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  • Uncle Dave Griffin

Tail of the Weak 4.32

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.

Ingram Cecil Connor III. Williams Heights Elementary School pic. Waycross, Georgia. 1955
Ingram Cecil Connor III. Williams Heights Elementary School pic. Waycross, Georgia. 1955

Ingram Cecil Connor III spent the first 12 years of his life in Waycross, Georgia. After his father's unfortunate and untimely death during Christmas 1958, his mother moved Gram and younger sister, Little Avis, to her former home in the Snively family orange groves of Winter Haven, Florida.

Music was Gram's haven—an escape from the grief he found difficult to express after his father passed away. Big Avis remarried to Bob Parsons, a slick-handed businessman from Louisiana, who adopted the Connor children, changing their last name to his—thus changing how the world would come to know the young man who altered the landscape of music in the late Sixties.

Gram Parsons was influenced by and was an influence on a revolving cast of characters during his ascent to rock and roll visionary. Jim Stafford and Kent LaVoie (Lobo) were early band mates in Winter Haven; songwriter John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas; Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn of The Byrds; Rolling Stones Keith Richards; Bernie Leadon of The Eagles; and Emmylou Harris, the protege to his mentor.

International Submarine Band. Clockwise from top: Gram Parsons, Mickey Gauvin, John Nuese, Ian Dunlop.
International Submarine Band. Clockwise from top: Gram Parsons, Mickey Gauvin, John Nuese, Ian Dunlop.

One of the most colorful of Parsons associates was Ian Dunlop, a Boston bass player, who was a founding member of The International Submarine Band, formed in 1965 while Gram was enrolled at Harvard University. Dunlop, also a graphic artist, was responsible for the artwork that adorned ISB's only album, Safe at Home.

Musical differences followed the band's move from the East Coast to Los Angeles; and, Ian began jamming in and around the clubs of L.A. with friends—among them, Leon Russell, guitarist Jesse Ed Davis, and future Rolling Stones saxophonist Bobby Keys. Inspired by the traveling minstrel and medicine shows of the late 1800s, Dunlop came up with a name for the loosely organized jam band, calling themselves The Flying Burrito Brothers.

The musical experiment didn't last; but the Flying Burrito Brothers name was picked up by Gram following his departure from The Byrds in 1969. Tiring of the lifestyle and smog of L.A., Dunlop eventually left town in a Volkswagen bus, headed cross-country to Boston. Soon after, he made Cornwall, England his home, where he continues to make music and art.

Ian, Aunt Lynne, and Uncle Dave having a kitchen songwriting session at home
Ian, Aunt Lynne, and Uncle Dave having a kitchen songwriting session at home

I had the pleasure of meeting Ian Dunlop in 2008, after booking him to appear at the 11th Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival—a musical gathering that began in my backyard in 1998. We chatted over beers at a local watering hole before inviting him to spend the night at my home. My wife and I were entertained the rest of the evening, with musical stories from this colorful character from Cornwall. By night's end, it felt like we'd known each other for years.

While in town, Ian soaked up the sounds, rhythms, and songs of other Waycross troubadours—Sean Clark and Billy Ray Herrin—writing songs with me and recording the originals in Jesse Herrin's Hickory Wind Studio.

The results of his visit were mutually satisfying to everyone involved and we welcomed him back the following year. In fact, he has become such a part of our lives, that he's headlined eight Guitar Pulls over the past 11 years.

Ian Dunlop will once again be welcomed to the 22nd Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, September 26-28, at the Okefenokee Fairgrounds in Waycross. Joining him will be Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter, Jim Lauderdale—Nashville-based singer-songwriter, Doug Seegers—and Hearts & Flowers' Larry Murray, another former Waycross boy whose songs have been recorded by some of the biggest names in the music business.

Rounding out the musical weekend will be 26 additional main stage acts and a Thursday night campground concert featuring stellar songwriters, Abe Partridge, Marlin Brackett, and Rob McNurlin.

Advance 3-Day : Weekend : Daily : and VIP Passes and RV Camping reservations can be purchased online by visiting The spacious onsite campground features 56 RV hookups, bathroom and shower facilities, and plenty of room for tent camping.

Vendors offering a variety of food and beverages, handmade jewelry and soaps, clothing, art, guitars, and crafts will be on hand all weekend. Children 12 and under are admitted free and leashed pets are welcome. Special thanks go out to all of the following businesses and individuals:

Acme Pharmacy of Homerville GA; Applebee's; Atlanta Vintage Guitars; Atlantic Coast Bank; Breezy's Boutique; Cheers Package Store; Craig and Sandy Kubik; Crews Forestry Services; Duncan and Associates Surveying and Mapping; Frames by Mary Ann; Fred Kopp; Georgia Sea Grill of St. Simons GA; Gibson Animal Clinic; Golden Rule Refiners of Claxton GA; Grid Iron Grill; Guy's Automotive; Hickory Wind Music; and Hickory Wind Studios.

iHeart Media; James Engraving; LSB Inspections; Medicine Cabinet; Merle Norman Waycross-Tuscan Sky Salon; Middleton Plumbing of Statesboro GA; Millennium Sound; PVP Studio of Waynesville NC; Quality Inn; Rainbow Drug Store of Brunswick GA; Sikes Bottled Water Distribution; T and T Fencing; Thornton Bros. Construction; Vyve Broadband; Waycross Coca-Cola; Waycross Journal-Herald; West Georgia Gastroenterology Associates; Whitaker's Golf Carts; Wong's Palace Restaurant; and Yarbrough Printing.

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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