I am always playing music in the office. I mean ALWAYS. Below is a list of my most played CDs at present. It’s just another blatant attempt at influencing your musical tastes. Some of the discs are new, some old. Hey, you gotta mix it up, right? That said, I hope you will write in the comments below and tell me if you also dig any of these, or turn me onto your personal favorites. Thanks.
Man oh man. I must be dreaming. That was the best Grammy Awards show in at least ten years. Over the past few years I have come to the conclusion that the Grammys were all about rap, hip hop, and all the music the 16 year olds are listening to. I am happy to say that last night turned all of that around. Sure, there were a couple of performances that didn’t appeal to this middle ages writer, but there were many that did. Not the least of which was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, opening the festivities full tilt boogie with his new song “We Take Care of Our Own.” Now that’s the way to kick off a party. It was truly cool to see Paul McCartney on the front row rocking out to The Boss. The only sad part was the missing man. I’m talking about The Big Man. Do I have to say his name? Clarence Clemons. When we lost Clarence we lost a musical giant.
Now, the media , of course, jumped on Springsteen for opening the song by screaming “America, are you alive out there?” They claimed that it was inappropriate due to the passing of Whitney Houston the day before. What they don’t understand is that Bruce starts shows with that line all the time, from the lyrics of his song “Radio Nowhere.” See. It’s things like this that make me hate the media. I can say that because I was a newspaper and radio reporter for over 25 years. They love to look for the negative. I never did. I guess that' why I'm not doing newspapers for a living.
Case in point. The late Whitney Houston. The media is treating her death like such an unexpected tragedy. It was by no means a surprise to me. Ever since she hooked up with Bobby Brown years ago she has had a drug addiction problem, one that threatened to take her life several times over the years. Like so many, I prayed that she would be able to shake the addiction demons, but in the end, it appears they won out. So sad. And what about the fact that Whitney is being praised as one of the greatest singers of all time by the same people who ripped her to shreds over the years because of that addiction? What’s wrong with this picture? They did the same thing with Michael Jackson. Two faced bastards.
The beautiful voice that was Whitney Houston was paid tribute several times during the evening, with host L.L. Cool J opening with a prayer. Pretty classy. And Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You” was so beautiful I had my eyes well up with tears.
Speaking of tributes, I was very happy to see the great Etta James remembered in song by Bonnie Raitt and Alicia Keys. Good stuff.
Foo Fighters simply rocked it out, and the Beach Boys tribute was fantastic, especially when the real deal showed up to deliver “Good Vibrations.” At nearly 70, Mike Love, Brian Wilson and the boys were harmonizing like solid gold.
The tribute to Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Glen Campbell was nice, with The Band Perry and Blake Shelton, leading up to Glen himself bringing the house to its feet with “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Still sounding great while fighting Alzheimer's. What a great singer/songwriter and guitar player.
Katie Perry went Gaga on us and Taylor Swift came off as a second rate bluegrass picker, although she did sing well. There were some stellar moments during the show, including the biggest winner of the night, Adele. Now, I really like this girl. She makes singing look effortless, and her voice is strong and pure, her songs are all great. I was so happy to see a real person win so big, a girl that is not the typical skinny rock star; a girl who actually used the word “snot” during her acceptance speech for album of the year. Adele is the real deal.
Of course, the greatest moment of the evening came via Paul McCartney. Having already wowed everyone with a song, accompanied by Joe Walsh and Diana Krall, Sir Paul closed out the show with a rocking Beatles medley, “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight” that sent cold chills up the backs of everyone, especially us middle aged folk. The song ended with an all out guitar jam, with Joe Walsh, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl just rocking out. It may have been the greatest Grammy moment I have personally ever seen.
The single biggest disappointment for me was not having The Allman Brothers Band there to accept their Lifetime Achievement Awards. Rumors had been raging that not only would they be there, but that they would be performing once again with Dickey Betts. I found out later that the Brothers had accepted their award during the pre-Grammy show the night before. Thanks to Relix Magazine, we are happy to include that video below. No band deserves the award more.
Even with no Allman, I applaud The Grammys for an overall rocking show. Maybe there is still hope for the music world.
- Michael Buffalo Smith
The Allman Brothers Band receive Lifetime Achievement Awards.
This Saturday, February 4, on SiriusXM’s Outlaw Country (Channel 60), there will be a radio special that is certain to go down in the history books. Recorded in front of a live studio audience at the SiriusXM Music City Theatre in Nashville, Tennessee, the all-star celebration of Waylon Jennings features the outlaw’s songs and stories from Hank Williams Jr., Jessi Colter, Shooter Jennings, Jamey Johnson, and Josh Thompson (all of whom share the stage together, accompanied by guitar legend Reggie Young and wife Jenny on cello), as well as audience members Billy Joe Shaver, Cowboy Jack Clement, and Jennings’ longtime drummer/producer, Richie Albright. The hour-long special, hosted by Outlaw Country’s Hillbilly Jim, features songs from WAYLON: The Music Inside, a three-volume collection of songs dedicated to Jennings’ music... Yes, the Rock Legends Cruise will return! The second sailing is set for January 10, 2013! The Marshall Tucker Band, Molly Hatchet, and The Artimus Pyle Band are already booked. Watch this space for details and band listings as they become available... The Wanee lineup has been announced.The Allman Brothers Band will play 2 nights - April 20 and 21, 2012. Furthur - play 2 nights, April 20 and 21. Other artists include Gov't Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, Buddy Guy, Bruce Hornsby, Mickey Hart Band, Hot Tuna Electric, Ray Manzarek & Roy Rogers Band, Leftover Salmon, North Mississippi Allstars, Trigger Hippy, Soja, Conspirator, Eoto, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Particle, Devon Allman's Honeytribe, Zach Deputy, Matt Schofield, Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio, Big Sams Funky Nation, Charles Bradley, Bonerama, Jacob Jeffries Band, The Yeti Trio, Bonnie Blue. Tickets on sale now. Music starts April 19 at 2:30pm. Check the Wanee website for full details... The Allman Brothers Band will perform ten shows beginning Friday, March 9, 2012 at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. Tickets on sale now. Dates, March 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25... Though he never actually retired from touring—as he claimed a few years ago—Dickey Betts has limited his nights on the road recently. But the guitarist will tour in 2012. Dickey Betts & Great Southern will pay select dates in March, April and June, with the possibility that additional shows will be added in the coming months. In the final few months of 2011, Betts performed with both onetime Great Southern/Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dan Toler and Gregg Allman’s son Devon. In other news, Betts has confirmed that he will attend the 2012 Grammy Awards, where the Allman Brothers Band will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. A note on the guitarist’s Facebook page says, “We are very proud and excited to announce that the Allman Brothers Band was been honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be presented to the band at the 2012 Grammy Awards, taking place on Sunday, February 12. Dickey Betts will be on hand to accept the award along with the other members of the band. This will be an exciting and historic moment that you do not want to miss!” There is no word yet as to whether Betts will perform with his former band. •
Our friend Charlie Daniels posted this today at charliedaniels.com. A very nice memorial to Taz DiGregorio, who would have celebrated his 68th birthday today. Buff
January 8, 2012 would have been the 68th birthday of William Joel DiGregorio known to all you folks as Taz.
Taz played keyboards in my band for over 40 years, and though I know he's gone, it seems occasionally when the band is playing some old tune that Taz and I played together so many times, I find myself half expecting to hear some run or pet lick he played at a particular time in a song.
We put in millions of miles together and have shared so many experiences, some mundane, some unique, but always together.
I remember the day we got put in jail in Jefferson Parrish, Louisiana for disturbing the peace, the night when we found out about the Skynyrd plane crash, being stuck in the snow on a Colorado mountainside, the time we took a picture with an Eskimo in Greenland, the night terrorists shot at our helicopter over Baghdad.
So many miles, so, many Taz memories, so many motel rooms, so many concerts. Good, bad, up, down or sideways, he was always there just stage right of me banging on those keyboards like nobody else could.
I loved Taz and he loved me, I know because we told each other so many times.
To borrow a phrase from the great Bob Hope, "Thanks for the memories".
I wrote this poem in tribute to our friendship, the music we created and played and the millions of miles we traveled together.
Remembering a Friend
I remember when I met you all those many years ago
At that crummy little motel just outside of Orlando
That's where we both were staying, 'cause the rent was really cheap
And you were playing with some other guys a night or two a week
That was way back in the lean days when nobody knew my name
I was in town with my Jaguars at a joint called the La Flame
You were just a kid from South Bridge and they called you Little Joe
When one of my guys had too much whiskey and I had to let him go
I went and looked you up to ask you and to see
How you'd like to quit that other band and come to work for me
You never hesitated you didn't even blink
You never had a second thought, you didn't even think
So I took you back to Tulsa and we rocked the Fondalite
We were young and wild and crazy and we must have been a sight
With our back-combed, puffed-up, sprayed stiff hair, cuff links and mohair suits
Our colored ties and Windsor knots and shined up Beatle boots
And we played it all, old buddy, from Sinatra to James Brown
We burned up a lot of stages, cranking up and getting down
And then we went our separate ways; guess it was meant to be
When I went to settle in one place to raise my family
Then you went in the Army and served a year or so
And I moved to Music City to work in the studios
But I was trying to be what I'm just not cut out to be
I was born to be on stage and that old road was calling me
So when I signed my first record deal and started lining up a band
Yours was the name that came to mind, so I called you up again
And once more you didn't hesitate, you just needed time to pack
So I took off down to Huntsville, picked you up and brought you back
So we took up where we left off, working hard and having fun
Knowing if we just kept at it, our best days were yet to come
And come they did in aces, working hard chasing the sun
And we just jammed on down the highway, taking each day as it come.
Ah the memories oh so many, all the days we've left behind
Like you hustling across the parking lot trying to make the bus on time
In that old blue denim duster that you cared so much about
With that old beat up cardboard suitcase with the iron cord hanging out
Or the night in New York City when we all went out to eat
It was snowing, but you were walking barefoot down the street
And the time up in New Jersey when you ran late for the show
And slid up to your piano just in time for your solo
Now I know that you have left us, but to this very day
I still stand on stage and listen for the riffs you used to play
But real love lasts forever, and true friendship never ends
I love you and I miss you, rest in peace, my dear old friend
Jim "Motorhead" Sherwood died on Christmas day at the age of 69. Motorhead is best remembered for playing soprano, tenor and baritone saxophone, tambourine, singing and creating vocal sound effects in Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. He appeared on all the albums of the original Mothers line-up and played on a few later Zappa albums as well. He also appeared in the films 200 Motels, Video from Hell and Uncle Meat.
Sherwood was born in Arkansas City, Kansas and met Zappa in high school in 1956. Sherwood sat in with Zappa's first band, R&B group The Black-Outs on numerous occasions where he often stole the show.
The nickname "Motorhead" was coined by fellow Mothers member Ray Collins, who observed that Sherwood always seemed to be working on repairing cars, trucks or motorcycles, and joked that "it sounds like you've got a little motor in your head." Sherwood was also occasionally credited as his alter ego "Larry Fanoga" or as "Fred Fanoga."
In later years, Sherwood contributed to various projects alongside his fellow Mothers alumni, including records by The Grandmothers, Mothers keyboardist Don Preston, Ant-Bee and Sandro Oliva.
Motorhead leaves behind a body of work that will insure his legacy as one of the great musicians of the 20th century.
It’s no secret that I love movies. I have been writing movie reviews for over 15 years now, and 2011 brought out a few real gems. What follows is a list of the 15 essential films of the year in my humble opinion. Notice there are no vampire romances or young sorcerers with horn rimmed glasses. Nor are there any 3D movies listed. Can’t stand ‘em. They give me a headache. Let me know what you think, whether you agree or not. I’d love to hear your opinion.
1. Super 8 Director J.J. Abrams is the new sci-fi king and he proved it once again with this excellent tale of a group of teenagers who set out to make their own Hollywood blockbuster movie, but get more than they bargained for while filming a scene involving an oncoming train.
2. Rise Of The Planet of The Apes The franchise springs back to life with the greatest Apes movie ever. Great acting, good script, excellent motion capture effects and enough references to the past Apes movies to make the fan boys swoon.
3. The Help From the highly successful novel. An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960's decides to write a book detailing the African-American maid's point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis
4. Bridesmaids One of the funniest movies I have seen in years. Annie (Kristen Wiig), is a maid of honor whose life unravels as she leads her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), and a group of colorful bridesmaids (Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper) on a wild ride down the road to matrimony.
5. Money Ball In this true story, Brad Pitt stars as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane and his successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players. Also stars Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
6. Unknown A scientist (Liam Neeson) awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one, (not even his wife, Diane Kruger), believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is.
7. X Men First Class A superb prequel to the X Men franchise, this one tells the story of how Professor X and Magneto first met and became best friends, prior to becoming enemies. Excellent 30 second cameo from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.
8. Thor Marvel continue to build the lineup of super heroes who will dominate the summer 2012 film season in The Avengers. Another good one, another cute cameo from Stan Lee, and of course, the sexy Natalie Portman.
9. Water for Elephants Life is a circus. A veterinary student abandons his studies after his parents are killed and joins a traveling circus as their vet. Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson.
10. The Muppets Yeah! Someone finally brought back the Muppets! Kermit never looked better.
11. Captain America: The First Avenger Oh, the Marvel Comics heroes are all springing to life. Another prequel to 2012’s huge Avengers movie. Cappy is an excellent adventure in and of itself.
12. Real Steel Hugh Jackman stars in this fine sci-fi story about boxing robots, but the real story is in the relationship between Hugh's character and his son.
13. The Lincoln Lawyer Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei. A lawyer conducts business from the back of his Lincoln town car. Excellent action and drama.
14. The Hangover II It would be impossible to outdo the original, but this sequel is still darn funny. More adventures.
15. Hanna Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones) and Eric Bana star in this top notch thriller, laced with suspense, action and a wonderful sense of mystery.
It really was one for the books. The journey began, innocently enough, early Thursday morning, November 2. With my old buddy Tim Shook in tow, I headed north for Gastonia, NC, where I would meet up with our designated driver and fellow music freak Roxanne Lark and her co-worker/friend Colleen Knights. Once we arrived, we stepped into the Lark mansion, said howdy to Rocky’s better half Robert, kissed the dog Shelly (an ultra-sweet great dane) and piled into the van, pointed it west, and took off with Roxanne Earnhardt, I mean Lark, at the wheel. The woman can flat drive, and as we hugged the curves in the Gorge heading through North Carolina toward Knoxville, I thought to myself, “This must be what it’s like to ride in a NASCAR.”
Along the way, we made a stop somewhere near Pigeon Forge to meet Brenda, wife of our buddy Preston Leaphart, to pick up an acoustic guitar he donated for the event auction. We met where every good Southerner meets, at the Wal-Mart! Thanks again to them Leaphart kids. Later that night, the guitar would be signed by some of the the finest musicians ever.
Speaking of Southern, the gang took in a good meal along the way at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, my own favorite place to dine on the road. It always feels so comfortable and Southern.
Ginger Ambrose, who works with Charlie Daniels, had kindly donated a fiddle signed by Charlie for the auction. We agreed to go by Charlie’s office in Lebanon to pick it up. Now, between my bad memory (last time I was at the office was 1996) a bizarre, demon-possessed GPS that kept repeating “make a u-turn, make a u-turn, make a u-turn” until my brain exploded inside my cranium, and the fact that there are more Pikes in Tennessee than there are Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, we nearly never found it. Once we were convinced we found it, we pulled up to a gate that was closed. The long drive lead down to a log structure, and I remembered Charlie’s office being in a log structure. We couldn’t get anybody on the phone, so Tim got out and hustled all the way down the drive to the cabin, where he knocked on the door, and looked through the windows - no signs of life. About this time, I called Ginger and discovered that we were in the wrong drive way. Tim was trespassing! Run Forest, run!
Once we found the right driveway, Charlie Daniels, Jr. met us at the end of the drive with the fiddle. I sure am glad Tim didn’t get a butt-tocks full of buckshot.
Earnhardt got us out of there, and we were back in business. We got into Nashville with just enough time to check into the Hotel Preston (a place I had last stayed with the Swampdawamp guys back in February, 2010 the day before I went blind for a year, but that, as they say, is another story.) I love The Preston. The folks there are always the very nicest people. I highly recommend you check it out. Over by the airport.
After everybody freshened up, we piled back into the KIA and drove over to 3rd and Lindsley. Now this was my first time here, although I had heard many great stories about magical musical moments that had occurred in this legendary venue, so I was understandably excited. All of that plus they have a brand new stage that just rocks.
From the time I walked in it was like ... remember in The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy opens the door of the house and it goes from black and white to color? It was like that the whole night for me. So many friends, so much great music.
I have to stop right here and say a huge “Thank you” to Rick Broyles for putting the benefit together to help little ol’ me. (Little?) Rick and his brother Bob are long-time friends of mine, and salt of the earth cats for sure. Another big thank you goes out to Chris Gilbert for work above and beyond the call in helping Rick get the back line and the whole massive undertaking done. All you fellers are the best.
I cannot begin to say how many great friends showed up, or describe how full my heart was all night long. I love you all. Do I sound like Michael Jackson? Too bad. I mean it!
First up on the stage was my dear friend Donnie Winters from The Winters Brothers Band, a man who never fails to show up for a friend, and never fails to play his heart out. From his timeless “Shotgun Rider” to his yodels and his beautiful songs in the style of his father Don Winters and mentor Marty Robbins, Donnie sounded amazing. As always.
Next up was former Outlaw, current Ghost Riders member Steve Grisham with fellow Ghost Rider and former Pure Prairie League bassist Phill Stokes. The boys sounded great, playing acoustic versions of one of Grisham’s Outlaws songs, “Keeping Our Love Alive,” and a great tune he wrote called “Roots.” Steve and Phil were excellent. Then they brought up drummer Don Kendrick for the blues number “Handy Man.” So nice.
I went backstage to the green room where The Outlaws were pouring in, getting their guitars out of their cases and tuning up. The room by now was just packed with folks. Friends, old and new. It was then that Tim told me Bonnie Bramlett was in the house. I went out and hugged my friend and sat with her while The Outlaws did their magic. And magic it was. I had not yet seen this line up, and this was my first face to face meeting with Billy Crain, brother of my dear friend Tommy, who passed away early this year.
The Outlaws started off with “There Goes Another Love Song,” and didn’t let up. Bonnie and I were both in hog heaven as Henry Paul sang to beat the band, with fellow original Outlaw Monte Yoho on drums, Randy Threet on bass, and Billy Crain and Chris Anderson on lead guitars. The twin leads of Chris and Billy were nothing short of stellar. The band rocked through “Freeborn Man,” “Hurry Sundown,” (my favorite), and many more, including a great new Outlaws song. I was happy to hear them play the Henry Paul Band Skynyrd tribute “Grey Ghost,” and the jam at the end had me (and Bonnie) on our feet screaming. Southern Rock the way God intended it to be played. Of course they closed with a ten minute plus “Green Grass and High Tides,” and I was fit to be tied.
After their set, I joined everyone in the green room for photos, and somewhere around this time Bekka Bramlett showed up backstage, wearing a shirt she had decorated with my name, “Buffalo.” It was the sweetest thing. I got my hugs from Bekka, and Bonnie walked in and we were just having a ball talking, and taking pictures. Roxanne was the consummate professional photographer, and I was having serious fun for the first time in a while. Thanks again to The Outlaws for performing. What an honor.
Soon Bonnie and I returned to our seats to sit and listen to Bekka sing. Tonight she was joined by the great John Coleman on keys. Currently a member of the Trace Adkins band, John was once a member of The Outlaws as well.
Throughout Bekka’s set Bonnie kept expounding her pride in her daughter. It was very sweet. Bekka, in turn, gave more than one shout out to her Mommy from the stage.
Bekka’s set included “What Happens in Vegas,” “One,” “Used,” and “When It Rains,” a simply beautiful tune. Her songwriting is impeccable, and her voice, well, she is after all the daughter of Delaney and Bonnie. But she sings from the gut, from the depths of her soul. She feels the music,and therefore, so do we.
John sang a couple of his great songs as well, which were show stoppers themselves. Then they brought up drummer Don Kendrick and harp man Coconut Harley for a blues jam before Bekka managed to talk her mom into coming to the stage for one song. Bonnie had just had oral surgery and was not supposed to sing, but she did. Did she ever. The ladies dueted on Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” and it brought the house down. So good.
After a break, my old friends from the band Old Union came out to jam, Chuck and Spotty treated the audience to a few songs and they rocked. I had not seen my friends since Angelus several years ago, but they have gotten even better with time. Good stuff. Toward the end of their set, they were joined by Outlaw county rocker Kara Clark who sang “Honky Tonk Women.” Kara’s new husband, Eerie Von (of Danzig fame) joined in on backing vocals.
Next, Kara brought her entire band to the stage for a short set of original songs that included “Whiskey and Cigarettes.” The kids rocked. By the way, Kara is working on a new album that promises to be her best yet. Nice.
And just like that, the show was over. It was time to hang out with old friends and chat a while before venturing out in search of late night/early morning food stuff. A search that ended up at a White Castle drive-thru, where I discovered I am not a White Castle fan.
There was a little sleep, a lot of late night text messaging, and then it was morning and time to drive back. We made several stops along the way for Roxanne to take nature photos, and just as the sun began to set on the horizon, we entered the gorge and Roxanne let her inner Earnhardt resurface, hanging in the curves while Tim slept in the back seat and Coleen and Roxanne talked. Me, I just held tight to the “Godamighty” bar and relived the entire concert in my mind. It was one of the best nights of my life. •
Huge and heartfelt thanks to: Rick Broyles; Roxanne Lark; The Outlaws; Bekka Bramlett and John Coleman; Bonnie “The Queen” Bramlett; Steve Grisham and Phill Stokes; For Old Union, Chuck and Spotty and Chris Bledsoe and Johnny Zvolensky management guys; Kara Clark and her entire band; Chris Gilbert for stage management and helping to bring in The Outlaws; Don Kendrick, Rhythm Band leader; Chris Greenwood- Gumption Productions Video & Photo; Ruth Broyles- R&R Productions- Videographer; Bob Broyles- Lead Tech; Phill Stokes- Food Wrangler; The Hotel Preston; Collin on the board from 3rd & Lindsley; Nelson, Tim Shook and Colleen on the Door; Ron Brice and the entire staff of the new stage at 3rd & Lindsley. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO CAME OR MADE DONATIONS!
Pictures by Roxanne Lark & Tim Shook
Another old friend has crossed over. Chuck Ruff, 60, best known for his work as drummer with The Edgar Winter Group during the mid-seventies, especially on songs like “Frankenstein,” died on October 14, 2011 in San Francisco after battling a long illness.
I first met Chuck in the chat room on an Edgar Winter fan site Kirk Munchoff was doing in 1999. After I interviewed Chuck soon after, we struck up a friendship. We spoke on the phone and via e-mail on a regular basis. At the time, he was driving a cab in Reno, Nevada and playing weekends with The Chuck Ruff Band. He shared all sorts of great tales about his days with Edgar, as well as with The Sammy Hagar Band and Montrose. He was also in a band called Sawbuck with North Carolina blues man Mojo Collins. He was always talking about motorcycles and his love for his wife Moni. Chuck was a great guy.
I lost touch with Chuck a few years ago, and oddly enough, I was just thinking last week that I needed to find him on Facebook and rekindle our friendship.
I will always remember our great conversations and will certainly always continue to enjoy his work on Edgar Winter’s They Only Come Out at Night, Shock Treatment and The Edgar Winter Group Featuring Rick Derringer. Great albums, one and all.
It was an especially hard bit of news to receive after being up all night last night with some sort of reflux issues that had my throat and chest hurting all night. I looked at my cell as I was headed toward the coffee machine and I saw where Dewayne, aka: “Rebyll” had called. I knew something was up because he only calls at night. I called voice mail and heard him, through my sleep deprived stupor, say what sounded like “Taz died last night.” All I could think was, I am hearing this wrong. After a cup of coffee, I will check it out.
After about an hour of scouring the internet, all I had found were a few posts on Taz’s Facebook page from people saying “we will miss you” and similar sentiments.
Finally, I could not wait any longer, so I made a couple of calls to CDB staff and band members. Soon it was official. Taz was killed in a single car auto accident on his way to meet the tour bus last night. The accident happened on I-40 west of Nashville. He was 67 years old. I still can’t believe it.
I had enjoyed his keyboard playing and huge smile for so many years, so many Charlie Daniels Band concerts. And after starting GRITZ back in 1998, I ended up meeting him and getting to know him. I have so many great memories of Taz from the many Angelus benefits and various concerts, and even got to play and sing with him a few times down in Tampa and Clearwater during late night jams at the Angelus events.
I did an extensive interview with Taz in December of 2001, in which I learned a lot about the guy. I know he loved all of his band mates dearly, especially Charlie Daniels, whom he has played with for 41 years as of 2011.
I learned that Joel DiGregorio was born in Worcester, Mass. and I lived there until about 1962 when he went on the road with Paul Chaplan and The Emeralds, a band that was famous for a song called “Shortnin’ Bread” that sold about 250,000 records in 1959.
Taz with Doug Gray of Marshall Tucker at Angelus.
(Michael Buffalo Smith Photo)
During the interview, I had asked Taz about meeting Charlie. Here’s what he said.
“It was 1964 and I was in Orlando, Florida staying in a place called The Palomino Motel on Orange Blossom Trail...I got a job in a place called La Flame that was out near the air force base in Orlando. Charlie came into the club as the main attraction one night and I was playing the breaks. His guitar player quit and he was playing bass at the time. He went back to playing guitar and the funny thing is when I met the man he said that he was looking for someone to start all over again with a band and he said let’s have lunch. So, we had lunch and he told me that if I would cut off my long hair and beard he would hire me to be in his band. It was very funny. That was 1963 and 1964. I played for a couple of years with him in a band called the Jaguars and I got drafted and he went to Nashville. After I got out of the service we put the band together.
"Basically the original band was Charlie, Jerry Corbitt from the Youngbloods, Billy Cox from Band of Gypsys and Jeffrey Meyer and myself. That band did not stay together but about six months then it just dissolved. Then it was me and Charlie and Jeffrey and a guy named Earl Grigsby. The original Charlie Daniels Band still can be heard if you can find it. It is a bootleg and it is called Corbitt and Daniels, Live at Carnegie Hall.
“We opened in 1970 for Delaney and Bonnie and it was a showcase and they brought Atlantic Records and all of these companies came and basically they wanted me and Charlie and did not want anyone else. We decided we would all stay together.”
And Charlie and Taz did, for four decades.
I will never forget the fun times and laughs shared with Taz at shows, and especially in the relaxed environment of those Angelus events over a ten year period. I will always cherish the memories of the weekend I drove up to Nashville for the sole purpose of hanging out in the recording studio while Taz recorded his second solo album. He had a great band and recorded an entire album, but later decided it wasn’t what he wanted and ditched it and started over. That was Taz. He didn’t do things half way.
Today I was looking at the glossy 8 X 10 photo he signed for me at the studio, with a bold inscription in black Sharpie. “Michael Buffalo - You sir are a diamond! Taz.” The feeling is mutual my brother. See you in the light.
I tell ya, the past week has been a whirlwind. I fully intended to write about my trip down to Macon the day after, but that was a week ago, and I am finally getting around to it.
It was September 26th. I was scheduled to meet with Roxanne Lark and John Wilson about an upcoming Hearts of the South project we are working on for March 23-24, 2012. Actually, it was Wilson who instigated the whole thing. John is putting together a bus trip (via his new Road Trip Entertainment outfit) for a select group of Southern Rock fans down to Macon for two days (details here soon) and he offered to help stage a fund raiser for Hearts of the South on that Friday night. Details coming as soon as we have them.
Anyway, we all met with Mr. Ed Grant at the truly legendary Grant’s Lounge in Macon. They call this small bar “The Home of Southern Rock,” and I think it’s safe to say that it is. Everybody played, partied and jammed there during the reign of Capricorn Records back in the 70's. Alan Walden said one night in particular during the early 70’s, the stage held members of Marshall Tucker, The Allman Brothers, Wet Willie and Lynyrd Skynyrd all jamming together, and that admission that night was one dollar.
We met with Mr. Grant, his sister, and a gentleman who is helping Mr. Grant with another very cool project inside Grants, where we sat and talked about our upcoming benefit show. Mr. Grant was great, and I ha a blast sitting in that old room and thinking about how many of my real Southern Rock heroes had rocked that stage.
After our meeting, we made our way down to the H&H Restaurant, another truly legendary spot in Macon and the home of Mama Louise Hudson, herself a true icon. Once there I made a call and we were soon joined by Alan Walden, who entertained us to no end with stories of his days with Otis Redding, as well as The Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Outlaws. Meanwhile, we were enjoying Mama’s Southern fried chicken, collard greens, lima beans and corn bread. Oh yeah. The real deal, fellow babies.
I rode around town with Roxanne as she took lots of photos of this beautiful old city, and then as quick as we had blown in, everyone got into their vehicles and took off. It was four hours to get there, three hours in town and four hours home. It was also a lot of fun. I still have “Ramblin’ Man” playing in my head.