Editor’s note: This piece is part of a continuing series called Macon in the Mirror. The project is being produced through a partnership involving the Center for Collaborative Journalism, Georgia Public Broadcasting and The Telegraph. The goal is to examine the community and convey your stories, passions and concerns.
A few days of music and weirdness with former Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickey Betts made a lasting impression on Brad Evans.
Evans, who owns and publishes the 11th Hour, met Betts back in 2003 when a mutual friend introduced the two.
“(My friend) knew I would like to interview Dickey, so I kind of came over not knowing what to expect and I walked in this house and Dickey is sitting at a table and he’s got a Budweiser in front of him and he’s dressed in full camouflage,” Evans said. “He didn’t motion for me to sit down or not so we kind of stood around in awkward silence for a while and Dickey finally looked up and asked, ‘What are we gonna do?’”
They ended up at Polly’s Mirage, a former blues bar located off U.S. 80. Betts wanted to perform.
“Little did I know they did not know who Dickey Betts was so they asked him to come up on stage with them and they introduce him as Ricky Betts from the Allman Brothers Band,” Evans said.
Later, Betts told Evans he wanted to talk.
“So we went outside, we sat down on the hood of this 1970s Lincoln Continental,” Evans said. “I’ll never forget it had a Waffle House application on the dash and he told me all about growing up here in Macon and how he got involved in the Allman Brothers and then he sang a couple of songs to me a capella out in that parking lot,” Evans said. “It was unbelievable. He was so kind and gracious to talk to me.”
Evans ran into Betts again that weekend during the annual Georgia Allman Brothers Band Association festival.
“He kind of snuck in there and went on stage and played and he didn’t have a guitar pick so he cut the corner of my debit card and used it and again just tore the house down,” Evans said.
Betts played songs in a few more places and later in the evening Evans asked him about a Pabst Blue Ribbon commercial from the ‘60s and ‘70s in which Betts appears to shoot a PBR can out of the air with his bow and arrow.
“I watched as Dickey Betts shot a PBR can out of the air with his bow and arrow right there on College Street,” Evans said.
“It was strange. I don’t think a lot of people knew who he was. I mean Dickey looked like an old redneck from Twiggs County. I mean he was dressed in full camo, he’s got the handlebar mustache, you know. He looks like someone who’s lived hard and just kind of still here to tell about it ... and to have been so close to him during just that one weekend was just incredible,” he said.
Joel Patterson and Lia Sewell, Center for Collaborative Journalism