Tail of the Weak 2.43
Updated: Jan 25
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.
Top hat head on a hard stage floor ~ Backward lean through the curtain door
Unknown brought the whole house down ~ Dance with the Dolly in the denim gown
Ol' Bocephus with a rowdy rep ~ Conversatin' with a Johnny Depp
Fake Tom Petty on a Jesus high ~ Talk to a beaver with the starry eyes
—“The Crazy Kind” by Uncle Dave Griffin
Halloween—the one holiday you can totally be something or somebody other than yourself. I loved Halloween as a child. With a little mascara, a smidgen of lipstick, a Singer sewing machine, and a lot of artistic vision, Mama could manufacture costume miracles.
I've been cast as clowns, hobos, and pirates; but, one of the best Mama ever made was the One-eyed One-horned Flying Purple People-Eater, inspired by the Sheb Wooley classic that topped the charts during the summer of 1958.
After a brief respite during my teen years, my love for Halloween reappeared in a joyous display of masquerade disguises. I won several contests as the Pink Panther; and, once again, Mama did an amazing job with nothin' but an old bed sheet, some long johns, a couple boxes of pink Rit dye, and cotton to stuff the tail, with a wire coat hanger to make it flexible and stiff.
Which brings me to another prize-winning invention that I threw together in about a half-hour before heading down to the Creek Bar and Grill's Annual Halloween Costume Contest. On our way home from the Fall Festival at Calvary Baptist Church, where we had taken our young son, Lynne saw the sign and said, “We should go!”
While she started rummaging in the closet for a cowgirl outfit, I quietly sifted through a drawer, finding a big, political button I could pin on the lapel of my jacket. I gave it a new background, printed the words, “Viagra is for Weenies”, stuck a dildo out the front of my pants, and strode boldly into the night. $100 later, we were home—and, that was the only thing that dildo has ever been used for—before or since!
The most mileage I ever got out of being a character other than myself was, God rest his soul, Mr. Tom Petty. My daughter, Megan, a huge Tom Petty fan ever since I gifted her his Greatest Hits CD when she was just ten years old, constantly admonished me, “Daddy, you should be Tom Petty for Halloween—you look just like him!”
I never listened until I came home from work one October day; and, there, laid out on the bed, was a velour top hat and a blond wig from Walmart, courtesy of my daughter. To that, I added a vintage black frock coat from the late 1800s, a front-ruffled tuxedo shirt from my Down Home Band days, and a pair of John Lennon-style sunglasses.
The most memorable time I wore it was in October 2006. The Newfanglers, a Waycross band made up of songwriters and musicians, had written and recorded Blood in the Pines: The Story of Hollis Sheppard, a concept album based on a true, south Georgia tale of family-feudin', wife-beatin', ass-whippin', and murder.
We were booked to play Friday, October 27, at the Hummingbird Stage and Taproom in Macon, Georgia. The following evening, Unknown Hinson was scheduled to perform; so, we all stayed an extra night to attend in grand fashion.
Stuart Daniel Baker created his alter-ego, Unknown Hinson, for a Charlotte, North Carolina public-access TV program. Unknown, a guitar-slinging, country-singing troubadour lookin' like a grownup Eddie Munster, writes satirical songs about, among other things, trailer park queens, blowup sex dolls, and hillbilly voyeurs.
Although his show is very tongue-in-cheek, he is a master of the guitar, hired by Billy Bob Thornton to play lead and bass guitar in his band, The Boxmasters, in 2008. Stuart Baker is also famously known for his role as the voice of Early Cuyler on the Adult Swim cartoon series, Squidbillies.
October 28, 2006, found a handful of Newfanglers, along with a slew of Waycross characters, all decked out in our best Halloween fashion, dancing, laughing, and singing along with the star of the Hummingbird, Unknown Hinson. To my best recollection, there was: Lindsey Grantham Jones (Strawberry Shortcake); Ryan Crosby (The Beaver); Sarah Rogers (Bee Girl); Chris Johnson (Hunter S. Thompson); Ashley Joiner (Pirate Wench); Sean Clark (Jesus); Ty Manning (Hank Jr.); Brandon Jones (Johnny Depp-lookin' Sinbad), and Deanna Hanchey (Dolly Parton).
When it came time for the costume judging, we all stepped up as Unknown Hinson called us out one by one while the audience responded loudly, pushing me, The Beaver, and Crack-ass Refrigerator Repairman into the finalist circle.
When he held his hand over Ryan's head and said, “Let's hear it for the Beaver!”, the crowd exploded. Ryan looked at me with stars in his eyes; and, a big, beaver grin crossed his face. As happy as I was for that beaver, it was Tom Petty who won 1st Prize that night—a set of fuzzy dice for the rearview mirror and some glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth.
After the contest, we continued drinking and reveling. In the wee hours of the morning, Daron West and I were standing beside the stage. I leaned backward to rest my Tom Petty self against what I thought was the stage wall, and fell flat on my top hat head, through a curtain, on the hard stage floor.
American Spirit: Uncle Dave and The Younguns
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Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin
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