectly cooked and festooned with hot sauce. It was absolutely delicious. The end of a truly wonderful day.

Doug McMinn and the author prepare for the ride back to Memphis.


©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.

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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