Tail of the Weak 4.15
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.
Back in 2016, I had been reading about this place in Lynn Haven, Florida called Roberts Hall, where Americana songwriters were being featured in concert virtually every Sunday of the year. Several familiar names jumped out at me; so, I decided to get in touch with the purveyors of the laid-back event to see if they'd have me down.
I reached out to Maggie McKinney, the fairer half of the Lucky Mud musical duo that includes her hubby, Mike. We introduced ourselves on Facebook and found an instant connection as she intimated that her roots were firmly planted in the Griffin family of northwest Florida. Nice to meet you, cuz.
She went on to tell me about the historic Roberts Hall, where Hank Williams, Sr. sang in 1940. The building was constructed in 1912 by the Odd Fellows, a philanthropic fraternity that originated in 1700s London and spread to the United States in 1819.
The objectives of the Odd Fellows are to improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity and universal justice—to help make the world a better place to live by aiding each other in times of need and by organizing charitable projects and activities that would benefit the less fortunate, the youth, the elderly, the environment, and the community in every way possible.
To promote goodwill and harmony amongst peoples and nations through the principle of universal fraternity, holding the belief that all men and women regardless of race, nationality, religion, social status, gender, rank, and station are brothers and sisters—and to promote a wholesome fraternal experience without violence, vices, and discrimination of every form.
Sounds like a bunch of old hippies to me—and I do mean that lovingly. Some of their most well-known members include Charlie Chaplin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, Wyatt Earp, and Charles Lindbergh—astonishingly, not a hippie among them.
Mike and Maggie, gifted musicians and songwriters themselves, had been touring for over 46 years, spending time in the Seventies in Nashville, Tennessee, where Maggie found work as Ronnie Milsap's personal secretary while Mike pushed their original songs and ran a tape copying service in the basement of the Nashville Songwriters Association.
Disillusioned with the music business after seven years in Nashville, they moved back to northwest Florida to slow down and raise their son. By 2013, they realized that Roberts Hall could give them the musical opportunity to do something locally. As Maggie describes it—“a place where great musicians can come to a listening room and have great audiences listen to them”—thus Americana Cafe Sundays was born.
So, I laid out my resume to Maggie, conveniently name-dropping Leon Russell—who I was blessed to have opened for during a six-night run in January 2015—and sent her some of my original songs. A date was set; and, on March 26, 2017, I loaded up my wife, Lynne and granddaughter, Hannah, along with my songs and my Martin guitar, and headed down to Lynn Haven.
It was a beautiful afternoon inside a lovely, historic building, playing for an appreciative crowd of music lovers, who quickly befriended us. One of the nicest
things about our trip was when we were told that visiting musicians could also
spend several nights, before or after the Sunday show, at the Grace Note House—overlooking the waters of West Bay Creek, just a short ride from Panama City Beach.
Our four-year-old granddaughter, Hannah, was on Spring Break from her Pre-K classes; so, we made the most of the next few days playing in the sugar sand at Panama City Beach and enjoying the peaceful solitude of Grace Note, as we watched the pelicans do their thing, fed the little, red-billed Muscovy ducks, and avoided the geese down by the water.
Returning later that year for a second show, we invited Conni Laine and Enzo Centofanti—our dear songwriter/musician friends and owners of The Blue Door, a listening room in Brunswick, Georgia—to share in the musical magic of Roberts Hall and Grace Note.
Sadly, last year's Hurricane Michael tore through the panhandle of Florida, affecting lives, homes, and historic Roberts Hall, rendering it unusable. Repairs have been slow to come; but, Mike and Maggie have continued to host their musical Sundays at their own country home near Youngstown, Florida.
The couple have constructed a backyard stage out of pecky cypress wood, dredged by a good friend from the nearby Chipola River. This Sunday, April 14,
I will have the pleasure of performing at Maggie's Musical Farm and spending some quiet time with my lovely wife at Grace Note.
Hopefully, no one will pay any attention to the old “odd fellow” from Waycross, Georgia, running from the geese on West Bay Creek.
SEND CHECK OR MONEY ORDER FOR $20 TO
DAVE GRIFFIN : 950 SUNSET LN : WAYCROSS GA 31503
Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin
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