(Memphis, Tennessee) After a long afternoon in the sun playing with the Eric Hughes Band at the new Harley-Davidson dealership in Southaven, Mississippi, my brother, Jeffrey, and I re-grouped and headed even further south down the blues highway, Highway 61, to Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Photo above is of my friends Brandon Santini and Josh Roberts .
After loading in we get down to business, playing for a sold out crowd of kind revelers and blues fans, many who had come from out of town and even some who had traveled from out of the country to visit the most famous juke joint in the delta.
The Reba Russell Band is releasing their new CD on the 15th of May and it is the band’s best effort yet. It is being called “8” as it is their eighth CD and it is full of new bluesy songs and a couple of surprises. Get your copy at RebaRussell.com.
Not 7, not quite 9, the new release is called “8“
behind the throbbing bass
During a break I shot this picture of Reba Russell
and Mr. and Mrs. Bill Luckett
Bill Luckett and award winning actor, Morgan Freeman, own Ground Zero and Bill has been a friend for many decades. He is currently running for Governor of Mississippi and it was great to see him and play one of his favorite songs, Albert King’s “I’ll Play the Blues for You.” Ground Zero also has several well appointed rooms upstairs from the club which they rent out. It is a favorite place to stay for blues fans and travelers along the blues highway. The whole building is an old cotton grading warehouse and is a genuine piece of southern history.
sings the blues off the band’s new CD, entitled “8
That’s Josh Roberts
playing slide guitar above.
The party thrives at Ground Zero.
behind the drums
The Reba Russell Band
without the keyboard guy who was taking the picture
and Robert “Nighthawk” Tooms
If you ever get the chance, visit Clarksdale and the delta as it is rich in traditional blues, has a fine blues museum and is not fraught with all the tourist trap repugnance that is currently plaguing Beale Street. I love Beale Street more than anybody and have played there for over 25 years, but karaoke, dj’s and club owners who only want to pay 5 piece bands $200 a night have degraded the experience considerably. Jesus, how cheap and trifling can you get? Beale is a historical gem but the better musicians cannot afford to play there. They still come to Clarksdale’s Ground Zero.
Sorry, Beale Street, but you have done this to yourselves and I am not going to lie for you. It’s not too late for Beale to come back to it’s glory, but that’s probably best left for another article. At this point the club owners are starving out the music scene to squeeze out higher margins for themselves and it has become just another alcohol experience for most visitors rather than the zenith of the blues mecca that it is purported to be.
our friend, Belinda Moore
that’s Jay Moore
‘s sweet mother, Doryce Moore
, who comes often to see the band.
Brandon Santini, Jeffrey Tooms, Jay Moore and Brian LaPrade
, J. T. Lauritsen
and artist/songwriter Sally Raburn
J. T. sat in on a few numbers. He hails from Norway and is booking the band for a Norway tour there this year in October. He is a good singer, harp player and organ player.
My brother and I stopped by Delta Donut after the gig, but sadly, they weren’t open yet
World famous Abe’s Bar-B-Que as seen on the Food Network
The crossroads where the two highways intersect…you know the story.
Here’s a link to Clarksdale’s Ground Zero blues club, Delta Cotton Company Apartments, Madidi Restaurant and a link to their club’s live audio/video stream :
© Robert “Nighthawk” Tooms, 2010