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Happy New Year: A Look Back at 2006 with Buffalo & Gritz

Posted: Dec 31, 2006

Happy New Year everyone! Thank you for reading GRITZ for another year, and a huge thank you for following us into our new home here at Swampland Media!

2006 was a fun year. Lots of great concerts, shows, CD’s, books, travel....It was GRITZ’s best year ever.

In late January, Charlie Daniels hosted his annual benefit for the Angelus down in Tampa, Florida. This event is always one of my personal favorites, and the knowledge that the money raised will go to help the special needs children who live at Angelus makes it that much more special.

From the celebrity golf tournament to the Charliepalooza all day concert, the Angelus event rocks, day and night. Once again The Marshall Tucker Band performed at the outdoor concert, and once again Doug asked me up to sing. It is always a thrill to jam with the MTB. I sang on “Can’t You See,” and brother Danny Shirley from Confederate Railroad sang “24 Hours at a Time.” Great music filled the Floyd Amphitheatre all day long, including sets from Trick Pony, Little Texas and Montgomery Gentry.

Speaking of Eddie and Troy, I ended up onstage with the boys during a midnight jam one night, and had a ball playing through Chris Hicks’ (MTB) guitar and rig. You never know what’s going to happen at Angelus.

I had a lot of gigs around the South all year, some solo, some with my band from Greenville, some with The Rhythm Pigs and some with The Crawlers.Variety is indeed the spice of life. Thank you to all who came out to the shows. I really enjoyed meeting all of you.

In March I made a trip to Nashville for several days to visit Steve Popovich (Cleveland International) and his son, Steve Popovich, Jr. (SIRIUS Outlaw Country). I also did lunch with singer songwriter Marshall Chapman (an amazing woman and an equally amazing talent), and had a breakfast meeting with my pal Kissy Black, publicist for Lotos Nile Media. Somehow, we had gotten our wires crossed, and I was at one of the Nashville Deli’s (there are two) and she was at the other. When I called her on the cell, she said to stay put and she’d be over to meet me. By now, most of the patrons had finished their breakfasts and headed off to work. I happened to look to my left and the man sitting all alone at the table beside me looked familiar. It was Vince Gill. We spoke for a few minutes, mostly about his upcoming four CD set and about my first meeting with his wife Amy Grant when she was a student at Furman University in Greenville, SC back in the early 1980’s. Vince was great. When Kissy showed up, she introduced herself to Vince as he was leaving, and Kissy and I had a great lunch. She’s one of my favorite people, and a heck of a publicist. Her husband, Jeff Black, is a major songwriting/singing talent.

My lunch meeting with Marshall Chapman took place at the historical Vandyland diner, and she told me about the place being scheduled for demolition. Everyone that worked there were great people, and my time with Marshall is a truly special memory. The lady is a great singer, guitarist, songwriter and author. You really should read her book, Goodbye Little Rock and Roller. She was originally from Spartanburg (SC) County, just like me, and her family owned the cotton mill in Inman. Also check out her latest CD, Mellowicious.

Buffalo, Mac Arnold (and his gasoline can guitars) and Denny Walley, backstage at The Handlebar.

I really have fun with Steve Popovich. In case you don’t know, Steve was the one who believed in Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman when they were shopping for a label for Bat Out of Hell. Steve signed them and it went on to become one of, if not the, biggest albums in history. Pop has worked with everyone from Cheap Trick to The Jacksons, and on and on. He is also business partners and friends with David allan Coe. His son Steve, Jr. is a great guy too, and and works for SIRIUS Satellite Radio’s Channel 63, Outlaw Country.

That Sunday I left Nashville and drove to Huntsville, Alabama to visit my friends in The Crawlers. I ended up jamming the night away with them at Coppertops that night, capping off a great four day road trip.

March 16 one of my favorite poets visited Greenville. Saul Williams, a powerful, no holds barred, spiritual, political, activist, was in town to open for Nine Inch Nails, and that afternoon was to visit Barnes and Noble to read from his latest book. A series of unfortunate events delayed Saul’s arrival, not once but twice, but us die hards kept coming back. Jill and I finally got to see him after he opened for NIN. Right after his show, his driver sped across town and brought Saul in. The readings were great, the Q & A even better. What a talent.

In March I had two great interviews. The first one was Hank Williams III (aka: Hank III). Hank sounds like his Grandfather, Hank Williams, one minute, and then goes full out punk the next. He’s one of a kind. An American original. Speaking of American original’s, Cowboy Jack Clement granted me an interview in March as well, and I had a blast talking with him about his friend Johnny Cash, among the hundreds of other subjects.

Other events of 2006 include my pal Doug Gray’s dual throat surgery to remove polyps from his vocal cords, causing him to regain a massive amount of the vocal ability he possessed during the hey day of The Marshall Tucker Band...go Doug!

April was filled with great shows. I saw John Prine at The Peace Center, always a treat; The North Mississippi Allstars at The Handlebar, one of my favorite bands; and on April 22nd Gritz ventured down to Unidella, Georgia for the Angel City Bike Rally, which was absolutely Southern Rock magic.

The Southern Rock Allstars opened with a blistering set, including an unplanned jam with your’s truly at the end. Wet Willie was next, with almost all original members in tact, including master vocalist Jimmy Hall, who blew the audience away before turning the stage over to Blackfoot, featuring original band members Greg T. Walker and Charlie Hargrett, Christoph Ulman in for the late great Jakson Spires, and Jay Johnson in for an ailing Bobby Barth. (Jay and Bobby are now both members of the band.) The set rocked like a forty mega-ton bomb had been set off. It was one great show.

Merlefest took place again in April, but this year I didn’t make it. Writer Derek Halsey did, and judging from his reports, it was as amazing as ever.

May brought Mac Arnold to The Handlebar. The former Muddy Waters side man is awesome, and his new CD is blues magic. I had a blast interviewing him back stage while my wife Jill and my friend Denny Walley (Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart) looked on.

June was fun. I went to lunch one weekday with Doug Gray and caught up on what he and The Marshall Tucker Band has been up to. Always fun. On June 8, my daughter Hannah graduated High School. My son Ben had just recently graduated The College of Charleston. Both kids are extra special, and I love them. No doubt about that.

On my birthday, June 24, I missed my 30 year High School reunion so I could play

Rock a Hock in Virginia with The Rhythm Pigs and the blues dynamo T. Graham Brown. I had a blast, but honestly, i still regret missing my reunion. at least i think I do.

July was a great month. I interviewed actor/director/writer/musician Billy Bob Thornton, a real hero of mine. It went so well, we ended up talking another hour after the tape had run out. Billy is the very best.

Also in July, I opened a sold-out show at The Handlebar for David Allan Coe. David, his wife Kimberly and her mom spent the day with us here at Buffalo Central. It was pretty great having Coe visiting. The show went very well, as David sat in the wings watching us play. His set was rocking, and he surprised everyone by mixing his hits and country songs with covers of Marsall Tucker, The Allman Brothers, Grand Funk and more. Another great night.

In September, Marty Stuart treated everyone to an acoustic solo performance at The Handlebar, and two weeks later I saw him perform with The Fabulous Superlatives on the stage of The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, during the Americana Music Awards, a show that capped off the Annual Americana Music Conference in Nashville. What a week that was. Highlights included; live sets by Paul Thorn’s band, Tony Joe White, Will Kimbrough, Marshall Chapman and many, many more; panel discussions with industry insiders on song writing, publicity, marketing and more; a wonderful extended lunch with Steve Popovich and Popovich, Jr., David Lynn Jones, and a revolving door of stoppers by, including guitar monster Bill Kirchen, SIRIUS Radio personality Dallas Wayne; Sugar Hill Records Founder Barry Poss; and many others. It was a blast. Of course, the highlight of all highlights was the Awards Show at The Ryman, hosted by Jim Lauderdale, with excellent performances including Roseanne Cash,  Jerry Douglas, Bryan Sutton, Tim O’Brien, Buddy Miller, Elvis Costello, Allen Tousaint, Vince Gill... It was an incredible show.

The day after the AMC’s, I pointed the Honda South toward Huntsville, Alabama, to visit my friends down there.

Steve Popovich, Jr., Bill Kirchen and Dallas Wayne.

In October, my band headlined at The Handlebar with Brimstone Highway opening, and in November, I returned to Mike Proctor’s High Lonesome Saloon to open for Paul Thorn and his band. Now that was a fun night. Donnie Winters (Winters Brothers Band) sat in with me, and even treated the audience to a couple of WBB tunes. Paul Thorn rocked the house. The next day I ventured back to Huntsville, Alabama, where I dropped in on my friend Billy Teichmiller’s Mill Kids Studio to record the vocal on a track I wrote for an upcoming Ray Brand Tribute album. George McCorkle met me there, bringing along our friend Bruce Wall. George played lead on the song, and smoked it.

In December I returned to Nashville to appear on SIRIUS Satellite Radio via Hillbilly Jim’s show on Outlaw Country. I had big news to announce about GRITZ, and it was just great. We announced our merger with Swampland.com, a beautiful new venture that is sure to eclipse everything we have done so far. Please stay with us and watch, and for goodness sakes don’t change the channel!

While in Nashville I spent a day with Donnie Winters and had dinner with his wife and boys at their home. (Thanks again guys.) I also spent a day with songwriter Lee Bogan, co-writing our first hit together. (You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. LOL.)

Mark Emerick (Commander Cody), Eddie Montgomery (Montgomery Gentry) and Buffalo at Charliepalooza in January.

Of course, 2006 had it’s fair share of losses, like every year. Some of the folks we’ll miss include  Phil Walden, 66, founder of Capricorn Records, died from cancer, April 23; Ahmet Ertegun, 83, co-founder of Atlantic Records, died from a head injury from a fall at a Rolling Stones concert, December 14; Duane Roland, 53, guitarist and a founder of Molly Hatchet, June 19;  Don Knotts, (Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith show) died February 24 at the age of 81; Billy Preston, 59, ("You Are So Beautiful", "Nothing from Nothing") known for his work with the Beatles and The Stones, died from malignant hypertension leading to kidney failure, June 6; Buck Owens, 76, died from a heart attack, March 21; Wilson Pickett, 64, died from a heart attack, January 19; Billy Walker, 77, a member of the Grand Ole Opry, died following a traffic accident, May 21;  Bonnie Owens, 76, country music singer, died April 21;  Lou Rawls, 72, jazz and blues singer, died from complications from lung and brain cancer, January 6; Robert Jance Garfat, 62, (Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show), died following a motorcycle accident, November 6;  Josh Graves, 79, bluegrass dobro master, died September 30; Jumpin' Gene Simmons, 73, American rockabilly musician, died August 29; Arthur Lee, 61, leader of the psychedelic band Love, died from leukemia, August 3; Freddy Fender, 69, Mexican-American singer ("Before the Next Teardrop Falls"), died of lung cancer, October 14; Syd Barrett, founding member of Pink Floyd, died July 7 at the age of 60; James Brown, 73, died of heart failure related to pneumonia, December 25;  and most of all, Junior Lee Smith, my Dad, 75, died of natural causes on December 18.

Moving into 2007, I wish each and every one of you a prosperous and happy New Year. And please book mark swampland.com now, or better yet, make it your home page. Updates will be coming daily and you don’t want to miss what we have lined up for you!

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern! -Buffalo

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moonwoman says...

Wow! What a great year in southern music. Nice report Buffy. Looking forward to 2007!

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