Ramblin' Rhodes: Friends have long inspired music, musicians in Augusta

Don Rhodes (from left), Linda Macky, Sharon Jones and Bill Macky gather for one of The Mackys' concerts.

It was a strange over-lapping last weekend with the funeral and celebration of life of my good friend Bill Macky and the first Augusta showing of the documentary film Miss Sharon Jones!


Macky, who died Sept. 27 at age 63 of complications from brain tumor surgeries, was the first guy I called when I fell 12 feet down from my roof a year ago on Sept. 11. He came immediately over to help me just like he always was there for me and so many others over the years.

His visitation at Posey’s Funeral Directors in North Augusta was just a few hours before the showing of Sharon Jones’ film last Friday night at Imperial Theater about the Augusta born, world famous rhythm and blues singer and her continuing battle with pancreatic cancer.

Unfortunately neither Macky nor Jones could be at the film’s showing. Jones was in a room at a downtown hospital. She had gone by Macky’s house late Thursday night to pay her respects to Macky and visit with his widow, Linda, and his daughter, Melinda, since she could not be at the visitation due to the showing of her film. But when she got ready to leave with her sister, Willia, and cousin, Lena, she had a severe bout of dizziness. She managed to recover, and they went to their respective homes.

On Friday morning, she had such severe dizziness that she was taken to the hospital where they admitted her. She apparently just had been way too busy on the road.

Her September touring schedule with her band, The Dap Kings, found her in another major city in another state almost every other day including being back at the Hollywood Bowl. She also had another chemotherapy treatment last Wednesday in New York state before flying home the next day to Augusta.

So she had to miss the first local showing of the amazing documentary film about her life, which she had looked forward to for months. She already had seen the film at various film festivals including its premiere a year ago in Toronto.

Much to the credit of Westobou Festival organizers, the main floor of the Imperial was absolutely filled with her fans, and there were a lot of people in the balcony. Her immediate and extended family took up three rows of a middle section.

James Brown’s daughter, Deanna Brown Thomas, came to Jones’ aide and filmed with her cell phone the crowd’s excited and loud reaction to the movie and the question-and-answer period afterward with two-time Academy Award-winning director Barbara Kopple.

Her filming was live streamed to a television set in Jones’ hospital room. Jones later said how much the positive reaction of the Augusta audience meant to her.

The next day at Macky’s funeral songwriter Archie Jordan talked about his love for Macky and how Macky helped him out several times in needed situations. Jordan then sang his world-wide known song What A Difference You Made in My Life.

Okefenokee Joe (aka Dick Flood), who has been a super close friend of the Mackys, sang a beautiful ballad and read a poem he had written the night before about his good friend.

At the celebration of life service at the Jesse C. Lynch Memorial American Legion Post 71 in North Augusta following the burial, the photos shown of Macky included a photo of Jones and Joe posing with Macky in his living room.

The Mackys frequently hosted house concerts, and Jones and Joe were among those who sang at them. The funeral and celebration of life were attended by many singers and songwriters who also performed at those house concerts including Carey Murdock, Flo Carter, Bill Croft and Eryn Eubanks.

So, all in all, Macky had a great funeral with the Rev. Bob Still, pastor of New Hope Gospel Chapel in Aiken County, delivering more special words of remembrances.

The online site for Posey’s Funeral Directors posted, “To honor Bill’s legacy, do a favor for a friend without expecting anything, say ‘hello’ to someone you don’t know, think of others first and have a good conversation. Visit friends in need and be kind. Enjoy life, good jokes and the food that goes along with it. Be a kid with your grandkids and a good friend to your family.”

And those who attended the film’s showing will tell you that you need to see Jones’ movie at your first opportunity. It’s a really good one about a mighty good person who proudly calls Augusta and North Augusta home!


TWO OTHER GOOD ONES LOST: North Carolina-born songwriter John D. Loudermilk died Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 82.

He wrote or co-wrote such major hits as The Nashville TeensTobacco Road, Paul Revere and The RaidersIndian Reservation, Sue Thompson’s Norman and also Sad Movies Always Make Me Cry, Everly BrothersEbony Eyes, George Hamilton IV’s Abilene, Stonewall Jackson’s Waterloo and Ernie Ashworth’s Talk Back Trembling Lips.

He performed at Imperial Theater in 2004 with his friends Larry Jon Wilson and Shawn Mullins.

We also lost an iconic country music performer with Jean Shepard dying on Sunday, Sept. 25, also at age 82.

She entertained Augusta-area country music fans many times at Bell Auditorium and elsewhere.

Her husband, singer Hawkshaw Hawkins, died in the 1963 plane crash that also killed country stars Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas.

She was known for always singing with her hands behind her back using her fingers to keep her band members in time with the music.

By the time I crossed her path in late 1973, she already had become the senior female singing member of the Grand Ole Opry with only comedian Minnie Pearl being a woman Opry cast member longer.

She had just changed labels from Capitol Records to United Artists and told me why she had done that after being with Capitol for 20 years.

“I had hit a slump in my recordings, but it strictly was because the company had let me down. Over the last years, it was a lost cause. I got lost in the shuffle. I couldn’t even get Capitol to do any promotions cause they were more concerned about other artists.

“When I was in my slump, some people in the business – I won’t mention any names – began ignoring me. But when (I Can Feel It) Slippin’ Away (composed by Opry cast member Bill Anderson) became a big hit, these same people began coming up to me with all smiles telling me congratulations and all that. I told one well-known female singer, ‘It’s pretty sorry when it takes a number one record to get some people to speak to you.’


JAKE OWEN: Country music star Jake Owen will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at Imperial Theatre to benefit the TGen Foundation for cancer research and fighting infectious diseases. Tickets start at $50 at the box office and imperialtheatre.com.


NEW EDGEFIELD MUSIC SERIES: The Edgefield County Historical Society is offering a new musical series in the William Miller Bouknight Theater in the Joanne T. Rainsford Discovery Center, 405 Main St. with tickets at $12 each or $30 for all three shows.

Performers at 8 p.m. on each Saturday will be Elvis tribute artist Jeff Barnes on Oct. 15, the 2016 Greater Augusta Arts Council’s lifetime achievement winner Flo Carter on Oct. 29, and Americana singer/songwriter Carey Murdock who has performed three tours of Europe on Nov. 19.

Call (803) 637-2233 for reservations.


POW WOW AT THE RIVER: The new National Native American Pow Wow festival, an outgrowth of the former Oka’Chaffa Indian Festival, is planned for Oct. 22-23 at the New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam Park. Tickets are $10 advance or $12 at the gate. For details, see roadrunnerenterprisesllc.com.