Marking the Centennial of My Father’s Birth (aka Wow, Daddy Would Be Turning 100 Today)

The leader of the band

Enjoy this smile-inducing remembrance by his former student, Daniel Ford. Daniel went on to be the bassist of famed Southern rock band Doc Holliday.

This photo is a wonderful fellow I knew only as Mr. Hannon. He was the band director when I joined the band in the 7th grade at Rumble Junior High in 1966 playing alto sax. The first day he had all the alto sax players play the first line of a sheet of music solo, after which he placed me first chair first seat. He came in every day and led us in his lesson plan. After about a month he began saving the last ten minutes or so of class time to have a conversation about music.

One time after finishing the lesson he started the conversation by looking at me and asking what music I listened to at home. I immediately said Beatles, of course. He gave that how did I already know that look, said that’s good, and then suggested that I listen to other music once in a while, like maybe Miles Davis. I said you mean like So What and Freddie the Freeloader. I saw that was a bit of a surprise to him so I explained that I had listened to all kinds of music from all over the world on my Dad’s multi-band radio. After that day, when he gave his talk after the lesson he would occasionally mention the name of a jazz great for me to check out, and I usually did. Wes Montgomery and Cannonball Adderley come to mind. He is one of those who opened my mind to the joy in the diversity of music.

Fast forward to 1972. I was playing bass in Roundhouse. We took a weekend off because some of the guys had family obligations that weekend. Because they were out of town I had the key to the practice place on Market Street. That Saturday afternoon I got a call from the Secretary of the Musicians Union in Macon asking me if I had a gig that night. I told him I didn’t so he asked me if I could play at the Civilian Club that night and told me it paid sixty dollars. I quickly accepted. It was about three miles from where I lived at the time.

This was the old Civilian Club in Warner Robins which was about 500 yards northeast of the old Post Office on N. Davis Dr., with the old Dormitory Pool in between. After an early dinner I grabbed my bass and went to the practice place and loaded up one of the cabinets and the top of my Peavey amp. Getting to the Civilian Club from there took three minutes. A nice fellow there helped me get my cabinet on the stage. There was an organ, I think a C3, on the stage so I asked him if it belonged to the band that night. He said yes. So I set up my amp where I could stand close to the organist and see his left hand. Then I just waited.

After about ten minutes the drummer, a nice fellow, arrived and I introduced myself. A few minutes later the organist arrived. I introduced myself and explained that I had set up so I could see his left hand. Then I asked if anyone else was in the band. He told me one more was coming, the bandleader, and he played trumpet.

So I asked if the band just did instrumentals, he said yes, mostly standards from the 40s to the 60s with a little light jazz thrown in. Great, I thought. I probably haven’t ever played any of them. But I knew I’d be alright as long as I could see the organist’s left hand.

A few minutes later the bandleader walks in carrying his trumpet case. We both did a double-take on the other. Yep. The bandleader and trumpet player was Mr. Hannon, my junior high band director. He started naming songs. I was familiar with many of them but had never played any of them. I explained to him why I set up the way I did. He said fine, looked at my big cabinet with two fifteen inch speakers and told me to play real quiet until I got the hang of it.

We started with a medium tempo shuffle which I aced. The next one was Stardust or something like that. I watched the organist’s left hand to get my note. I was smart enough to not play my note between the down and up beats. If I couldn’t play the note on the downbeat I waited for the upbeat. After the second song Mr. Hannon told me to turn up a little. I was in there. Those years of piano lessons as a kid were paying off. We jumped into the next tune, something up tempo. Because I sometimes played my note on the upbeat, it gave a mambo-bossa nova feel. The drummer, who now could hear me, started playing it that way. The organ and trumpet were riffing on it and digging it. The dance floor was packed and stayed that way the rest of the set and the two sets that followed.

All that is a great memory, but here’s the very best part. After playing for an hour, the band took a break. A pause for the cause. When we got off the stage Mr. Hannon told me to follow him. I followed him to a bar behind the stage, which I had no idea was there, and we had a seat at the bar. He told me I did a great job, and that he really wasn’t suprised because of having known me at junior high. I told him he was too kind. And then…..he asked if he could buy me a beer. Pinch myself! I said of course. Later we returned to the stage for two more sets. The band grooved, the dance floor stayed packed, and I didn’t have a single clinker the entire night. After finishing I was loading out my amp when Mr. Hannon came to pay me the sixty dollars. He then reached into his wallet and gave me an extra ten and thanked me for a job well done.

I’ve never been one to wear my pride on my sleeve, but there are many things I’ve done in music I am proud of having done. Playing that night and sitting in the bar behind the stage on first break with Mr. Hannon is one of them.