Ramblin' Rhodes: Men remembered for contributions to culture, music

Chipa Wolfe died in April. The future of his Oka'Chaffa Indian Festival, which was held each fall, is unknown.

The good deeds of Native American Chipa Wolfe of Jasper, Ga., still are being remembered by those who knew him through his life-work as a musician, festival promoter and educator.

 

Wolfe died in April at age 62 after suffering a massive stroke; leaving behind his wife, Ruby, a Lakota Indian; young daughter, Cecilia, and son, Joshua.

His last attempt at educating local residents about Native American culture took place this week a year ago on July 24 at the North Augusta Arts & Heritage Center.

Wolfe was the organizer and driving force behind several annual events including the Oka’Chaffa Indian Festival held the past four years in Augusta at Phinizy Center for Water Sciences Nature Park and also the New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam Park.

The future of the festival, which was held Oct. 24-25 last year, is not known. Wolfe’s Rolling Thunder Enterprises website rthunder.com does not have any events listed.

“Chipa was dedicated to his family, saving animals and promoting the real Native American history through educational programs, powwows and helping the environment,” said his friend CJ Tritt.

Tritt recalled that Wolfe and his family would often go to military bases, companies and colleges to teach diversity programs concerning the Native American Indian cultures.

“Chipa was an awesome man with a heart much
bigger than anyone I’ve
ever known,” Tritt added. “Right after Hurricane Katrina, Chipa went to New Orleans to help with the abandoned animals. He brought home and rescued hundreds of helpless critters. He broke down doors to set some free.

“This is only one example of his dedication to helping animals. He was a wonderfully loving man and is so missed by everyone that knew him. He dedicated so much time throughout his life to saving those who needed saving, people and animals alike. And he never wanted nor asked for anything in return.”

Tritt has set up a gofundme account to help pay off Wolfe’s hospital bills.

“Ruby is receiving all the hospital bills, and she has no way to pay them as Chipa did not have health insurance. This is why I set up the account to help her,” Tritt notes.

 

ANOTHER LOSS WITH JIM MORRIS: I wrote about another giving person in May of last year, former Grovetown resident Jim Morris, who graduated from Harlem, High School in 1970.

Morris died of a brain aneurysm at age 64 on July 13 in a Seattle hospital. He and his band had been en route to Olympia, Wash., to perform at the Laid Back Attack music festival named after his song Laid Back and Key Wasted that also was the title of his first album in 1996.

His second album, Bocanuts, released in 1997 led to that being the name for his fan base sort of like Jimmy Buffett’s “Parrot Heads.”

Morris was the son of Calvin and Barbara Morris. His grandfather, Isaac Cliatt, had a dance band in Augusta and his cousin, Chuck Cliatt, was a popular singer in Las Vegas for more than two decades.

Morris himself had a teenage band in the area called The Vandals, but he told me last year, “We were as far from being vandals as you possibly could imagine.

“Our big claim to fame other than playing teen towns or women’s clubs was playing at the National Guard Armory at Lake Olmstead opening for The Candymen, which featured Roy Orbison. We thought we were really hot stuff at the time.”

Morris graduated from then-Augusta College, now Augusta State University, and entered the corporate world for about 15 years. But his love of music led him to Port Charlotte, Fla., where he became well known for his mix of acoustic folk, jazz, country and beach music in a humorous vein.

He and his Big Bamboo Band often helped out with charitable causes especially in collecting money and buying more than 300 pairs of shoes for needy children.

“We started supporting the shoes project after the area was devastated by Hurricane Charley, and a lot of families were made homeless,” Morris told me last year.

“Also, when I play at the Nav-A-Gator Grill, my local musical home, the price of admission is a pair of shoes or a food donation.”

Dennis Kirk, who co-owns the grill with his wife, Nancy, told Florida Weekly newspaper that Morris brought a lot of people to the area after Hurricane Charley hit hard in 2004.

He also said the Charlotte County Tourism Bureau used one of Morris’ songs, Magic on the Water, to promote the area.

There will be a celebration of Morris’ life and music at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Four Points by Sheraton Harborside hotel in Punta Gorda, Fla.

 

ED TURNER AND NUMBER 9: There are some tickets still left for Ed Turner and Number 9’s Rock & Soul Revue being presented by the Junior League of Augusta at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, at the Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.

It looks like the show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, will be sold out by the time this is published. Call the box office at (706) 722-8341, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays- Fridays, or order online at imperialtheatre.com. The group has sold out the Imperial 19 times.

 

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