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Tail of the Weak 2.11

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.

From November 1975 to October 1978, through several personnel changes, Down Home Band's home away from home, six nights a week, was the King of the Road Motor Inn, a premier motel chain owned by Roger Miller and named after his popular original song.

The KOR was situated in Valdosta, Georgia, a sprawling southern city on the move, located just above the Florida line next to I-75, boasting a fine military installation, a four-year college, and colorful locals from Lowndes and neighboring counties.

King of the Road, Valdosta, Georgia, 1976
King of the Road, Valdosta, Georgia, 1976

Here in this southwest Georgia community, Down Home seemed to be at their best. No matter what tedium or mediocrity the group would endure, as they gigged from town to town and across state lines, they knew that once they hit the “King”, everything was alright.

In our polyester shirts, double knit flare-leg pants, and platform shoes, we were the kings at the King of the Road; and, it was the place to be when Down Home came to town. Looking like something out of a Las Vegas showroom, the club was a bastion of red velvet and leatherette decadence.

The Red Room
The Red Room

Filled to overflow capacity on Friday and Saturday nights, Eddie Middleton and company aimed to please. Patrons queued up in a long line that snaked from the club door, through the lobby, past the front desk, and out into the parking lot.

The stage hung out of one corner of the room in a half-moon shape, followed by a slightly larger, curved parquet dance floor with tables surrounding it. Up a couple steps to the next level with more tables and crescent-shaped booths draped in black Naugahyde.

Two more steps led to the top level dining area, bar and waitress station, and a room at the rear housing a spotlight that we used on occasion, one being the evening we shared the stage with Sonny Turner, former lead singer of The Platters.

L-R: Ricky Alderman, Wayne Scarborough, Eddie Middleton, John Randall Smith, Joe Shear, Uncle Dave.  King of the Road, 1976
L-R: Ricky Alderman, Wayne Scarborough, Eddie Middleton, John Randall Smith, Joe Shear, Uncle Dave. King of the Road, 1976

The dinner set would start out each evening at 8:30, showcasing the vocal talents of the Down Home boys, and then segue into high energy dance music and show tunes featuring the unequaled Eddie Middleton, front man and lead singer of the group.

Well, all this made for quite a heady atmosphere among the young men of Down Home. Pretty women from South Georgia and North Florida were always in abundance;and, we single guys did not go lonely for a few nights.

On those nights when the women were scarce or disinterested, we would usually take to drinking amongst ourselves, because we were brothers. Brothers of the open road, we shared our dreams, our feelings, and our motel rooms. We were a band of brothers—a learning institution unto ourselves. Where one of us led, the others were bound to follow.

On some nights, after the lounge closed down, we would crawl into the van and weave down country roads under the watchful eye of a huge Lowndes County moon, singing to cows behind farm fences. The cows, I'm sure, didn't give a damn; but, to us, it was drunken therapy.

One particular night, we were led to an all-night breakfast place for early morning Patty Melts and hash browns with onions, grilled and made to order like only the Kettle could. We descended, dined, and were deserting the place as a quartet of hungry, blue-haired grannies made their way across the parking lot towards the front entrance, where our drummer stood, politely positioned, holding the door open for them.

“What a nice young man”, I heard one of them say, just before he hiked up his right leg and let go, on top of the last two ladies, some of the loudest, nose-blistering flatulence that I'd ever in my life heard.

The irony of this tale is that, as a child, I used to follow my dear grandma around Setzer's grocery store, as she strolled along in her simple cotton farm dress, leaning forward on her buggy, and breaking wind all the way down the aisle.

But, I don't think she ever intentionally farted on a musician.

American Spirit: Uncle Dave and The Younguns Download or Buy

REFERENCES Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin

#DownHomeBand #RogerMiller #ValdostaGeorgia #EddieMiddleton #KingoftheRoad

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