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  • Uncle Dave Griffin

Tail of the Weak 3.25

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.

Way back in 1976, I spent a great deal of time in a motel room on the third floor of the King of the Road Motor Inn over in Valdosta, Georgia, playing music with Eddie Middleton and the Down Home band.

My daily ritual was crawl out of bed after noon, ease downstairs to the KOR restaurant for some healthy meat and vegetables, pick up my clean band outfits from Duck Barnes Laundry on Baytree, band rehearsal in the KOR lounge, trip over to the Valdosta American Legion for the best grilled steak and baked potato with a side order of draft beer and billiards, shower, dress, and play music from 8:30 till 1:00 a.m.

Back in my motel room after the lounge closed, there was little to do. I had the friendly camaraderie of the boys in the band, my Magnavox stereo component system with a good selection of albums, a telephone, and a television—which in those days, went off the air at midnight.

Cable TV magnate Ted Turner.
Cable TV magnate Ted Turner.

Ted Turner changed all that on December 17, 1976, when he started beaming his Atlanta-based Channel 17 via satellite around the country, putting a big smile on the faces of touring musicians like myself and insomniacs all over the south.

The programming on TV station WTCG, as it was known then, was mostly old movies, sitcom reruns, Atlanta Braves baseball, and late night, comical newscasts delivered by on-air personality Bill Tush. Originally a radio disc jockey in 1965 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Tush's three a.m. newscasts were cult legend for their humor and satire. He would often read the news with his co-anchor, Rex, a German Shepherd dressed in a shirt and tie.

By 1980, the station had been renamed WTBS and was being carried on cable providers in all 50 states. Bill Tush was given his own late-night sketch comedy and variety show, Tush, featuring the talents of Jan Hooks, Terry Turner, and Bonnie Turner, future Saturday Night Live alumni.

Tush lasted about a year; but, reruns of the show carried on until May 28, 1983. One week later, its time slot was filled with a six-hour program featuring music videos, Night Tracks. As a new father, I welcomed the early morning entertainment of Hall and Oates, Duran Duran, and A Flock of Seagulls, rockin' and rollin' with my daughter, Megan, cradled in my arms.

Another early-morning WTCG sketch was the insane irreverence of Reflections with Brother Gold, featuring a heavy, bespectacled gentleman dressed in a pulpit robe and preaching modern song lyrics from a big book.

The commercials were entertaining as well. The one that stands out most to me is one that I have quoted from for years; and, I was happy to find it on YouTube—the Party Ring. I'm sure the makers of the Party Ring were as serious as could be and they probably sold a ton of 'em; but, I saw it as serious comedic fare with “Super Bad” acting.

We sure have come a long way since Ted Turner blazed the trail, opening the door for the cable television revolution that now finds us with more channels than we could ever want to watch. Kids, pet owners, kitchen chefs, home renovators, shoppers, or garden enthusiasts—there's certainly a channel streamlined just for you.

As I called ATT several weeks ago to tell them I was canceling my subscription to U-Verse, I thought about Bruce Springsteen's prophetic 1992 song, “57 Channels (And Nothin' On)”—one less bill to pay. The only shows we watched around here were Braves baseball games, the news, an occasional movie, and classic reruns of The Golden Girls. It just made sense.

Not having any TV was harder than I thought it would be; but, with the advent of digital media players, like Google Chromecast Nexus Player or Roku Streaming Player, we bought an Amazon Fire TV Stick, and with the money saved by dropping our cable package, we ordered a monthly subscription from Hulu, a streaming media service loaded with shows.

Between my son Justin's Netflix account and Hulu—which gives me my Braves games and Lynne, her Golden Girls—I am firmly implanted in the future of television. The amount of quality programming and incredible acting has had me lying in bed and binge-watching episodes of Peaky Blinders, The Handmaid's Tale, Gypsy, Easy, and Daredevil, to the point my back hurts.

I suppose there are trade-offs with everything; and, with all the money that I've saved, I can surely afford a visit to the chiropractor.

American Spirit: Uncle Dave and The Younguns

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Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin

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