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.
Look homeward Angel now, and melt with ruth: And, O ye Dolphins, waft the hapless youth.
— From the poem Lycidas by John Milton
It's been nigh on 30 years; and, I'm still not quite over it.
After the breakup of the Down Home Band in October 1978, I took my little nest egg that I had socked away—in a sock—and bought a used car. Loaded down with all of my worldly possessions, I headed to Valdosta, Georgia and found a job in the stockroom of Wilbro's Catalog Showroom.
The main impetus behind my move was a woman. We had met when I played the King of the Road in Valdosta. Things were going right good between us—or so I thought.
During my Down Home days, I would come to town every 4-6 weeks; and, all the stars aligned. Now, here I was with a loft apartment out Park Avenue; and, I guess you could call it a real job. We lasted about a month or two. Absence do make the heart grow fonder.
So, by the early months of '79, I was promoted to the position of Warehouse Manager at Wilbro's. I gave up my bachelor pad on Park Avenue and moved in with my music buddies at 601 E. Moore Street.
Homeward Angel was an extremely popular original band, composed of some of my former bandmates from Down Home—John Randall Smith on drums and vocals, and Ricky Alderman on keyboards. Their bass player was Bill Farris, who went on to work with Reba McEntire and Leann Rimes.
The band had a dual-headed monster, comprised of Bob Beckwith and Pat Buchanan on lead guitars and vocals. Pat lives in Nashville now, a seasoned session musician who has spent time with Hall and Oates, the Gap Band, and James Taylor.
Homeward Angel's roadie back in the day was a motorcycle-riding Waycrossan by the name of Jim Gibson. Everybody called him Gibbo, a big, big-hearted man with a headful of curly hair and a hearty, infectious laugh that could peel paint off of walls.
601 E. Moore Street was Rock and Roll Central. An old plaster-walled exterior with a long front porch, the inside was hardwood floors and high ceilings, with a staircase leading to upstairs bedrooms, and an idle back room, filled with loose bricks, a gas heater, and a sink. I shoveled the bricks out, moved a bed in, and called the back room my home.
The boys in the band would head out weeknights to play the Longbranch Saloon or some other local bar, while I would dutifully go to bed like a good warehouse manager.
On this particular night, they had come home with mischief on their minds. Gibbo rolled his Harley-Davidson up the front porch, through the door, and down the hallway stopping just outside my closed bedroom door.
At the count of three—about the time a Homeward Angel foot kicked my door open—Gibbo cranked down on that Harley and it rumbled to life, headlight shining. I suppose I looked a bit like Lazarus waking from the dead—bolt upright in bed, eyes glazed over in horror, as I stared back at the headlight from Hell, open-mouthed scream, deafened by the roar of the monster at the door!
Laughter ensued; and, if I slept at all the rest of the night, it would've been a miracle.
The story has been told and retold through the years, always bringing folks to tears of laughter as they melt with ruth at my night of misery.
It's been almost 30 years.
Look homeward, Gibbo.
I'm comin' for you!
7th Annual Swamptown Getdown Music and Arts Festival
March 17-18, 2017
Waycross, Georgia Advance Weekend Passes: https://events.ticketprinting.com/event/21700
REFERENCES Wikipedia Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin