Tail of the Weak 2.46
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.
After dropping out of the Electronics Program at Waycross-Ware Vocational-Technical School in October 1975, I packed my red and white VW van and headed west to Valdosta, Georgia to realize a dream-come-true—playing music on the road for a living.
Homegrown, the 5-piece Waycross, Georgia band that I was a member of—along with T. Wayne Scarborough on bass guitar, lead guitarist Joe Shear, Ricky Alderman on keyboards, and drummer Bruce Wood—was hired by Eddie Middleton, former lead singer of King David and the Slaves, to back him at the Inn Place, the Holiday Inn nightclub managed by Julian E. “Boots” Tudor, Jr., a barbershop quartet singer in Valdosta.
Prior to hooking up with Middleton, Homegrown had built quite a local following, playing the music of the Allman Brothers, the Doobie Brothers, Orleans, and the Eagles—pretty much solid contemporary rock and Top 40 music. After answering the call to join up with Eddie, I was introduced to soul classics and rhythm and blues for the first time as a guitar player and vocalist. It was exhilarating! I never knew I could get on up and get on down at the same time.
We spent just two weeks at the Inn Place before being offered a lucrative job as the house band, a stone's throw away—right across I-75—at the King of the Road Motor Inn. The Red Room Lounge there was wonderfully decadent and managed by a sassy, redhead by the name of Nan Fielding.
We got right down to business—playing five hours a night, Monday through Saturday—to locals, college kids, and Air Force personnel. But first, we had to look the part. Several trips to the Famous Store and the Flye Shop in downtown Valdosta took care of our wardrobe—consisting of polyester, double knits, and stacked shoes—we couldn't help but play funkier.
Eddie Middleton, a graduate of Valdosta State College in 1970, was well-situated and had an apartment near the school. Ricky Alderman, in his final year at Waycross High, and Bruce Wood, employed full time at the Waycross Cable Company, commuted Monday-Friday down dreary, two-lane Highway 84. Joe Shear, Wayne Scarborough, and I were given our very own third-floor motel rooms at the King of the Road—just a short OTIS elevator ride between the bedroom and the Red Room.
Joe, Wayne, and Bruce were the married men in the group; while Ricky and I were left to follow Eddie's lead. Joe and Cathy Shear were still lounging in the honeymoon phase of their new marriage. Bruce Wood's wife, Lealane, was home with their two young children, while he was burning the candle at both ends. Wayne and Anne Scarborough took their kids on the road with them—three Peekapoos, the mama named Puff, mother of Huli and Poppy.
Homegrown started out each evening at the King of the Road with an 8:30 dinner set—the Red Room had three tiered levels for dining, drinking, and dancing—playing easy listening country-rock songs from Poco, America, Kenny Loggins, and the Eagles, and finishing with a blistering version of Dickey Betts's “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed”, by the Allman Brothers, which almost always brought Nan Fielding rushing to the lip of the stage, indignantly waving a red, cloth napkin and admonishing us to turn it down.
Middleton would come out next and ramp the evening up with an eclectic musical mix like something out of a Las Vegas showroom. We played everything from “Third Rate Romance” by The Amazing Rhythm Aces and Freddy Fender's “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” to “Fire” by the Ohio Players and “How Long” by Ace.
As 1975 wore down to the end, a wore down and road-weary Ricky and Bruce put in their respective notices, marking the Saturday after Christmas as their last gig with the band—but, as the saying goes—the show must go on. Hating to see them leave, in early 1976, Homegrown with Eddie Middleton would soon be sporting a new name, a new keyboard player, and a new drummer.
American Spirit: Uncle Dave and The Younguns
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Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin
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