Smalltown Alabama is going to get a treat when Wind comes together to play at Summer Off Main this Saturday.
Due to the work downtown everything has been moved to the Handley High School and West Point Street area. They will play from about 5 to 7 p.m. on the landing in front of the City Auditorium
The band's first full practice with all members of the original band and a couple who came in later was Saturday, May 12, at Tom Norton's house.
Norton's idea about getting back together and playing has been percolating about six or eight months, said Tim Cox of Ripville. He, John Hodges and Norton have been practicing about that length of time.
Joining them Saturday in playing their 1970s rock and roll were Jackie Garrett, who now lives in Athens, Ga., Mike Davis, who lives in Nashville, Tenn. and Richard Murray of Lake Martin. Another full-blown practice will be held the night before the concert.
"It's a blast. It's been so much fun. Reconnecting is always good," Norton said. After doing a particularly spirited song, he said with a grin that "it was pretty good for old folks."
Formed in high school, the rock and roll band's first performance was at the Miss Handleyan Beauty Pageant. They played all of the three to five songs they knew. Now they are coming full circle playing there again, Norton said.
John Hodges of Roanoke said the first time they played it was him, Jackie Garrett, Norton, Mike Davis and Morgan Butler.
Barry Chaffin heard them playing and said they should play at the Wadley prom, which became their second gig.
Booked at the BPOE or Elks Club in Opelika, Hodges said, they played "Purple Haze" and everybody looked kind of stunned. Someone asked if they knew the Tennessee Waltz. Garrett said, "follow me," and they did.
Wind played fraternities, clubs and other events, such as the National Guard Armory. The band members said they have played with some good bands but these fellow musicians are among the best.
Reconstructed Wind will start playing oldies like Ain't No Sunshine, Cripple Creek, Drift Away, Jesus is Just Alright, Smoke on the Water, China Grove, Desperado, Midnight Rider, Green River and I Shot the Sheriff.
Norton said Mike Davis is probably worth a separate story on his own. He has toured with Vince Gill, Steve Wariner and Dolly Parton's Mighty Fine Band.
Davis is quick to underplay what he's done, saying, "I've been really lucky. I've been with Dolly 23 years, since 1989. She's wonderful to work for. I work for her when she works. I have a business I run called Digital Audio Post."
DAP keeps him involved in all kinds of projects across the spectrum of sound for television, music and other projects such as an audio mixer and post-production supervisor for award-winning shows and series.
When he was hired as a pianist with Vince Gill he did not even know who Gill was, he said.
He was on Prime Time Country on the Nashville Network for three years from 1996 to 1999. It was a five-day-a-week job, taping at 5 p.m. like the late night shows do.
Digital Audio Post is his real job, he said.
He just finished working with Rascal Flatts on their new album "Changed." Much of his work now is not performing but helping others sound their best.
He plans to go to Florida to help do some work for Kenny Chesney. He will be working on the video playing during the concert.
He feels very lucky to still perform when he can.
"I'm not really famous. I just work for famous people," he said. However, he does have a Grammy he won in February for best Americano album. It is displayed in his music studio on Music Row. He got the award for mixing the album of the late Levon Helm, drummer for The Band, "Ramble at the Ryman."
He feels like Forrest Gump where he kind of stumbles into everything as it happens, he said.
Also, he did well because he moved to an industry town, Nashville. He still misses Alabama although he gets back as often as he can to get out in the country, he said.
"When Tom called I was excited. How I got started was Mr. (Ronald) Hyche was very supportive of us. I was in the high school band. He was the choir director at the Baptist Church and the high school band director. He created an environment that fostered bands," Davis said.
Hyche let the band practice in the school's bandroom.
The band kind of migrated together. Davis was playing bass with a jazz band at school while Norton was already involved with some of the older guys playing in bands. He was more experienced, Davis said.
As the band members exchanged memories, Hodges said when they packed up to leave after a concert they never could find Garrett. He would be working the crowd and getting them another job.
Cox said it was so much fun riding in the old station wagon Bill Davis had provided for them to use. Garrett said Harold Wilson let them keep an old U-Haul to use and they never lost the rental money. They always had work.
Cox said there was an Auburn booking agency that booked them all over the state, playing at places like the old Apple Tree in Auburn.
Hodges remembered playing at the VFW before they played at the prom. Garrett said there were only three people in there––two old drunk men and a woman. She danced with the men and only sat down when they weren't playing, but the two men got in a fight over her and were thrown out. The band members said "you threw our audience out."
Murray said they did a lot of jobs at the armory after football games. Manley Clack, who oversaw it for so many years, opened the back door once to let in air and it fell.
Davis said the parents always hired policemen for $15. Everybody in the county knew parents and police would be there and would let the kids stay out until midnight.
Most of the band members have continued to play on their own, with friends, at churches and for money. They all answered Norton's call and are looking forward to playing together Saturday.
Norton said Garrett left to play with Jeff and Mike Cook and later with Vassar Clements, considered one of the world's finest and most versatile fiddle players. Richard Murray joined up and stayed with Wind until it broke up.
"We'd rather be playing than eating," Norton said. Back in the day Robert Burns was their sound man, and he showed up again Saturday and will help with the sound at the performance. Jeff Mitchell has been hired to provide the sound for Summer Off Main.
Norton was surprised when Burns came to visit him in a Birmingham hospital where he was fighting off esophageal cancer more than a year ago. He spent about 34 days in the hospital.
He may have a greater desire for life since nine of 10 people with this kind of cancer die within six months of being diagnosed. He is doing great.
About this time last year Soul Tymes Nine was getting together to play in Roanoke, and Norton decided he would like to do it too. He didn't know if he would be able to sing again but he is fine, except for the high notes, he said.
Getting Wind back together was on his mind. It was something he felt like they didn't finish properly. He thinks Cox got married, then Cox and Murray were playing a couple of years with Pegasus from Ashland. Then John Hodges married Cindy.
Ironically, Garrett initially brought Cindy to a band practice and today she is Hodges' wife.
Garrett also worked with the old Grand Ole Opry folks and with folks on Hee Haw, although he was not on the show. He was on Austin City Limits. He toured for about 20 years. His son has been in a band called Rolling Home for about 10 years. Garrett works in transportation for the Clarke County School District. In September he will be there 20 years and says he loves the job and the people he works with.
His folks, Beatrice and Jarell, who are planning to move in with him soon, are glad he is doing the reunion, he said. His mother used to go with him on tours across the country.
"I'm so glad everybody's got back together," Garrett said, adding, "I miss Roanoke."
Murray said Tom called and said there was going to be a reunion and several other band members were going to come.
"This is one of those good bands and I stayed in touch," he said. He wanted to be part of it.
The veteran musician said, "Some of my bands opened for Razzy Bailey, Rodney McDowell, Black Oak Arkansas. We also played a show with Merle Killgore at the Montgomery Civic Center.
He has some original music that he is plans to put up on I-Tunes and other sites soon.
Davis said it is weird to see how many good bands came out of Roanoke, such as Soul Tymes Nine and Pax when that band broke up, Shades of Midnight and others.
Hodges plays the drums, Murray also plays drums and guitar, Cox plays bass guitar, Garrett plays keyboard; Norton plays guitar and Davis plays keyboards.
The original group was together from 1972 to 1975, with Cox coming on board after Garrett left about 1974 and Murray came in about 1975. They worked for a couple more years.
Murray plays with Route 66 and with Mad Wind. He played the Friday night before practice at the Relay for Life in Opelika. He also has his own telecommunications business.
Davis said one thing that was really interesting was when the group came back together they didn't really have to get to know each other.
The group is looking forward to seeing old fans, friends and family as well as everyone else attending.
Norton said they are not being paid and they will put out a container for gas money for those driving back to their hometowns.
This is Norton's dream--to come together and play together once more for the first time--and maybe last time--in about 34 years.