"When you were at USC," my brother asked, "did you know Darius Rucker?"
No. I worked with his girlfriend, I said. I didn't elaborate, but she was at The Gamecock. She was in production, I was in editorial.
I could further elaborate that I did talk many times with Mark Bryan, guitarist for Hootie and the Blowfish. My mom even met Mark once, a long time. I could further further elaborate that back then, H & the B was just a bar band, popular with the frat boys.
Why do you ask, I asked back.
Rucker, lead singer of the Blowfish, commonly, mistakenly believed to be Hootie, was on some special about South Carolina.
They had also talked about Dizzie Gillespie on the special, John said. That he was from Cheraw, and Cheraw had a jazz music scene going on.
"And you used to live in Cheraw, right?" John asked.
Yeah. I still couldn't tell where this was going. Again, I didn't elaborate, but I didn't get to know many people who knew Dizzy Gillespie. I did go to Dizzy Gillespie Apartments many times. It's a housing project. Many times it was for drug busts. Once for a murder. Many times also I went there for "Take back the community" type events, because most residents didn't buy into the crime that seemed to be rampant in that community. Cheraw has since dedicated a statue in memory of Gillespie, and is honoring his tie to the community.
However, in January of 1995, the old Holly Inn burned to the ground. The inn had apartments out back in which Dizzy's band members used to stay when he came back to town. It was a decrepit structure. There was still enough to restore at the time of the fire, but not enough after the fire. I walked to that fire and beat the fire department there. It was a block from my own apartment building.
Dizzy used to come over to the inn and have jam sessions with his band.
Anyway, back to my brother. He said the show also talked about James Brown, the Godfather of Soul.
"Said he was from Barnwell," my brother said.
I knew where this was going.
"You used to work in Barnwell, right?"
Yeah. My Godfather of Soul story/
I interviewed him once, but that's business. Doesn't count in Six Degrees of Stephen Guilfoyle.
But I met him. We all knew, at the paper, that Brown was from Barnwell, and being just down the highway living in Beech Island, he sometimes dropped by. So we always thought it was a possibility.
Barnwell is not a nowhere town, and a stretch limo can make the rounds. But when a black stretch limo passed through town with a license tag that said GDFTHR or some such variation, we knew we could find him. I sent my reporters out to find James Brown.
They came back, none successful. So I went out myself.
I found the limo parked on a street behind our building, in front of a law firm. James Brown was meeting Miles Loadholt, a local attorney. They were of a generation, and I think their families knew each other growing up. James Brown called Miles "Mr. Miles."
They stood outside, I took a picture of them shaking hands, a friend of Miles had it framed for him a while later. It was a good picture.
That was the first time I met the Godfather of Soul.
I could hear the wheels churning in my brother's brain.
Hootie, Dizzy and Brown, oh my.
I'm the Forrest Gump of South Carolina's Music scene. I'm always there, in the backdrop.
Or at least that's the impression my brother has.
Mama says, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get."
Unless you buy a box of plain chocolates. Then, you pretty much know what you're going to get.