Tail of the Weak 3.31
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.
The burned out shell of a New York City cab was slowly being wenched up on the back of a flatbed wrecker, which had the small two-lane street blocked momentarily. As New York minutes go, that was way too long for a frustrated motorist who decided to lay angrily on his horn.
“Shut da fuck up!” yelled the tow truck operator over and over as the motorist responded with horn blasts again and again. The kids I was chaperoning giggled like schoolboys; and, I have to say it was as real as it gets—a true Big Apple moment.
The Ware County High School Band had scheduled a mid-April 2011 trip to perform at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Dovetailed around that performance was several trips to downtown New York City and a visit to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to hear the New York Philharmonic.
Andrea Weaver, mother of Tyler Merritt, fine lead guitarist and Ware High band student, had paid to go on the trip but had to back out at the last minute. She called and asked if I would chaperone in her place. Never having been to The City So Nice, They Named It Twice, I jumped at the opportunity.
Wednesday April 13, we boarded the tour buses behind Ware County High and drove all night—a restless night to say the least, filled with the constant nonsensical banter of teenage boys. When we arrived the next day, we all spilled out onto the streets of Chinatown in Lower Manhattan.
I was in charge of my son's rock and roll band, The Other Guys—Connor Griffin, Caleb Lee, Tyler Merritt, and Jody Rollins—so, I hailed a cab that took us to Greenwich Village, the bohemian district at the cutting edge of the arts over several generations. I was thrilled to be walking the same streets as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, and Salvadore Dali had done.
The Other Guys were bored to tears; so, we humped it back up the sidewalks, joining the rest of the group to take the subway to the Empire State Building for a magnificent view of The City of Dreams from the 86th floor observation deck. I was happy they had an elevator—otherwise it would've been 1,576 steps up and 1,576 down, at which point this blog would never have been written, for I would have died in the lobby.
We dined at the very fashionable Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and used their nice restrooms to change into our dress clothes for a show on Broadway. One half of our entourage chose The Lion King—our half went to The Majestic Theatre for The Phantom of the Opera. The theatre itself was majestically lavish, the seats were comfortable, and the performance was thrilling—the parts that I saw when I wasn't falling asleep.
After a night in a New Jersey Holiday Inn, the group headed out for an afternoon band competition at Montclair State University, followed by a 30-minute drive to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark for a performance by the world-renowned New York Philharmonic.
The lights dimmed and one of the last old-style maestros, German-born conductor, Kurt Masur was introduced. I cannot describe the feeling that washed over me during the first notes of Franz Liszt's Les Préludes, Symphonic Poem No. 3, after Lamartine. I can tell you that I cried like a baby at the 2 minute-23 second mark, when the timeless, classical music grabbed me by the heart.
Saturday April 16, we headed back to Times Square for lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, sightseeing at Grand Central Station, and a nibble at an authentic New York City hot dog vendor.
Fellow chaperone Michael Bramletta and I walked the cold streets of Gotham in the biting wind. Being from Chicago, Michael said they call that wind “The Hawk”. Being as I come from Waycross, I told him it was as cold as my ex-wife in a courtroom.
We climbed back on the buses for the long journey back to Waycross, Georgia. It was a little less boisterous compared to the trip up to The City That Never Sleeps. That moniker applies to chaperones on high school band buses as well.
21st Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival Advance 3-Day Passes:
Valuable resources courtesy of Joseph "Jody" Rollins
Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin
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