Road Stories - Highway 17 South, After Midnight

Road Stories by Mark Sallings

Highway 17 South, After Midnight
(c)1998 by Mark Sallings

In the fall of 1966 I had been playing tenor sax with three other guys a little older than me when the best guitar player and singer in the county; Charlie Gump Vondran, approached us to back him up in a house gig at a night club in Newport, AR. Charlie was over 21, Clayton Lee, Larry Cobb, and Dwight Taylor were between 16 & 18 years old, but I was only 14.

My Dad turned me over to Charlie with a stern warning to have me home 30 minutes after the gig was over. Newport was 24 miles from home and back then with a straight delta road and big 390 T-Bird motor-we got home quick!

It was on these late night rides home that I first heard Lightin' Hopkins, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Albert King on John R's show on AM 1510 WLAC out of Nashville, TN. When I got home I would continue to listen until the wee hours of the morning on my nine-volt transistor radio. I didn't realize until many years later the effect this blues show had on my direction. I have also heard since then that Bob Seger, John Hammond and several others more famous than me were listening to the same station at the same time! Spooky!

PS: That first club called Turner's Tavern in Newport, AR had a few years earlier been called Porky's Roof Top. Look up your Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis history!

Until next time--Mark Sallings!

Road Stories