Tail of the Weak 3.5
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.
Judge Ben Smith, Jr. was married to Lynn, a beautiful, petite Florida girl. Together, they raised four children—Ben III, Bill, John Randall, and Evelyn. All the Smiths are talented souls.
Ben III is a master craftsman and woodworker; Bill and John Randall are excellent musicians; and Evelyn, an artist among artists, followed the creative brush strokes of her daddy, Judge Ben. For decades, they've been like a second family to me.
I took on the mantle of festival organizer back in 1998, hosting a backyard get-together that grew into a full-fledged weekend event called the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, now in it's 21st year.
Gram Parsons, early pioneer of Cosmic American Soul Music and member of The Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers, made his childhood home in Waycross, Georgia, where the festival is held each September.
I'm not much of a businessman; so, with the help of my good friend and attorney, Fred Kopp, we established a corporation and registered it under the name of Safe at Home Productions Inc. GP fans worldwide recognize Safe at Home as the title of the International Submarine Band's seminal 1968 album.
In 2010, I called on Evelyn Smith and asked her to design the 13th Annual GPGP Festival flyer. Following the final song at the end of that year's event, I was accosted by several local friends and musicians, asking me to please consider putting on a second music festival in the spring.
With their help and forward thinking, Swamptown Getdown Music and Arts Festival was born, debuting in March 2011 and, like the Guitar Pull, is held annually at the Okefenokee Fairgrounds. I again rang up Evelyn, this time asking for a logo; and, after a tweak here and a nudge there, we settled on a beautiful, technicolor, guitar-tailed dragonfly.
By 2014, I had returned to the well of Evelyn's artistic talent. Once again, she fashioned a stellar logo for the Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival. Through the years, her awesome talent has been splashed across t-shirts, advertisements, and banners; and, I'm proud to call her “family”.
The 8th Annual Swamptown Getdown Music and Arts Festival will take place March 9-10, 2018, at the beautiful Okefenokee Fairgrounds in Waycross, Georgia. Musically eclectic and visually artistic, the weekend event draws performers, artisans, and audiences from all around the Southeast.
Headlining the festival will be Athens, Georgia R&B rocker, Randall Bramblett. Born in Jesup, Georgia, one of Randall's early musical ventures was King David and The Slaves, a rhythm and blues group based out of the University of Georgia in Athens.
Before settling into a solo career, he was a consummate session musician, recording with Gregg Allman and Elvin Bishop. Through the years, he has toured with Allman, Widespread Panic, and Steve Winwood. Bramblett joined forces with the Allman Brothers' Chuck Leavell during the mid-Seventies in the jazz/rock/funk band, Sea Level.
Beginning in the early 70s, he has recorded a total of 14 albums, displaying his talents as an accomplished songwriter and musician of excellence. He and his band will headline the Swamptown Getdown on March 9 at 9:00 pm.
On Saturday, March 10 at 9:15 pm, the Melody Trucks Band, of Jacksonville, Florida, will bring their Allman Brothers-inspired blues to the weekend festival—and rightly so. Melody is the lead vocalist and daughter of ABB's former drummer, Butch Trucks.
Following the Melody Trucks Band at 11 pm will be Glass Camels, a very popular North Florida improvisational group inspired by the music of The Grateful Dead.
Rounding out the eclectic music mix will be Back City Woods, Big C and The Moonshynes, Bonnie Blue, Conni Laine, Copperhead South, Custard Pie, Dirty Bird and The Flu, Glass Onion, Jamie Renee and The Walkers, Lazy Pie, Michaele and The Ambiguous, NDKA, Pine Box Dwellers, Rider, Thunderbird, and Ty Manning and The Slawdog Biscuits.
Advance Weekend Passes are available at https://events.ticketprinting.com/event/Www-Stgdfest-Com-25075. The popular festival is a family-friendly, kid-friendly, and pet-friendly event. Make sure you bring along a blanket, folding chair, and cooler of whatever you prefer. There are 44 RV hookups for campers; and, tent camping is free with admission.
A few weeks ago, I was pleased to sit down with the winged creature who adorns the Swamptown Getdown stage backdrop. Eloquent, even for a dragonfly, here's what he had to say: I have seen the sun setting in the west over the fair ground of a south Georgia town.
I have hovered above an everchanging cast of incredible men and women, who lay wood to skin, flesh to steel, and fingers to ivory.
I have gazed upon the most beautiful souls as they twist and turn in painted colors releasing their joy into the skies where I live.
I am moved by the sound of a lonesome train whistle as it passes behind me in the sweet southern air.
I soar over swamplands and Spanish moss hanging from cypress trees.
I have witnessed the power of the wind and the rain as it took back the darkness in a blazing ball of fire.
My wings drape the shoulders of men who are worthy of breathing the rhythm of life so that others may feel.
My eyes are the soul of the dreamer and the artist. My body is long, lithe, and measured. My extremities are tuned in the key of a perfect roadhouse blues.
I know of the people with hearts of gold, who gather in arms, and stand as one where the ways cross.
I have felt the earth tremble with the music of Colonels, Dukes, and Deputies; Beauties and Beards; Hookers and Fanglers; Brothers and Uncles; Lions and Kittenz; Dwellers, Riders, and Walkers.
I am one with the universe. I am light-hearted, clear-headed, and a joy to behold.
I am the spirit of Swamptown Getdown.
I am the dragonfly; and, I am damn beautiful.
8th Annual Swamptown Getdown Music and Arts Festival
March 9-10, 2018
Okefenokee Fairgrounds : Waycross, Georgia
Advance Weekend Passes: https://events.ticketprinting.com/event/Www-Stgdfest-Com-25075
Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin
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