Tail of the Weak 4.6
Updated: Jan 27
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.
As a local outdoor music festival promoter, I've seen a few things over the years—from males and females wishing to pay tribute to Ray Stevens's legendary 1974 nudity ditty, “The Streak”—from gracious celebrities who gave magical musical performances to former stars who snubbed their fans and insulted sound crews with rude rhetoric—from storms that came up out of nowhere to inclement weather that mysteriously gave way to beautiful skies.
One thing I've learned is that you can't control the human condition or Mother Nature—they can both be problematic; but, in the end, most humans will comply in the face of reason and storms will pass, leaving behind heroes, hugs, and harmony.
On April 24, 2015, music lovers attending the 5th Annual Swamptown Getdown Music and Arts Festival, were blown away by the legendary, late, great Col. Bruce Hampton backed by The Madrid Express.
By the time Saturday evening rolled around, Zach Deputy, one-man band of mythical proportions, was halfway into his second number when the rains came. And, when I say rains—I mean slashing, monsoon-like liquid moisture.
I was at my usual location—next to the red caboose, underneath the big Prime South Bank tent securely staked to the fairground floor—along with festival staffer Jim Halasa, old Nashville music buddy Dave Burns, and Swamptown attendees Conn and Trudy Cole. We all watched the scary sequence of events unfold.
The rain was blowing hard from the south, past the stage, and into the faces of the festival audience. In a split-second of muted hush, the wind stopped, changed direction, and hurled an onslaught of destruction from the northwest corner of the fairgrounds, toppling end over end, Eden's Rose, one of the healthiest Grateful Dead vendor tents ever erected at a festival, until it was a mass of twisted iron and canvas a few feet in front of the stage.
I watched the little $50 canopy belonging to food vendor, Panic Stricken Chicken Shack, sail 30 feet upward, landing at the top of the power pole located behind the Exchange Club building, detonating the transformer in a huge fireball of electrical sparks.
Boom! Out went the lights. People were screaming off in all directions, as the stout, metal legs on the tent covering me and my friends jumped off their stakes and began to flap in the wind like one of those blow-up characters on a used car lot.
Jim Halasa and Dave Burns both caught the force of wind-driven, metal tent pole on their heads. I was very delicate and managed to duck out of the way, as I pushed the Cole couple and the wounded toward the safety of the red caboose.
All of this happened in a mere matter of seconds and the worst of it was over. I emerged from the caboose and began my search for casualties. As a promoter, I would think that death at your music festival would be a serious public relations matter.
Thank God no bodies were seriously harmed save for Dave Burns—who hasn't been back anytime lately—although the pop-ups, awnings, and canopies littered the ground like broken warriors following a hard-fought battle. The only other casualty belonged to the windshield of Ty Manning's vehicle, which was parked below the transformer pole and caught a pop-up leg straight through the glass.
Swamptown Getdown 2015 ended with a bang, the power outage cutting short the rest of the music—canceling the return of the Woodgrains, Back From the Brink,
dangfly!, Chillakaya1, and Lowdive—but those that weathered the storm gathered together around a large fire in the campground, playing harmonicas and acoustic guitars, and channeling peace, love, and harmony, thankful that everyone was okay.
The 9th Annual Swamptown Getdown takes place March 15-16 this year and will feature a superb lineup of music from around the southeast. Friday night's music features Waycross band, Brothers Still, at 6pm—Justin Spivey Band at 7pm—Royal Johnson at 8pm—Rider at 9pm—stellar steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier at 10pm—
daughter of Southern rock royalty and Allman Brothers drummer, Butch Trucks, Melody Trucks Band at 11:30pm—2018's Georgia Country Band of the Year, The Pine Box Dwellers at 12:30am—and Electric Owl at 1:30am.
Saturday kicks off with Thunderbird at 2pm—Coco and His Nillaz at 3pm—Ty Manning and The Slawdog Biscuits at 4pm—Them Vagabonds at 5pm—Back City Woods at 6pm—Dirty Bird and The Flu at 7pm—Lazy Lightning at 8pm—Pine Box Dwellers second coming at 9pm—Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio at 10pm—Bonnie Blue at 11:30pm—and Custard Pie at 12:30am.
Food and arts/craft vendors will be in abundance over the weekend. Onsite RV hookups are plentiful in the campground area and tent camping is free with admission. Children 12 and under are allowed in free. Pets are welcome as long as they are leashed.
To purchase online Early Bird Advance Weekend Passes, VIP Passes, and RV hookups, simply visit www.stgdfest.com, where you'll find a wealth of information about the event. Waycross and Ware County residents can purchase Advance Weekend Passes locally at Breezy's Boutique, Hickory Wind Music, and James Engraving.
I'd also like to thank the generous sponsors, without whom the Okefenokee Fairgrounds in mid-March would be a lot of grass with no music to waft above and no people to get down upon.
They are Budweiser, Big Tickets, Applebee's, Breezy's Boutique, Crews Forestry Services, Dick's Wings, Dr. Craig and Sandy Kubik, Frames by Mary Ann, Hickory Wind Music, Hickory Wind Studios, iHeart Media, James Engraving, The Medicine Cabinet, Sikes Bottled Water Distribution, Vyve Broadband, Waycross Coca-Cola, Waycross Journal-Herald, Whitaker's Golf Carts, Wong's Palace Restaurant, and Yarbrough Printing.
As the promoter, I'm hoping we have a blowout—uh, well—let me just say that everyone's invited and I hope you all come. Please wear your clothes and leave your storms at home.
9th Annual Swamptown Getdown Music and Arts Festival
March 15-16 : Okefenokee Fairgrounds : Waycross, Georgia
For Early Bird Weekend Passes:
Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin
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