Tail of the Weak 2.38
Updated: Jan 25, 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.
Waycross, Georgia, the place I call home, saw its first settlement around the year 1820. The early inhabitants called it Ol' Nine, then Pendleton, and finally renamed it Tebeauville in 1857. A small, railroad community, it was incorporated as Way Cross on March 3, 1874.
On April 29, 1974, in honor of our Centennial anniversary, Waycross spread its wings a little with a nod to the musical culture of the youth—a little 'We need to do something for the kids in this town' approach. Two young Waycross-Ware Technical School officials, Kirk Rivenbark and Ted Whitten, had an idea for a concert.
Simply titled ROCK CONCERT, the poster promised NON-STOP BOOGIE from 6 to 12 P. M., although I can assure you it did not last until 12 noon the next day, because I was there sittin' cross-legged on the 30-yard line, smack dab in the middle of the hoo-rah that drew close to 3,000 music lovers.
Headliners were the blues-boogie band from Los Angeles, Canned Heat, who five years earlier performed at the most famous hippie gathering the world has ever seen, Woodstock, in upstate New York. International stars after two of their songs—“Going Up the Country” and “On the Road Again” (think not-Willie Nelson)—Canned Heat somehow found themselves in South Georgia.
The band, formed in 1965 by Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson and Bob “The Bear” Hite, was steeped in the blues, taking their name from a 1928 Tommy Johnson song, “Canned Heat Blues”, written about an alcoholic who had took to drinking Sterno Canned Heat.
“Going Up the Country” was a remake of “Bull Doze Blues”, recorded by Henry Thomas in 1927; and “On the Road Again” was based on the '53 Floyd Jones song, originally based on Tommy Johnson's “Big Road Blues”, recorded in 1928.
Emceeing the concert that day was local deejay, Harrell's Music employee, and original bass player of King David and the Slaves and Down Home with Eddie Middleton, T. Wayne Scarborough, decked out in overalls and using his best radio voice to announce the acts.
My ol' bandmate-drummer, John Randall Smith, was on stage with his band, Sugarcane early on; and after their set, he and a couple of young cohorts found themselves in Canned Heat's equipment truck, where they stumbled upon several cases of beer. While the headliners boogied down, John and company drank till they had their fill, scootin' out unnoticed and leaving Canned Heat little as far as aftershow refreshments.
The other local bands that day were some of the finest Waycross had to offer. Sugarcane was comprised of the Smith brothers, John and Bill, John Davis, and Bill Farris. The soul-funk band, Toll Darkness, played originals interspersed with covers, as I recall them sayin', “We fittin' to do a song by WAR!”
Originally known as the Wall of Sound, Delta, featured lead singer sisters, Connie and Rita McDaniel, drummer Wayne Hutchison, Madison Gibson on Hammond B3, along with brothers, Jerry Boyett on bass and Bobby Boyett on lead guitar.
Packhouse touted the lead vocals of legendary beach music crooner, Jack Brinkley, Ricky Alderman on Wurlitzer piano, Ronnie Kirkland on organ, Joe Shear on lead guitar, Bruce Wood on drums, and Dave Burns on bass.
When midnight came and the show ended, Canned Heat's lead singer, Bob Hite, found himself on a bar stool down at the old Zodiac Bar on Plant Avenue. John Randall Smith sat next to him, attempting to console the big man, who was drownin' in sorrow and cryin' in his beer.
John seemed to think “The Bear” was upset about his marital problems, Mrs. “The Bear” having recently left. I think it had more to do with all the beer in his equipment truck having been absconded by an unknown beer assassin, who happened to be sitting right next to him.
20th Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival
Advance Weekend Passes:
Frank Sikes for reminding me of one of my favorite words...absconded :) Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin