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  • Uncle Dave Griffin

Tail of the Weak 2.6

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Tail of the Weak is a series of insights and musical memories from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin, singer/songwriter and founder of the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, from Waycross, Georgia.

In the wee hours of a January morning in 1993, I was on the job, sorting magazines, at the Waycross Post Office. I happened on one periodical, advertising the fun and festivities that lay in store at Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Now, I had always heard about Mardi Gras—the beads, the baubles, the boobs—the evil streets, the drinking, the sin and debauchery—and thought, “What's not to like about it?”

So, with a few days of saved-up annual leave, I convinced my girl, Lynne, and our best friends, Karen and Mike Woodard, to head for Louisiana. We struck out at about one a.m. on Saturday, February 13, in my customized Ford Econoline van and arrived in New Orleans at about 11:00.

Our motel rooms weren't available yet; so, we headed out a long, bayou-lined highway in search of food. The restaurant was a low-slung eatery—not too high on class—just perfect for the four traveling South Georgians from the Okefenokee Swamp.

We ordered crawfish and longneck beers; and, in a matter of minutes, the waitress came out wielding a tray with a mountain of crawfish piled so high a show dog couldn't jump over it. She must have noticed our amateurish attempts as we dug in and politely instructed us to 'pinch the tails and suck the heads'.

We hadn't been in N'awlins but a couple of hours; and, I was already in Heaven! Lawd, them crawfish was good!

As we yielded to the atmosphere of our new home, we spent some time club-hopping down Bourbon Street in the French Quarter night, having early morning breakfast beignets as a black saxophonist on a nearby corner serenaded us sweetly, and taking a paddlewheel riverboat ride up and down the Mississippi.

It was the Mardi Gras parades that were ceremoniously enchanting. Each evening of every night, there was a parade that could be found in the outlying parishes surrounding New Orleans. Costumed krewe members aboard lavishly-decorated floats tossed out prized trinkets—medallions, plastic drinking cups, gold doubloons, and colorful beads.

I soon came to realize that the currency of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras were those colorful strands of beads. The guys scrapped and scraped at the parades to get as many as they could. The girls had to do one thing—and one thing only—to get them from the guys. Let's just say, my beads were gone with a flash.

We happened to be in New Orleans a full week before the intense revelry of the grand finale they call Fat Tuesday. There was plenty going on; but, it was a far cry from what would come a week later. All in all, I think I only saw about seven breasts during our stay. And if you count my drunken double vision, then it was only three-and-a-half.

Metairie, Louisiana is a short, 15-minute shot from New Orleans; and, I knew we had to make a trip there, to the Garden of Memories Cemetery, where a former Waycross boy lay buried. Ingram Cecil Connor III, known to the world as Gram Parsons, a musician who pioneered the merging of rock and country genres during the late Sixties, passed away on September 19, 1973.

In a tale known far and wide, Parsons's coffin was snatched by his former road manager, Phil Kaufman, then driven out to the Joshua Tree Desert for a ceremonious cremation—thus satisfying GP's final wishes. The cremation was aborted, the body recovered and properly buried in a sad grave located off Airline Highway in Metairie, acceding to the wishes of Parsons's stepfather, Robert Parsons.

The grave of Gram Parsons.  Garden of Memories, Metairie, Louisiana
The grave of Gram Parsons. Garden of Memories, Metairie, Louisiana

The original plot marker was simply a round, stone disk, etched with the words, 'God's Own Singer'. “God's Own Singer” was the title of a Bernie Leadon song from the Flying Burrito Brother's second album, and hardly a proper epitaph for Parsons, who had left behind a prominent body of songs himself.

Recently, the gravesite has been appropriately adorned with a bas-relief portrait of Gram Parsons holding his guitar and the inscription below, a verse from one of his own songs.

After a few four days, our visit to New Orleans and Mardi Gras finally came to an end. We loaded up in the Econoline and headed wearily east to Waycross. Mike Woodard gamely took the wheel as Karen “Sunshine”, Lynne, and I all passed out in the back of the van with Neil Young in the CD player, rocking us to sleep.

To this day, if asked who some of his musical heroes are, Mike Woodard will coldly tell you, “It sure as hell ain't Neil Young!” Not knowing how to eject Neil's nasal voicings from the dashboard—and being the gentleman that he is—poor Mike just kept driving down I-10, listening to Harvest over and over and over and over again.

7th Annual Swamptown Getdown Music and Arts Festival

March 17-18, 2017

Okefenokee Fairgrounds

Waycross, Georgia Advance Weekend Passes:



Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin

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