• Uncle Dave Griffin

Tail of the Weak 2.29

Updated: Jan 23, 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.

Today's Tail of the Weak represents the one year anniversary since I began a series of insights and musical memories. I can say that, when my old Doghill buddy, neighbor, and book author himself, James Cocke, proposed that I should start blogging in July of last year, I muttered, under my breath, “James, I ain't got time for that!”

The Doghill Gang. L-R: Greg Griffin, Gary Griffin, Debbi Griffin Hickox, Uncle Dave, Billy Ray Herrin, and James Cocke, 2017

A couple of weeks went by; and, as it rolled around in the recesses of what's left of my brain, I reconsidered and began a journey into a not-too-unfamiliar territory. I have been writing for a long time.

My brother, Gary Griffin, Managing Editor of the Waycross Journal-Herald, is a great writer. I followed in his footsteps early on and succeeded him by three years as the co-editor of the Ware County High newspaper, Gator Gabb. We both had a brilliant and colorful journalism instructor by the name of Robert Latimer Hurst, author of This Magic Wildnerness: Parts I and II and At Random in the Wildnerness. Mr. Hurst taught us the basics—inverted pyramid-style.

My buddy growing up on Mt. Pleasant Road in Waycross, Georgia, Billy Ray Herrin, taught me the fundamentals of bass and rhythm guitar; and the two of us ventured naturally into songwriting together. In the late Eighties, he landed a publishing contract with the late, great Bill Lowery in Atlanta, Georgia. Two years later, Billy Ray allowed me to walk through the door he had opened, as we co-wrote seven songs that wound up in Lowery's extensive publishing catalog.

L-R: Judge Ben Smith, Jr., Bill Smith, ? , Gerald Dukes, Uncle Dave, John Randall Smith. The Rebelaires, Olustee FL, late 90s

In 1993, my lifelong musical companions, John Randall Smith, Bill Smith, and Gerald Dukes, formed a group in honor of our southern ancestors. Judge Ben Smith, Jr.—8th Air Force World War II veteran, state circuit court judge, lawyer, artist, Renaissance man, and John and Bill's daddy—dubbed us The Rebelaires.

We performed at Confederate balls, camp meetings, Civil War reenactments, barbecues, and fish frys in every state in Dixie, save for Kentucky and Mississippi, until 2002, writing original songs and releasing six CDs along the way. Our songwriting during that period was as point on as anyone's and I'm proud to've rid with 'em boys.

By the turn of the 21st century, my songwriting was becoming more and more influenced by a generation of young, local songwriters—nephew Gram Griffin, Sean Clark, and Chris Rider. Their brilliance in wordsmanship pushed me to realize that songwriting is a wonder to behold and a gift not to be taken lightly. They set the bar that I continually try to measure up to.

William Faulkner

Another friend and local musician, Bill McIntosh, introduced me to William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying when I was 52. Why in God's name I had never read his works before then, I'll never know. Faulkner is not an easy read, to be sure—but I thank ol' McIntosh every day for lending me his copy, allowing Faulkner's stream-of-consciousness writing to wrestle itself around my mind.

Since I began writing, I have walked through the past darkly and, at times, come out the other side into the brilliant light of self-discovery. I don't mean to sound dramatic; but, as Don Henley, songwriter, drummer, and lead vocalist of The Eagles, put it, “In order to write from the heart, one has to dredge up all of his past triumphs and heartaches”. Outside of writers, I don't know of a whole lot of people that want to wallow around in past failures.

I appreciate everyone of you who take the time to read my little Tail of the Weak online and in the Waycross Journal-Herald. I appreciate the encouragement when I cross paths with a stranger in Walmart or an old friend at a local bar. I appreciate the Likes, the Loves, the Dancey Hearts, and comments from my dear friends, past classmates, and music lovers on Facebook.

In last November's Tail of the Weak 1.17, I quoted my good friend, James Cocke, from his book, Cocke Tales: Memoirs of a Redneck Hippy. His response was, “Dave, you amaze me with your work. I enjoyed seeing my little part in the whole scheme of things.” It was James Cocke's 'little part in the whole scheme of things' over a year ago that inspired me to open up my mind and write about my memories.

And so, it is my hope that you find a little bit of enjoyment, some trivial enlightenment, or maybe a tear of nostalgia in my stories.

If so, that makes me happy.

If not, then it's James Cocke's fault.

20th Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival

Advance Weekend Passes:

REFERENCES Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin

#JamesCocke #WaycrossJournalHerald #WareCountyHighSchool #RobertLatimerHurst #BillyRayHerrin #ThisMagicWilderness #AtRandomintheWilderness #BillLowery #TheRebelaires #SeanClark #ChrisRider #WilliamFaulkner #AsILayDying #DonHenley #TheEagles #CockeTales

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