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  • Uncle Dave Griffin

Tail of the Weak 4.24

Updated: Jan 26, 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.

Well, he's the first cross-dresser in Waycross

And for this small town, that's news

And when he gets in front of a toilet—my God, that man's confused

-“Shame on the Shim” by Uncle Dave Griffin

Back during my stamp-selling days at the Waycross, Georgia Post Office, my fellow window clerks and I were visited quite often by a local—dressed in Salvation Army women's clothes. Not too terribly odd—until you stop and consider that he was a six foot, two inch male with shoulder-length, sandy blond hair.

Before I go further, let me say that I am a big proponent of “To each his own”— “Let your freak flag fly”—“Do your thing as long as it doesn't affect me”. This guy was different, though. Instead of quietly going about his business, he used his disorder to prompt, provoke, and precipitate reactions from customers and workers at the post office.

One of our window clerks, Tom Barnes, nicknamed him 'The Shim' because he couldn't decide if he was a she or a him. This moniker stuck and inspired me to go home one evening in 1997 and write a song about him/her. It's most definitely a novelty song and one that I only play occasionally.

On the weekend of March 30-31, 2012, I was invited by a couple of my singer-songwriter buddies from north Georgia—Levi Lowrey and Fester Hagood—to join them on a program called 'Singin' in the Swamp: A Weekend of Original Music'.

The first night we were onstage at local restaurant/bar, L L Creek, owned and operated by Lita Boykin and her brother, Larry Osburn. When I arrived, I spotted a couple whom I mistook for locals, striking up a conversation with Pat and Penny Jamison, just like I knew them. They let me run for a short while before finally introducing themselves as proud Levites—fans and followers of Levi Lowrey—all the way from Noblesville, Indiana.

Pat Jamison, Levi Lowrey, and Penny Jamison
Pat Jamison, Levi Lowrey, and Penny Jamison

That night, I knocked the dust off of my old, provocative song, “Shame on the Shim”, and had two new devotees for life in Pat and Penny from Indiana. The next evening, we took our three-man songwriting showcase over to Captain Stan's Smokehouse in Woodbine, Georgia. Before the night ended, one of our traveling companions fell off a barstool, taking a pretty good lump on the head in the process.

Somebody called the EMTs, prompting a visit from the local police department. They informed us that we could take our injured friend home with us, provided none of us had had anything to drink. It was clearly evident that everyone in our party had been drinking—all except for Penny Jamison of Noblesville, Indiana.

We placed our wounded warrior in Penny's car and once we crossed the Satilla River bridge outside of Woodbine, we pulled to the side of the road and swapped the battle-scarred, barstool victim into a safe seat in the back of my van.

A couple of years later, Penny called to see if I would be interested in playing a houseboat festival that she and Pat hosted on Dale Hollow Lake in Burkesville, Kentucky. A three-day music festival—living in houseboats—on a beautiful lake? Are you kidding me? To quote Mark Knopfler, “That ain't workin'!”

From September 5-7, 2014, I was introduced to the serene splendor of southern Kentucky; and, a cast of characters that I've come to know as dear friends. Lynne and I roomed on the stage houseboat, sharing space with more Indiana natives—Kevin; Pat's brother, Scott; Joel, the sound man for the weekend; and a banjo player named Jeremy. When Jeremy whipped out that banjo, I thought we were in the cast of Deliverance for a minute; but, as the weekend wore on, I came to realize that Indiana and Georgia ain't a whole lot different when it comes to country boys who love good music and hard partying.

Dale Hollow is a large, man-made lake, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1943, covering parts of Kentucky and Tennessee. Primarily used for fishing, it's also a favorite of water skiers, vacationers, and, of late, music lovers. I've been fortunate to return year after year—sharing the houseboat stage with stellar song-writers from Nashville, Atlanta, and Athens.

Uncle Dave's houseboat crew headed up by beautiful Lana Loback in blue. 2015
Uncle Dave's houseboat crew headed up by beautiful Lana Loback in blue. 2015

My lovely friend, Lana Loback—who passed away way too soon three years ago—helped me fill a houseboat in 2015 and managed to do the same in 2016 for one more talented Waycross songwriter, Sean Clark of The Pine Box Dwellers. She is loved and remembered each year by the musicians and attendees of the Dale Hollow Lake Music Festival.

A couple of years ago, Pat and Penny turned over the organizing and hosting of this awesome festival to Patty Brendel, manager of Hendricks Creek Resort, along with another loving couple, Selah West and Lawrence Nemenz, one of the talented performers at the event.

This year's gathering is set for August 15-19 and features a lineup of return performers that I now count as lovely accomplices in this business of music. The list includes myself, Cody Ray Bates, Sean Clark, Jason Ace Davis, LaLa Deaton, Nicholas Jamerson, Lawrence Nemenz, Jeanne Peterson, and Shine White.

(L-R) Front row: Sean Clark, Shine White, LaLa Deaton, Patty Brendel.  Back row: Jason Ace Davis, Taylor Goyette, Uncle Dave, Cody Ray Bates, Joel, Jeanne Petersen, Nicholas Jamerson, Lawrence Nemenz, Levi Lowrey, Jeremy.
(L-R) Front row: Sean Clark, Shine White, LaLa Deaton, Patty Brendel. Back row: Jason Ace Davis, Taylor Goyette, Uncle Dave, Cody Ray Bates, Joel, Jeanne Petersen, Nicholas Jamerson, Lawrence Nemenz, Levi Lowrey, Jeremy.

For details on how to rent a houseboat room, you can contact Patty Brendel at Hendricks Creek Resort by picking up your cell phone and dialing 270-433-7172; or you can get in touch with me—there's one more room still available on my houseboat.

Many music-loving friends from Waycross, Blackshear, Townsend, and Sylvester will be more than happy to recommend it as a relaxing, sunbathing, party-boating, soul-rejuvenating, spiritually-filling—a church service is held on Sunday—four-day getaway, with a dose of alcohol and a slice of decadence on all the other days not named Sunday.

Even now, I'm counting down the days and running over the lyrics to “Shame on the Shim”—just another little slice of decadence that endeared me forever to Pat and Penny Jamison and landed me on a houseboat on Dale Hollow Lake.

22nd Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival

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Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin

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