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  • Uncle Dave Griffin

Tail of the Weak 4.26

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.

In 1968-69, my sophomore year at Ware County High School, I struck up a friendship with Robbin King, a fellow classmate in Band and Biology.

We shared a lot of common interests—music, sports, and sound upbringings. Robbin was the youngest of several siblings raised up a good 12 miles from my house—out Jamestown Road—firmly planted in the country. Surrounded by farmland and pecan orchards, his home was only a short tractor ride from the

banks of the winding, brown water of the Satilla River.

During the summer of 1970, I landed an afternoon job in the Waycross Journal-Herald advertising department. I spent most nights with Grandma Carter in her house trailer situated in our backyard. After Granddaddy passed away in 1966, she moved off the Hoboken, Georgia farm and set up housekeeping behind her two eldest daughters on Doghill.

I would lie in the back bedroom of her mobile home, listening to WACL or WAYX on the little clock radio till the dying strains of “The Star Spangled Banner” signed off into the night. Come the morning, I'd join my grandma for conversation over a bowl of Kellog's cornflakes before setting out to Robbin's house on the other side of the county.

If we weren't listening to “Ride Captain Ride” by Tampa-based band, Blues Image, or a vast assortment of other 45 rpm records, then we were out in the backyard with baseball and gloves—hurling pop-ups, slinging line drives, and rolling grounders—simulating a shade tree game by our beloved Atlanta Braves.

If we weren't listening to music or playing ball, then we'd take the tractor down to the river and float aimlessly, dreaming about our senior year that lay within spitting distance.

I had just enough time for a lazy swim before beating it back up through the woods to the house—where Robbin's mama's refrigerator always had sweet iced tea and homegrown tomatoes—for a quick sandwich lunch ahead of my afternoon job.

Robbin and I were two pretty ordinary south Georgia boys—who, like most folks around here, believed that when you died, your soul went to Atlanta. We ended up seeing our first concert the next summer—Mylon Lefevre opened for Joe Walsh and The James Gang—at the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium.

While rooming together at Georgia Southern in the fall of 1971, we drove from Statesboro to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium for a Grand Funk Railroad concert on October 2.

Souvenir map of Six Flags Over Georgia.  c. 1970
Souvenir map of Six Flags Over Georgia. c. 1970

But, I'm gettin' ahead of myself. It was still the summer of '70 when we hatched a plan to visit Six Flags Over Georgia on 4th of July weekend. Six Flags had only opened three years earlier; and, seein' as how it was 2,193 miles closer than Disneyland, it was on our list. It would be another year before Disney World opened its gates in Orlando.

By Disney entertainment standards, Half-a-Dozen Flags was about half as good; but, it dazzled compared to the Okefenokee Swamp Park, which we had worn out by the early Seventies. Interestingly enough, Tales of the Okefenokee was one of the popular, earliest rides at Six Flags.

Among the other sights and sounds were the Log Jamboree—a double log flume ride guaranteed to wet even the wettest-behind-the-ears; Sky Buckets sky ride that spanned the sections of the park; Dahlonega Mine Train roller coaster; a low-key train ride circling the grounds aboard the Six Flags Railroad; an even lower-key Hanson Antique Car Ride; and Krofft Puppet Theatre, Chevy Show Cinema, and the Crystal Pistol, offering a Wild West shootout in the streets.

I don't recall where we stayed that Independence Day night; but, somewhere along the way, I bought the new Moody Blues 8-track tape, A Question of Balance. We were strolling down I-75, right below Macon, listening to Justin Hayward's opening track—the moving, acoustic 12-string guitar-driven “Question”—when traffic began to slow, as shirtless, long-haired guys and beautiful, scantily-clad chicks walked up and down the shoulders of the interstate highway.

Little had we known that the best ticket in the state was happening in a soybean field next to the Middle Georgia Speedway in the little ol' town of Byron. The 2nd Atlanta International Pop Festival was in full swing; and, like Woodstock a year earlier—it was advertised as three days of peace, love, music—and nudity.

Among the artists on stage that weekend were The Allman Brothers Band, Goose Creek Symphony, Grand Funk Railroad, Hampton Grease Band with Col. Bruce, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Richie Havens, B.B. King, Poco, Procol Harum, Rare Earth, Bob Seger System, Spirit, Ten Years After, and Johnny Winter.

In the years to come, I not only saw many of the acts on that esteemed ledger of performers; but, I also booked quite a few of them—in some faction or another—at my hometown music festivals, the Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and the Swamptown Getdown. All Robbin King and I could do, in July of 1970, was ride by wide-eyed in his daddy's station wagon—innocently wondering at the cosmic goings-on.

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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