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.
James Cocke sat in Waycross, Georgia's Hickory Wind Music Store, smiling at all the friends, family, and curiosity seekers who had come to hear a story or buy an autographed copy of his self-published book, Cocke Tales: Memoirs of a Redneck Hippy.
I was reminded of a summer afternoon growin' up on Doghill, when James, my brother Gary, and I sat in his back porch bedroom, hammering out the words of a certain best-seller, the sequel to Savage Sam, a 1963 movie we'd just got back from watching downtown at the old Ritz Theater. Even then, we dreamed like poets.
Three days from today will mark my second anniversary as a blogger. I hold my old childhood friend, nextdoor neighbor, and Valdosta, Georgia book author, James Cocke, responsible for this wild ride I've chosen to take over the past two years. He messaged me on Facebook at 9:01 pm on July 18, 2016 with a simple question, “You ever think about bloggin'?” to which I replied unemotionally, “Not really.”
That's not exactly true, because I had considered writing a memoir of sorts—even going as far as committing six or seven paragraphs to two separate chapters of a book that never got beyond August 3, 2015. When I read James's question, I thought to myself, “I ain't got time to write a blog.”
I do stay fairly occupied, what with writing songs when the muse decides to pay me a visit—planning and putting on two yearly music festivals: Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival and Swamptown Getdown Music and Arts Festival—and playing solo gigs around and about the southeast.
Over the next week, James's words kept muddlin' around in the back of my mind until finally, I decided that I did have things to say, stories to tell, and some musical history to impart.
Growin' up the son of a 20-year Air Force serviceman, whose travels took the family to Tripoli, Libya when I was a tadpole of four, only to have my 1959 Christmas day cowboy outfit hand-peeled and stolen off my body by five dastardly Arab boys. There's a story.
Playin' and travelin' the U.S. throughout the mid-Seventies in a nightclub band, Eddie Middleton and Down Home, whereupon I would meet and party with Dickey Betts as he picked my ol' Takamine acoustic guitar in my bedroom at the Courtesy Court Motel in Macon, Georgia. Another goodun.
So, six days after my ol' friend suggested I blog, I sat down on July 24 and I did blog—about a husband and wife songwriting team out of Moultrie, Georgia, who made the big time with hit songs recorded by The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, and a who's who of musical greats—and it felt good.
I settled on a name for the blog, intentionally misspelling the words, Tail of the Weak, and started up an “Uncle Dave's Tail of the Weak” Facebook page. After a month or so of steady bloggin', I realized that the domain I had purchased for my music festival websites had a built-in blog template—enabling me to insert pictures, add tags, and schedule the date and time for the “tails” to hit the internet.
Kelly Davis backed me from the beginning, with words of sweet encouragement; and, little by mostly little, my online readership grew. Three months later, it was James Cocke once again, lobbying for my brother, Gary, Managing Editor of the Waycross Journal-Herald, to run a Tail of the Weak column in the local newspaper. I'm surprised and humbled when a stranger walks up in Walmart to tell me how much they enjoy my weekly musings.
Six months ago, James Cocke—I see a pattern evolving here—emailed me the address of Mike Orenduff, a sure enough writer of murder mysteries and most recently, chief editor of Aakenbaaken & Kent Publishing.
Mr. Orenduff offered to publish James's upcoming book, Margaret B. Long: The Jewel of Jacksonville, a collection of his Aunt Margie's newspaper columns in the Florida Times Union from the 40s and 50s.
Orenduff also extended me a book publishing contract for Tail of the Weak, after reading several of my stories; and, as of last month, I became the Southern Music Scene author for Southland Magazine, a bimonthly faith, family, and southern tradition publication owned and operated by Trey and Lesa Dixon of Statesboro, Georgia—and available for free at convenience stores and businesses all over the southeast.
About a week later, a package arrived in my mailbox. Inside was the June/July issue of Southland Magazine, containing my first article, a couple of back issues, and a $50 check made out to me. You would've thought that Santa Claus had come six months prematurely.
Even then, we dreamed like poets. Even now, it's nice to have a little piece of that dream come true.
American Spirit: Uncle Dave and The Younguns Download or Buy
Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin
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