First Annual Ozarks Music Festival

Posted on 9/13/2010 by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

(Memphis, Tennessee) This weekend we journey to lovely Springfield, Missouri, to play the 1st Annual OZARKS Music Festival. This was our maiden voyage in Doug and Amanda McMinn’s 40 foot Silver Eagle tour bus. After air conditioner problems sent the inside bus temperature to a candy bar melting 100+ degrees, an air conditioner mechanic arrived, phoned the parts house and begged for them to stay open a bit longer, drove there and back and installed the parts in record time. We loaded luggage and music gear into the bays and headed north out of Memphis on I-55.

After a brief fuel stop/windshield bug removal at a truck stop in West Memphis, we drove all night across Arkansas and into Missouri. Thanks to our friend, CDL driving instructor Eddie Hunter, who gave us many hours of bus driving lessons earlier this week. Photo above by David Fisk.

About 3 AM we checked in to Springfield’s Doubletree hotel which proved to be fine accommodations and a luxurious place to lay your head. The following morning we arose and were shuttled over to the Boy’s Club where we conducted some Blues in the Schools classes. The Cate Brothers, who were scheduled to play the festival at 12:30 on this Saturday were performing, jamming out a few tunes with the young people at the Boys Club when we arrived. We took their places at the instruments and had a fine time with the kids.

Afterward, we shuttled back to the hotel and prepared to leave for our gig which started at 3:30 that afternoon. We pulled into the gigantic parking lot at the Bass Pro Shop’s Outdoor World and were assisted by the stage crew who got all our gear onstage. Thanks, guys.

Ernie Cate

Cate Brothers jamming with the young folks on Saturday morning

Reba Russell, Earl Cate, Wayne Russell at the Boys and Girls Club

Ozarks Music Fest...a great weekend of music and fun. Thanks to our old friend Monte Lorts for a beautiful festival and first class accommodations. We look forward to coming back to the area to see our friends very soon.

Before we began our set I had an opportunity to watch Elkhorn, Wisconsin, native Tallan Noble Latz, 10 year old who dazzled the crowd playing behind his head, playing slide with a mic stand, inducing feedback and delivering a Hendrix-esque version of our national anthem.
The young man was wearing what appeared to be a big animal tail under his shirt attached to the back of his jeans making him appear rather lupine on stage. I was profoundly amused.

hee hee.

Behind the head picking.

Josh Roberts tunes before the performance.

After a technical problems (too damn many buttons on their Yamaha piano including one on the back I could not see that killed the output signal) we launched into our set. The heat and direct sunshine seriously raised the temperatures onstage and Reba Russell poured 3 bottles of water on her head during the show to stay cool.

Wayne Russell

Doug McMinn goozles some water between songs.

Drummer Doug McMinn discovered there was no rug under his drums and he chased them across the stage during the set (as you play the drums they move around without anything under them to anchor them down). After our set the good folks at the festival quickly fetched a rug for the remainder of the day’s events. Despite the heat and a few minor distractions the show went well, the Leslie was spinning and Reba was in fine voice for this appreciative crowd of blues lovers. Springfield is a city we have toured for many years and we always love to travel to Missouri to see our old friends.

Wayne Russell, Josh Roberts

Wayne petitions God for a cool breeze or prompts the crowd to clap along, not sure which

After our show a great band from New Orleans hit the stage. Papa Grows Funk laid down a tight and impressive set. The band is comprised by John “Papa” Gros on keys, Juney June Yamagishi on guitar, Jason Mingledorf on sax, Marc L. Pero on bass and Jellybean Alexander on drums. These guys put on a show of the best funk I have heard out of New Orleans since Chocolate Milk back in the day. Check out their site at:

Juney June Yamagishi on guitar, Jason Mingledorf on sax

Jason Mingledorf

Juney June Yamagishi

After signing some posters and selling some CD’s and t-shirts, we headed into the confines of the cool RV they were using as a dressing room and then back to the bus for rehydration and a quick trip back to the hotel. After showering and eating supper, Josh, Wayne and Reba headed to the late night blues jam held at Dennis’ Bar where Reba sang a tune for the folks. The author, a bit overheated from the day, had to lay low in the hotel and write some American Blues News.

Wayne Sharp (keyboard) Chuck "Popcorn" Lowden (drums) of Michael Burks Band

After a comfortable night at the Doubletree hotel we arose and loaded our luggage and were greeted by the members of Michel Burkes’ band. These guys had put on a great show the night before and wanted to come by and hang out for a little while before we all hit the road to our respective destinations.

Michael Burks, Doug McMinn

These are some friendly fun guys as well as accomplished musicians and we were really glad to get acquainted even though our visit was shortened by other gigs that day to which we had to travel. We said our goodbyes and Doug pointed the bus back down south to the home of the Blues.

After a very pleasant ride back to the home of the blues I moved my gear again, this time to Huey’s midtown to play a gig with Earl the Pearl and the Peoples of the Blues at 8 PM. More on that next week here at American Blues News.


©2010, text and photographs, Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
© top photograph by David Fisk

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.

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Blake is the American Blues News review and interview guru. You may catch him out and about in NY playing the blues.

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Jim Stick in Colorado
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