After Hours: Rockin’ like a wagon wheel

Watching the acrobatic maneuvers of the 339 Flight Test Squadron team was a chill-bump and lump-in-the-throat experience as the Independence Day celebration opened on the eve of July 4 at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins.

Darius Rucker was the headliner and the tickets were free, so the long lines of traffic were no surprise, but the proficiency of the Warner Robins Police Department and the volunteers who managed the crowd was astonishing for a first-time event of this size.

Handling the crowds like seasoned promoters, they must have rehearsed every eventuality prior to the concert. Social media lit up like July Fourth fireworks after the Jacob Davis Band opened with some homegrown country tunes. Pamela Fitzsimmons and Kristy Ross took advantage of a meet-and-greet with a new country music idol in the making.

Rucker, whose career was launched as lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish, has become a country music phenomenon with the Midas touch, his most popular songs repeatedly showing up on the music charts.

It is difficult to imagine a better choice for the Friday night event, for Rucker not only sang his best known songs like “This” and “Alright,” but roused the fans to join him in an a cappella rendition of the old Bob Dylan tune, “Wagon Wheel.”


No Independence Day would be complete without fireworks -- and there was no shortage of pyrotechnics in Middle Georgia. The finale for the Warner Robins evening was spine tingling and filled the sky with the red, white and blue -- what else? It is an Air Force Base, after all.

But, Lake Tobesofkee had a new reason to celebrate for Sparks Over the Park on July 4, with the recent opening of the water park. On Sandy Beach, the Loose Screws band served up beach music before sundown.

When the fireworks started at dark, there was competition from several other venues -- including Idle Hour Country Club and private neighborhood parties -- all of which kept dogs in their thunder vests until the wee hours of the morning, and their masters looking for earplugs so they could catch a little shuteye.

Local governments might want to rethink this new fireworks ordinance; it may have been the noisiest July Fourth weekend in recent memory. Just wait till New Year’s Eve!


The Rebuilding Macon organization sets a record this year with repairs to its 2,000th house since it opened in 1992. Debra Rollins, executive director of Rebuilding Macon, credits Cox Communications for solid support from the beginning.

Rollins also has a sales background that she has put to good use in her pitch to businesses and organizations to sponsor volunteer teams to help with the renovations and repairs, which are provided to disabled and elderly homeowners who are no longer capable of shouldering that responsibility themselves.

In addition to her roster of more than 2,000 local volunteers, Rollins markets her organization to schools throughout the country to send their teenagers and college students to Macon during the summer to help in this endeavor.

This summer alone she will have at least 1,400 students bunking for a week at a time at the organization’s headquarters on Lake Street -- or at any shelter offered to her at no cost.

Rollins has tapped an invaluable resource -- retirees with expertise in building, painting, carpentry and any other talent possibly needed on one of her projects.

Charles Brittain no longer practices as an architect, but with his background, he can determine solutions to problems the layman might not see. Brittain is adept in woodworking, which he has enjoyed for years. Rollins, the inveterate salesman, offered the Middle Georgia Woodturners, a rich pool of talent, a deal they could not refuse -- free use of the organization’s facility for their monthly evening meetings.

At the woodturners’ July 6 meeting, the club had featured guest Russell Eaton, from Stockbridge, demonstrate turning a bowl from some of the exotic woods he sells. There is a language specific to woodturning that is foreign to the novice; even some of the woods used in woodturning are not commonplace or familiar.

Eaton says his favorite wood to turn is “sloppy wet Ambrosia Maple,” which sounds more like something overheard at a Waffle House. In the months we have followed the woodturners’ exhibits, there are still some tools and terms beyond “lathe” that are mystifying.

Nicolaas Deal, who keeps members apprised of meetings and special events, was ecstatic Tuesday night over his recent acquisition of a gouge. Since it must be essential to woodturning, it will be added to my new lexicon.

Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or