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Buffalo Roaming: Down to Athens for the Tommy Talton CD Release Party

Posted: Apr 05, 2009

We had been looking forward to this little road trip for quite some time. Tommy Talton and his band were having a CD release party at The Melting Point in Athens, Georgia, and it was sure to be a stone cold blast as Talton’s gigs always are. Add to this the buzz surrounding his recent appearance at The Beacon Theatre in New York sitting in as a guest of The Allman Brothers Band.

Besides the show, we were also excited to be returning to Athens and The Foundry Park Inn & Spa, a kind of “mini-village” that also contains The Melting Point listening room. We have been there before and it was just great, so we kind of knew what to expect - all good.

The drive in from Greenville was just beautiful. Spring had finally graced us with her presence, and the Honda was rocking with the sounds of Highly Kind, Tommy Talton and more coming from my iPod.

When we arrived and checked in at The Foundry Park Inn, I was thrilled that we had a couple of hours to chill out in our room. And what a room it was, one of 119 on site, and the epitome of comfortable. I won’t even talk about their beds. They are like a little bit of heaven. They remind me of those at the Hard Rock Hotel in Tampa that we get during The Angelus. The kind of bed you just want to curl up in and stay. Tons of soft pillows, cool sheets, heavy blankets if needed. Nice.

The first thing that caught my eye was the snack basket on the table when you come in. Only because dead center of all the candy and stuff was something called grits bites with a huge red “Grits” logo that looked exactly like one of the original logos we had for Gritz.net eight or nine years back. What a welcome.

The Inn is built into a series of historical Athens buildings that date back to the 1800's . It’s all history, comfort and Athens-cool. Although we didn’t partake of the Spa services, they sure looked tempting, at least to my better half. Facials, massage, the whole nine yards. The Spa was booked solid for the entire weekend. I later discovered that there was a wedding reception happening in their big on site Conference Center later, and I’m sure some of those ladies were getting their massage on.

We had been on the cell with Tommy Talton and his wife Patricia, and made a plan to have dinner before the show. At first we were planning on dining at The Hoyt House, the fine on site restaurant. We ended up eating at The Melting Point itself, which features an extensive menu in and of itself.

We met up with Tommy and Patty, as well as Tony G., Tommy’s keyboard player, Brandon Peeples the bass player and Jim Hawkins, a founder of the original Capricorn Recording Studios in Macon who is building a new state of the art facility in Athens. I was also pleased to see and talk with Joe Bell again. Joe is a great friend of Talton’s and is the Business Manager for Hittin’ The Note Magazine. I really enjoyed talking with him about the recent Beacon run.

I must note here that the rib eye steak dinner I had at The Melting Point was “melt in your mouth” tasty. Just one of the best steaks I have ever had. Jill had a tuna fish steak and made similar comments regarding her meal. Yum.

We went back to the green room for a bit between dinner and the show, where our friend Terry Reeves (along with her hubby Barry) introduced us to the opening band guys. Their band is called Lingo, and they are just great kids., Four guys between the ages of 19 and 21, along with their road manager, Heavy D, a kid that looks uncannily like a young Buddy Miles. No kiddin.’

When Lingo took the stage, I didn’t really know just what to expect. I figured they must be pretty dogone good, being that John Keane (he of R.E.M. and Widespread Panic fame) produced their record and Randall Bramblett appeared on it several times.

The four guys put on an amazing show that just blew me away. Tight, melodic, catchy original tunes that will stand the test of time. Look for a review of their new CD soon here in GRITZ.

At one point they invited Tony G. of Talton’s band up for a rousing take on The Meters’ “Cissy Strutt.” It was a groove.

Their whole set was filled with youthful energy combined with the wisdom and musical ability of four “old souls.” Oh, and they did a very cool, almost reggae version of Cash’s “Ring of Fire” that was just great. I hope to catch these guys again really soon.

It was time for the main attraction. Like they used to say when they introduced James Brown, “It’s star time, ladies and gentlemen!” The Tommy Talton Band took the stage, and rather than come out “guns a blazin,” Tommy strapped on an acoustic guitar to open with one of my favorite Talton compositions, the beautiful “Broken Pieces.” He really surprised us all by inserting a verse of Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” in the middle of the tune.

Next came “Sit Here in The Sun,” and boy howdy did it sound great. Brandon Peeples on bass, Tony Giodano on keyboards and as a special treat, Garrison Bert Elliott was on the sax for this gig. Tommy just changed drummers, and Scott Phillips was behind the kit for his first gig with Talton. I cannot say enough about how great a job Scott did, especially on the dynamics and jams that came later. Awesome.

And the hits just kept on coming. Many of the songs that were played are on Tommy’s new CD, Live Notes from Athens, recorded last year at this very venue. Again, look for a review quite soon here at GRITZ.NET.

The band played great songs like the instrumental “My Baby Don’t Shave,” the excellent “Getaway Cars,” and some eclectic and just plain fun covers like Dylan’s “Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat,” Buffalo Springfield’s “For What it’s Worth,” and one I had not heard Tommy perform before, the most excellent Van Morrison tune, “Into The Mystic.” A real keeper, Tommy.

Speaking of Morrison, Talton also played his own “Color My Sleep,” another favorite of this writer, with it’s Van Morrisonish sounding melody.

Another great surprise was hearing "Hard Drivin' Man," a song co- written by Talton with John D. Wyker and Tommy Coleman that I actually recorded on my latest album. Small world. Tommy rocked it, baby.

Being an old school Cowboy fan, I was of course very pleased to once again hear the band perform “River to the Sea” and “Time Will Take Us.”

Talton lead the band into slide guitar rockers and ethereal space jams, with every band member adding their own color swatch to the canvas. In the end, it  was pure, unencumbered art.

Speaking of amazing space jams, the show closed with a cover of Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down.” It was an amazing show. A great launch for the new live CD. (Talton also released Someone Else’s Shoes: In Europe last year.)

After the show we all hung out and chatted, posed for grip and grin photos and then said our goodnight’s. I believe I hit that comfortable bed at about 2:30 a.m. The next morning we met with Tommy and Patty and talked a bit and said our goodbyes. We sure love those kids. I feel very blessed to now be friends with the former leader of one of my favorite bands, Cowboy. Of course,  he is also the leader of my new favorite group, The Tommy Talton Band. Natch.

The ride back home on Sunday was again beautiful. It had been another winning road trip. As Billy C. Farlow used to would say, “Too much fun.”

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.

Tommy Talton Band Set List

Broken Pieces > You Send Me > Broken Pieces
Sit Here in The Sun
How Come People Act Like That
Deal with the Deal
Color My Sleep
Into The Mystic
My Baby Don’t Shave
Getaway Cars
I’m On Your Side
Time Will Never Change
For What It’s Worth
River to the Sea
Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat
Hard Drivin’ Man 
Time Will Take Us
On Your Way Down



Photos by Jill McLane Smith & Michael Buffalo Smith


Tommy hits the note.


Master guitar slinger, Tommy Talton.


Tommy signing Cowboy LP's for a fan.



Jill Smith with some of the Lingo guys.


Brandon Peeples on bass,


Scott Phillips on the kit.


Garrison Bert Elliott on sax.


Tony G on the keys!


Lingo with Joe Bell.


Lingo rocks.


Terry Reeves and her husband Barry.


Joe Bell and Mr. Talton.


Talton's acoustic opener.








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freddycb says...

I got on Itunes last night and tried to buy the live one but it wasn't available yet. Does anyone know if hittinthenote will make it available via that resource soon? I'm chomping at the bit.

michaelbuffalo says...

Thanks guys. I could not agree more! Tommy is the absolute best and yes, my buddy Mr. Thames is correct (See Bill's review in the current Hittin The Note) - it is an amazing live CD. Be sure to also purchase Someone Else's Shoes if you haven't already!

BillThames says...

I knew way back when that Tommy Talton was going to rise back to the top, and damn if he hasn't. If you haven't heard "Live Notes From Athens" do yourself a favor, buy a copy. You'll soon see what all the buzz is about!

MusicMattersEntertainment says...

What a great review of an amazing evening! Thanks, Buffalo! I agree with Freddy.... do NOT miss the opportunity to see Tommy Talton whenever and wherever possible. Pick up the new CD at www.hittinthenote.com . Killer stuff!

freddycb says...

I had the distinct pleasure of catching the Tommy Talton Band twice recently, once in Daytona and once at the Spirit of the Suwanee Park. Superlatives fail me with regard to his stellar performances. Do not miss the opportunity to see this supremely gifted musician if he is ever in your area!

michaelbuffalo says...

Not too many years from now... already have one grandchild. But I will surely tell her old Cowboy stories....LOL. Thanks.

copperhead says...

Nice. You have a rough life Buff. I see you sitting on the front pourch many years from now tell your Grandchildren about Cowboy.

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