TRAVEL HERE: CULPEPPER’S HOSTS FRANK MARTIN GILLIGAN & JOE GAVITO
It started earlier in the week on Facebook of all places. I have a cousin down Houston way who is heavily into their music scene. If Gene Alton likes a band, then it’s a good band. He posted a video that I don’t even think I watched, but I noticed one of the comments was from Joe Gavito.
Who in the world is Joe Gavito?
Now Joe Gavito probably isn’t a household name where you live, but he features large in one of my childhood memories. I moved to Dallas in 1966 at the age of eleven. Back then I had no idea I was going to love Dallas as much as I do. I was pretty partial to Augusta, GA which had been my previous home. I can tell you this, Mapquest says there’s about 930 miles between Dallas and Augusta, but when you’re eleven years old, it’s more like 930 galaxies.
See, I was the cat’s meow at T.Harry Garrett Elementary School. My friends were Grayson Bailey, Caroline Swink, Patty Harrison, Margie Ann Bowers, Donna Rice and Martha Bowling. None of us liked Judy Moody, because she had a mean streak, but we all harbored crushes on her brother Tommy and that new guy, Paul, who had moved in at the end of the street.
We lived in the right neighborhood and attended the right church. I even took ballet from the right ballet school, piano from the right teacher and belonged to the right scout group. My dad had the right kind of job and we owned season tickets to The Masters. Life was good. I was about to enter sixth grade and I’m sure that along with my peers on Persimmon Road, I would have put on my white gloves and attended the right social dancing classes.
In Dallas I was nobody. We lived in a rent house in a modest East Dallas neighborhood and were still looking for a church. There was no ballet or scouts and my piano teacher was not remarkable in anyway. Dad still had the same job, but it didn’t carry the same cachet in Dallas and he’d forfeited his season tickets. And social dancing? HA!
I didn’t look like my Dallas peers either. When we got word my dad was transferring, Mom had already purchased my wardrobe for the school year. My wool plaid skirts, knee socks and penny loafers were all the rage over in Augusta, but Dallas had moved on to mini-dresses, fishnet hose and kitten heels – in sixth grade. No one in Georgia would have dreamed of heels until they were in their teens!
I suffered through my sixth grade year and dreamed of social dancing classes in Augusta. I wondered who had been lucky enough to be Tommy Moody’s partner and if there was any chance it would have been me if we’d stayed there. (Probably not, since over the summer I’d shot up at least a head over everyone in my class, especially Tommy Moody.)
Then came the invitation to Cynthia Rodger’s birthday party – Cynthia of the long blonde hair, mini-dresses, fish-net hose and kitten heels. Now I can imagine a conversation in which Cynthia’s mother told her that if she was inviting the rest of her class to the party that funny girl from Georgia would also have to be invited, but I was too unsophisticated in those days to even think of that. Instead I was over the moon. I was going to Cynthia Rodger’s birthday party!
I remember very little from the party, except for Joe Gavito. This suggests that I probably did not have the rapturous time I had hoped to have at the soiree, but it’s still a party I can’t forget. We were kids. Eleven-year-olds. I still had a hard time chewing gum and walking. Joe Gavito sat down at a drum set and played Wipeout. It was the coolest thing I had seen up to that point – and I’ve never forgotten it.
Nearly five decades had passed when I saw Joe Gavito’s name in my Facebook feed, but something prompted me to ask if he happened to be the Joe Gavito who attended sixth grade at MT Reilly. Lo and behold, he was. He even remembered the awful cat’s eye glasses that I wore – something else that had been just the thing in Augusta and absolutely the worst thing in Dallas. What’s more he was still in the music scene AND he had a gig around the corner from me on Friday night. Talk about coincidences!
I decided right then and there, in honor of the magic Joe created so long ago, I was going to hear him on Friday night. My husband reluctantly agreed to go, with the same excitement one might expect if I’d asked him to join me for dinner with my college sweetheart. My best friend agreed to go, because she always agrees to do whatever I want to. I extended the same invitation to several others and ended up with about seven interested couples. Before the end of the week, two couples had conflicts and my bestie’s husband got sick, but we still had a table-ful.
The official name of the act is Frank Martin Gilligan. He’s a singer/songwriter in the country/western vein and Joe plays backup. I didn’t know what to expect. I was just in it for the fun.
Frank started off with a few cover songs and then moved into his own music. The cover songs were good. His songs were great. He’d sound good singing pretty much anything, as he demonstrated by singing both Willie Nelson songs and a hit from Les Miserables. When he added his own amazing lyrics to the sound, it was rapturous. I hate to sound like a groupie, but my best friend studied opera and she agreed on both counts.
We planned to stay for one set. We stayed for two and Deb was still there when we left. Between sets I chatted with Joe. That’s when I found out that Frank Martin Gilligan had been the moving force behind Mason Dixon. I remembered Mason Dixon! Frank dropped out of the music scene to raise his family, but that task being done he’s returned to his first love – and that’s a good thing for you and me. Joe says that thanks to the internet, the new CD, Silver Dollar, is enjoying some success through online downloads for the media. In fact, Frank got a call from a DJ in Australia that wanted him to know how much they were loving his music Down Under.
The title song “Silver Dollar” is a ballad about the path an 1890’s Silver Dollar might have gone, in it’s journey to a friend’s pocket. I loved this feel-good song about the history of our great nation, but it wasn’t the only selection he played from his disc. I caught tears in the eyes of my companions during “I Remember Who She Is”. See if you can listen to it without crying. The CD is one great hit after another. You’ll love it.
One more thing. Joe Gavito was not playing drums. He’s moved on to the guitar. (In fact, the more I think about it, he was probably playing drums at the party I remember so well. Memories blur over time.) He juggles between two instruments as he accompanies Frank and he’s great on both of them, but one was a very small guitar from Tacoma that he says is called a traveling guitar. Whatever it’s called, it sounds like a mandolin and Joe is a maestro at picking on it.