Tail of the Weak 4.27
Updated: Jan 26
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.
Of all the things she could give me—to outlast all time
It was the joy of a sweet boy so fine
– “Mother of my Son” by Uncle Dave Griffin
During the Christmas season of 1998, I wrote a song dedicated to my wife, who five years earlier had given birth to my one and only son, Connor. I spent the long holiday days at the Waycross, Georgia post office—selling stamps at the front counter to stamp lickers—and, after work over a couple weeks, I'd ease out to Jeff McDonald's home studio to record the song, intent on having it ready by Jesus's birthday.
Owing to the surprise factor involving the resulting CD stocking stuffer, I had to be very secretive. All my wife knew was that I was spending a lot of nights out of the house. Come Christmas morning, she was relieved to find out that I had just been laying down keyboards, vocals, and guitars, instead of some festive floozy.
On Thanksgiving weekend that year, we held the 1st Annual Griffin Guitar Pull—over the last 21 years, the festival outgrew my backyard and evolved into the Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, held yearly in late September at the Okefenokee Fairgrounds in Waycross.
My five-year-old son, Connor, brought the house down that weekend with a note-perfect rendering of George Harrison's sitar-influenced song from The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's album, “Within You, Without You”. Safe to say, the young'un didn't stand a chance. Being a huge Beatles fan myself, Connor was raised heavily on 1960s Liverpudlian folk melodies.
He bought into the music of The Beatles so wholeheartedly that he adopted the persona of John Lennon—complete with British accent—and for several weeks drove his brothers and sister mad.
Lynne—the mother of my son—had been called for a meeting with his Williams Heights second grade school teacher, Mrs. Franklin Pinckney. Connor's teacher complained that he was refusing to answer the roll when his name was called. She supported her story with the following student-teacher exchange.
Mrs. P: “Connor?” *SILENCE* “Connor Griffin?” *SILENCE* “Connor, why aren't you answering me?
Connor [in full John Lennon mode]: “Missus Pinckney, from hereon, would you please refer to me as John Lennon?”
Needless to say, Mrs. P was flustered. My wife told her that as long as his grades were good and he wasn't causing anyone around him bodily harm, then why not just let it run it's course.
A few days later, Lynne changed her tune when Connor insisted on calling her Julia—the name of Lennon's dead mother. The personality crisis finally came to an end, only to be replaced—after seeing Shrek the following year—by Eddie Murphy's sass-mouthed Donkey.
This early fascination with voices and characters has served my son well. Since his teens, Connor has found a home on the stage, acting in high school plays, independent films, local productions, and University of Georgia dramas. Last month, he became the instructor at a summer theater camp for children, sponsored by Purlie Productions and Okefenokee Heritage Center in Waycross.
His initial love of music has also taken hold. He is currently drumming in two groups—Athens, Georgia's Ty Manning and the Slawdog Biscuits and Waycross's Pine Box Dwellers, 2018 Georgia Country Band of the Year. I find it somewhat serendipitous and just a little bit cosmic, that Connor shares the same birthday with another outstanding drummer—who, like my son, espouses the virtues of peace and love.
Today marks the dual birthday celebrations of Ingram Connor Griffin and Sir Richard Starkey—Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr. So, with a little help from my friends—and in my best John Lennon voice—I'd like to wish them both the happiest of days.
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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