Tail of the Weak 2.32
Updated: Jan 24
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.
The day was June 4, 1992. It was a sobering experience to know that we had been “illegal aliens” for three days in Funky Nassau. So, as we prepared to leave the island, I bought two more expensive cans of Coke and we proceeded to the shoreline rocks, where we opened the bottle of Bacardi 151 and began to drink.
Wait a minute! Cruise line policies dictate you're only allowed to take unopened alcohol on board; so, still on vacation, we began to drink in earnest till the Cokes ran out. When that happened, we poured the remaining rum into our empty cans and slid aboard the Sea Escape, heading back to Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Once on board, we found the crowded bar at the front of the ship, and shared a table with a nice couple from St. Louis. We ordered a couple glasses of Coke from a tall, black waiter in an elegant cruise ship jacket and continued drinking.
I noticed our waiter, standing at the bar and casting suspicious glances back towards our table. Well, I mean, we were sipping Coke from a Coke can and chasing it immediately with Coke from a glass. I was sure that he was onto us; but, we were prepared to put the “illegal” in “illegal aliens” by that point.
A young girl, singing and playing acoustic guitar for the crowd's enjoyment, took a break and asked if anyone else would care to play. I didn't need any excuse at all to get up, grab the guitar, and go into my rendition of The Eagles' debut album hit, “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, the Jack Tempchin-written song that was one of the first I ever learned to play.
The audience gave me a hearty round of applause, which pushed me to do one more. “The Asshole Song” was from a comedian I heard back in the 70s when I was playing in the Down Home Band with Eddie Middleton. Our bass player, Wayne Scarborough, learned the words and chords to the song. The ultimate “gotcha” song, it started with a beautiful melody and poetic lyrics:
If I could love you just one more time – I'd send my blues away
I'd send my blues away – Just to love you one more time
I took away the warmth, the love, and the laughter
And I only gave you pain – Took away the sun and made it rain
(Beautiful descending guitar chords and then)
I'm an asshole – I'm an asshole
But that shouldn't bother you – Cause you're an asshole too
After that song, the crowd went crazy, and the black waiter was our new friend.
When we hit the U.S. again, it was back to the airport for another rental car, then across the state of Florida by way of Alligator Alley, that stretch of I-75 connecting Fort Lauderdale and Naples. The east-west road, originally opened February 11, 1968, cut across Seminole Indian reservations in the swampy Florida Everglades.
We were headed for Saint Petersburg, where, unknown to my future wife, the next night, Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Revue would be performing at the Bayfront Center—and I had tickets. Since 1989, the former Beatles drummer had toured as a live rock supergroup, with a lineup of ever-changing past and present musical icons.
The lineup in 1992 was a good one—Joe Walsh (James Gang, Eagles), Todd Rundgren, Nils Lofgren (E Street Band), Dave Edmunds (Rockpile), Burton Cummings (Guess Who), Timothy B. Schmidt (Poco, Eagles), Ringo's son, Zak Starkey (Who), and Timmy Cappello (Tina Turner)—and, of course, Ringo Starr himself.
The concert was unbelievable—high points being all of Ringo's Beatles songs; Timothy B. Schmidt doin' the old, acoustic Poco ballad, “Keep On Tryin'”; “Shine Silently” by Nils Lofgren; Joe Walsh's amazing guitar playing; and Burton Cummings singin' “No Time”.
I was disappointed Todd Rundgren didn't do “Hello It's Me” or “I Saw the Light”; and, the craziest memory of the night belonged to Burton Cummings as he bumped, grinded, and licked his mic stand throughout “American Woman”.
It was a fitting climax to a fantastic vacation shared by a beautiful, blue-eyed blonde with pretty feet, who ended up marrying me one year later. We just celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary a little over a month ago; and she goes with me everywhere I perform. She has even took to singin' with me on the great John Prine song, “In Spite of Ourselves”; although it takes a little 151 rum to get her courage up.
I'm afraid it would take a lot more than that before she starts bumpin', grindin', and lickin' the mic stand like Burton Cummings; but, I'm still holdin' on to hope.
20th Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival
Advance Weekend Passes:
YouTube Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin
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